Adventures in Yonderland

A log of my adventures, both real and imagined.

Archive for the tag “life”

I’m Back

So for some reason I’ve decided there’s enough going on in my life to start blogging again. Here’s what’s up.

1) I graduated.

2) I’m getting married.

3) I’m working a job.

4) I’m moving to Tennessee.

5) I’m looking for a job in Tennessee.

6) I’m going to a funeral.

7) I’m moving in with my person.

I’ll bet you anything there’s more. But consider it all a preview for what’s to come.

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What I Learned from College

I didn’t grow up like most people in high school. Not to say I didn’t grow up, I just never had my rebellion. I never dared to come into myself. First and foremost college allowed me to explore that. I have some fantastic memories from college; I met the woman I want to and will spend the rest of my life with week one, I partied in questionably outfitted homes and across the Atlantic. But I will remember the people I met and spent time with and did a bunch of stupid s**t more than all the rest of it. This is a bit of what I learned.

1) You are allowed to watch movies alone.

I spent a lot of time doing this, and a lot of time doing this Freshman year when everyone left to go out. I will admit it wasn’t particularly exciting, but I will say this: I did what I needed to do.

2) You should go out with the group.

I always thought it was really stupid, and many of the stories I have heard confirm that in some way. But what I have learned is that hearing the stories isn’t the same as living them. Isn’t the same of living amongst your peers. And you don’t have to do it their way either. Go, dance, watch drunk people (even just that is often worth it) and just live it. Don’t be too afraid to live (and please take reasonable precautions so you don’t get arrested, poisoned or otherwise put in harm’s way).

3) Choose Your Friends

Some people are assholes. And some people you just don’t click with. And that’s okay. The best part about life is that you are important and wonderful and you can choose to surround yourself with people you actually want to be around. And who actually care about you.

4) Fights Are Actually Healthy and Normal

Not fistfights. Please don’t get in a fistfight if you can avoid it. I mean arguments. You are your own person. Which means you are different from everyone else, including your most best friend in the whole world. And, sorry to break the news, you’re going to disagree. And that’s okay. The important part is to understand this and work through it. Real friends won’t leave you behind.

5) Your Perspective Isn’t the End-All-Be-All

I’m not saying you aren’t right. But the fact is, life is a lot more complicated than “this is this and that is that.” Even a statue looks differently from behind and who are you to tell the guy across from you his view is wrong? I’ll never be able to explain to everyone what this means, but the point is that everyone’s experience is legitimate and real. And you should treat it as such.

6) Sometimes Really, Really Shitty Things Happen

I don’t know what to say about this one. It’s just true.

7) Mental Illness is an Illness

And most people get something at some point (most commonly anxiety of depression). And that’s okay. Don’t treat people suffering as if they’re some kind of foreign creature. It’s just an illness. (I’ll point out that no one says “those (kind of) people” about persons suffering from colds, the flu or even chicken pox).

8) Degrees Get You in the Door

And that’s about it. I’m an English major. No one ever asks me about it. They ask for stories about who I am and how I deal with life and what experience I have that might be useful. If you’re in school you should remember that when you stay up until 4 a.m. studying for an exam instead of applying to jobs or something (sleeping? not gonna judge though, sleep is fickle).

9) You’ll Know When You Actually Break

And it’s a hell of a lot farther along than you might think.

10) Be Yourself and Let Others Be Them

Respect other people. And have the confidence to listen to yourself. Because I can just about guarantee you’re more right than anyone else.

11) Don’t Go into Debt

School loans, houses and cars are a whole separate thing. Don’t get into debt for everyday things. And if you do, pay it off. I feel like everyone’s heard it a million times before, but it is really just true. Finances are the easiest way to make a relationship tense, to stress you out and make you feel totally trapped. Be realistic about your abilities and understand.

12) Live Simple

You can have cool stuff. But I lived in a closet for a year in France, shared a mini-fridge with two other roommates and had a window opening the size of my fist (not exaggerating). And one of those roommates told me that he had gotten all his stuff down to the size of a single carload and how freeing it was. I’m gonna need a kitchen table, so that’s not gonna work for me, but it’s still good advice. It’s easier to be happy when all you need is a cup of tea, a bath, flowers, a book, whatever.

Life is complicated. And it sucks a lot sometimes. Actually sometimes it’s really awful. But what I learned from college is that actually, I think I can do this. No guarantee it won’t be rough. But in the end. Yeah. I think it’ll work. If nothing else I could be an English teacher.

I don’t know why this song, it just seems to echo how I feel.

Update on Life

Haven’t posted in a while, but I assure you the adventures continue.

Transitions back have been far more difficult than I ever imagined. I’ve been fed up, pissed off with and unmotivated by the most random assortment of things.

Espresso is my coffee now. Everything else is water. (Not really, but I also can’t live without espresso anymore).

My idea of bringing alcohol to a party is wine. Why? France. That’s why. It’s also delicious. Blackberry Wine is the most amazing thing on the planet. Followed by whiskey. Followed by coconut rum (why didn’t anyone tell me about this stuff earlier, oh my god).

And I’ve been dating. For six months now (here’s the page I made, hope you love corgis as much as I do). And very soon, I will be engaged, preparing to graduate, finding a job, and setting out on a brand new adventure.

That is way more terrifying than anything else yet.

And that sounds great to me.

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Park Revelations

I was sitting in a park here called the “Parc Jourdan,” smoking a pipe and just thinking. Mostly about my life and my life in regards to women. In fact, pipe smoking is most common for me when women are on my mind. Today I realized why.

It’s relaxing. I think most people who smoke have realized this already. But I’m not sure they all realize what’s actually going on to make it so relaxing. I think there have even been studies suggesting that pipe tobacco smokers (note this is specifically talking about pipe tobacco smokers) may actually live longer or healthier than other people. That’s contentious of course, but I think there may be something to it.

You see, since you don’t actually inhale the smoke from a pipe, you have to control your breathing. More than that, pipes require a fair amount of concentration. If you pull too quickly and too often from the pipe, you’ll receive a chemical burn on your tongue. Not often enough and the ember will burn out because it isn’t receiving enough oxygen to upkeep itself (fire requires just the right combination of heat conservation and air). The result of all this is that your brain is occupied with slowing down: breathing, thoughts, body. And you end up meditating essentially. The small amount of nicotine absorbed by your skin I’m sure help with this, but really smoking a pipe almost forces you into a meditative-like state.

It’s interesting. And, as a result, I think I’ve got myself sorted out a little bit better. It can be too easy to become caught up in the now of my reactions to events and forget who I really am. My history. The whole of me and not just 20 year old Nathan who’s studying abroad in France.

You get better answers when you ask Yourself.

Disclaimer: I in no way mean to advocate the use of tobacco, nor imply that it is an activity that I take part of often. Any legal drug should be used in moderation and an understanding of its effects.

Sometimes…

I consider all the things I can’t possibly change…

…and I start getting creative.

Experiences

To say that my summer has been hot, hard, trying and long would all be an understatement. Haha, it is amazing, truly amazing that ANYONE ever comes back to be a summer camp counselor again. I mean, this past summer I was pushed so hard that I literally hit the point of exhaustion and had to do nothing but sleep for a full day. It was a frightening time, especially because that has never happened to me before. Doing that is just so draining physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don’t know if anyone realizes just how difficult it is to tell twenty other people what to do. Or to deal with arguments as silly as “everyone hates me because they said this one thing I did was annoying.” It would be insane for anyone to come back after an entire summer of that.

But I did.

You see, yeah. It sucks. A lot of the time. It just does. BUT, there are few other jobs in the world that allow a nineteen or twenty year old to do as much good as I have these past two summers. Literally, church camp can change lives. I know it has changed mine. In fact, almost my entire worldview and faith are based around two things: camp and mission trips. I know for a fact that I impacted children in ways I will never know. In profoundly positive ways, I hope. ‘Cause that’s what camp does. Or at least mine. I have never been anywhere else where the love of God was more evident.

And camp has continued to be a place where I grow. I have gone from being a great counselor to being a leader. I have learned how to instruct children and not just punish them. I have learned how to have patience as large as an ocean and love as deep as the sea. I have learned that EVERY child, and perhaps more wonderfully, every PERSON, contains within them the most glorious and wonderful light. And I have watched how parenting nurtures or stunts the growth of that light. I have watched what happens when kids in poverty are left to their own guidance for their upbringing.

And most powerfully, I let the geeky child shine for a week. I let those at the bottom of the social ladder, experience what it is like to be a leader. And I heard the words “I’ll miss you” from children I wish I could take home and raise myself. Because I know what it is they are capable of and I watch that be taken away by poor parenting.

Is it worth it? Hell yes. There are few experiences that are worth it that do not push the envelope. What I have learned and what I have done at camp is invaluable. Despite the difficulty. Despite the tears and almost tears. To do good. That is incredible.

All I Really Need…

…is a song in my heart, food in my belly and love in my family.

I learned this lesson last year. It’s simple, but all the truth is there. All you need is: water, shelter and food (assuming all of that fits your body’s basic needs); love, even if it isn’t someone you’re related to by blood; and a “song” in your heart. You need something to step to, something to beat to, something to motivate you. And the freedom to move to that song. All the extra stuff: money, mansions, cars, games, toys, whatever. It’s all extra. All you really need is a song, love and basic bodily needs met. That’s it. Those three things and you can change the world. Those three things and you have the freedom to be yourself. Those three things and you have what it takes to whether anything.

The challenge is to help everyone else to have and hold them.

Haha, sorry that got really sentimental. But it’s one of those days.

The Simple Cool Stuff

I’m going to start off this post by explaining that my nalgene bottle strap broke yesterday. SO, today when we went hiking, I looked for a dead yellow poplar tree branch. I found one, stripped the bark and made a rope. I then attached the two ends of the nalgene cap together with it and put a caribeener on it to strap it to myself. It looks like this:

Really simple thing. Everyone LOVED it. Like, they were really impressed. I mean, I was pretty happy too, but it’s such a simple thing. All I did was twist some fiber together really.

I also learned another thing today. I’ve been trying to understand myself, like who I am and not who I think I am…if that makes any sense. But I got a good start on that today. We did a behavior test. It’s basically a personality test that focuses on your behavior and how you react and act around other people. Anyway, I learned a lot. Which is good, because I’ve begun to get lost in a tangle of selfness.

ANYHOW, it goes along with one of the passages we’re studying for this year’s bible curriculum. “Seek and you shall find.” In my Bible, my favorite line is “everyone who seeks, finds.” In my experience this has been true. Okay, maybe not finding your car keys or getting an “A” on an exam, but bigger general things. If you want a wife/husband, you’ll end up there. If you want to travel, you will. If you want to make a change, it’ll happen. They key is to keep knocking and keep trying. I’ll leave you all with this picture for today. Just a calm one.

How Do I Play the Game?

So I’m at training for the camp I’m working at this summer. It’s fantastic. Two days in and I already feel at home and on my way to a new and better direction. Anyway, we played this game called Cat and Mouse as part of the initiatives part of training (initiatives are kind of like team-building exercises).

Cat and Mouse is played like this: Everyone has a dot in a circle that they stand on. There is one person in the middle. The “mice” standing on the circles cannot talk. The “cat,” who is the person standing in the middle, can. The only way the cat can become a mouse is to steal another mouse’s dot when they vacate it. That’s pretty much it.

When you play, you look for other people to switch with you. You make eye contact, nod your head, or sometimes you just run at them. Some people will run every time you come to them, even if their chance of getting another dot is hopeless. Some won’t run even when you’ve established that it’s going to happen. Sometimes someone thinks they’ve established that they’re both running and one person hasn’t gotten the memo.

But there are a few things that stand out to me in this game. In a strange way it simulates life. First of all, there is no rule that says you HAVE to move. In fact, the mice could stay safe on their own pads for forever. But that’s no fun for ANYONE.

Second, sometimes you take risks and you fail. And sometimes when you fail, you have just as much fun trying to get out of your failure as you did getting into it. Being the cat for a while was actually a little fun.

Third. The game is fun. Even with no debrief, no deeper thought, it’s a really fun and simple game. But taking it to that next level. Doing something that lasts more than just a few minutes, a few hours, a moment. That’s what the real goal is.

And it makes me think: How much of these three things do I do?

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