Impossible Huge Dreams

9 Nov

(Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean: )

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It’s great when people are different and dare to live outside of their society’s norms. When people do awesome world-and-life-changing things. Although sometimes, I question… does it really make a difference? How often do you actually hear about people who have done some good deed having made a notable impact? I question these acts of hope because I become exhausted by the overwhelming negatives of the world.

Of course it makes a difference. Every tiny act, pushing hope forward makes a difference. These acts are what drive the overwhelming positives in the world!

The most complicated thing I’ve been contemplating just now is how the world is frustatingly and awesomely not only good and bad, black and white, but all different shades of grey. To do what I really believe, one of my passions, is how I want to spend a large part of my life. I feel like I must undergo a lot of criticism and hardships to achieve much in the field, but I feel that it is simply what I must do. That is reducing unrecycled waste, reducing mining and oil drilling and fuel consumption where possible. Conserving environments, trying to stop as much polluting of the Earth as I can, to save ecosystems and other species from our own greed and ignorance.

(Scotland: )

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(Mexico: )

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I suppose in the bigger picture it won’t be terribly different from travelling in terms of seeing the tiny details people are willing to have an opinion on or be offended over. From where I stand in my entirely unqualified view, I see the broad fields of earth science and social science as ever-changing fields, always with new information and theories and history changing discoveries happening. These are the fields I’d like to get involved in, and I suppose in any sort of work there can be self-important people alongside those who are pleasant or inspire.

(Sorry for the phone quality! Natural History Museum, London: )

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It’s an exciting time to live in. Unfortunately I feel like to make any significant difference I would have to involve myself in politics, in policies and petty business and everyone speaking as though their opinion is more important than the next person’s, or at least that’s how I currently see it.

Sometimes it drains me of hope, for the huge dreams I have seem tiny and impossible in the face of the world’s large corporate and political powers. And perhaps they are. But a combining of many huge dreams from many regular people can be larger than any amount of money or influence, if only they can flourish in the right way.

Huge dreams will forever live, even if as hopes. After all, hope is the force that makes life livable.

(Italy: )

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Courage and Moments Between

1 Oct

(Written in late July, unpublished ’til now)

I begin with an apology.

Sometimes I stop letting people in, and I don’t usually realise it until I’m out of the slump that rendered me uncaring. I feel so terribly awful when I become concious of how I may have been recently acting, being a cloud on people’s days instead of a ray of sunshine.  Sometimes I end up in the dark part of the tunnel before the pinprick of light appears and grows; I become selfish and lost in thoughts of the dark memories and moments which I’m trapped in. Eventually, the light always appears and fills me again, but in my dark moments, I barely have enough energy to care competently for myself let alone other people. I am sorry for whenever my company has become unpleasant for this very reason. I swear I’m putting in all the effort I can to be good company and I feel worthless when my company is a chore. Please know it’s not personal and although it mightn’t be apparent, I am having a vicious internal battle to regain positivity. My meek answer to your question was all of the energy I could muster to try and sound like I enjoyed that meal when really it was the last thing on my mind in that moment.
I’m sorry for these moments but please know that I am fighting them off as best I can.

On a more upbeat and irrelevant note, here is evidence of what happens when I try to take a selfie underwater:

(In Favignana, Italy)

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What about courage? For me thus far it has existed most of all in moments of mentally gritting my teeth and taking the plunge.

Taking the risk of diving behind the projection of Mexico’s stereotype into the real Mexico took courage – the flight from LA to Mexico City was the most fear I have ever felt in my life, out of fear that the stereotypes projected to much of the world might be correct. (Thankfully my fears were proved quite wrong.)

The thing that has taken more courage than anything else but that gets easier each time one does it is owning up to your own wrongs. Shamefully I don’t always do this which has resulted in some strained relationships at times. The courage it takes to admit your own flaws out loud to another person, not in self depreciation but in apology, has actually been the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Admitting when you royally mess up, or just when you’re ashamed of being moody or out of sorts is to put your own dignity and sense of self-worth at someone else’s disposal. Saying anything that puts yourself on the line really, espcially when it is something important to you… That is truely scary but important to do.

Caring about people takes courage, especially when travelling. To listen to people and actually care about them, their opinions and philosophies and experiences, is an act of courage. Its hard to let people in when you know they’ll be torn out of your life for sure and so soon.

It’s all worth it though, of course. To care and be hurt when leaving is better even if it means the pain, than to not interact at all. If you have an opportunity to genuinely experience something, there’s no point in not taking it, because then you miss it and the moment’s gone… it’s better to savour and experience.

Being alive is dangerous, living is even more dangerous.

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Light Upon Darker Paths

10 Jul

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Today, if all goes to plan (and I hope feverently that it does) I’m going to Venice. To Italy for the first time. I’m excited and feel better than I have in weeks, to be honest. Dancing to the over-played Vampire Weekend on my phone around my couchsurfing hosts awesome apartment, I feel care-free. I feel strong and at peace. I feel like whatever comes my way I can deal with, as opposed to my usual assumption that I will be able to. The times that have been (politely said) not so great seem to have been ultimately compensated by this moment.

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Everything happens for a reason.

I know that not everybody believes it, and don’t ask me to justify this for every situation because it is only my personal belief that I don’t ask anyone else to partake in. It is my comforter. It makes no sense when I’m struggling and desperately asking “why?” but when the storm has passed, I feel like I know why. It differs every time, but ultimately the times that are truly challenging and painful are the times I learn the most and grow the most as a person from. Usually I need the wisdom earned from mistakes made previously to deal with the moats that present themselves along my path.

Death was a curious thing to deal with. Having never had a person close to me pass away, I didn’t really know how to take it. First of all, being on the opposite end of the world when my amazing grandmother passed on made it so surreal. I didn’t feel like crying at first. I think I was just in shock, despite my awareness of her recent deterioration.

So I watched the film PS I Love You. Why? I knew this would help me cry and vent a lot of emotions that I had pushed to the side over the previous 3 and a half months. I was fine with Jerry’s death – I had seen this before and was prepared. What I had forgotten was that scene in which Holly’s world I crumbling around her and she runs to her mother and breaks down. I had forgotten about this part, and I simply couldn’t deal with it, I was a mess – this scene vividly reminded me of how much I missed my mum, not to mention the rest of my family. Realising just how much I have underappreciated having the luxury of running to my mum was painful, and there was so much that I wished I could run to her for in that moment. However, being about 17000km away was of no comfort. This library of emotion was only partly sorted. And only still is really, but I’m not rushing myself.

I’m just trying to feel the sunshine, instead of only knowing the sun is shining. I’m taking everything step by step and am not hesitating to live fully merely because of some harder things happening.

Cry when you need to cry, but remember to put your shoulders back, chin up and smile once the storm passes… don’t miss the sun because you’re reminiscing about the storm!

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In Santiago de Compostela, Spain

16 Jun

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It’s About Attitude.

16 Jun

I’m sitting in an airport in Berlin right now. Reflecting. In a few hours, I’ll be seeing a (fantastically amazing) Finnish friend of mine, and I’m super excited for it… but I can’t help but be swept away in this flood of thoughts and feelings of the happenings since I last wrote two months or so ago.

In comparison to the last time I wrote, I feel more confident and I dont know how to explain this…less shakeable? As though I have grown and steadied. And I have (in more than one way – I blame the baguettes).

In all seriousness, I think the reason haven’t been writing or keeping in much contact is because I feel so detached.  My life in New Zealand now feels like some kind of distant memory that just features in my dreams most nights. It’s an odd feeling, and even more so because I know it will swap places with the life I’m now leading once I’ve been home for some time. I’ll start dreaming of travel again and it will seem like a distant memory.

I have fallen in love with this style of travel. In the way that when you have a crush on someone and you think of them and get butterflies, I feel for travel. Honestly, it has its moments in which the love-hate meter ticks over towards hate for a day or two, but something I’ve come to accept and that can be summed up in a great phrase is:

Shit happens.

Here’s a couple of examples:
A few days ago I was couchsurfing in Münster. The guy I was surfing with gave me his student card for the day so that I could use the bus for free. This isn’t strictly speaking legal… And here is where the danger of assumption and Murpheys Law combine. We figured that, as in his half a year living in Münster he’d never even seen the people who check your tickets, today would be no different. Of course, it wasn’t that way. I played the innocent tourist to the stern official and simply explained that I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to use the pass, but accepted my fate and happily accompanied the ticket officer and paid the €40 (ouch!) for this. I just accepted I’d taken the risk and been caught out. Thankfully, we had to go to the central station to pay the fine so I ended up where I needed to be anyway. I was in a really great mood, so I was making friends with the ticket officer and his co-workers and being polite and bubbly, because I might as well make the best of a bad situation. Nothing terrible happened, money is just money. In fact it worked out even better for meeting up with my friend in central Münster, as crossing the street outside the ticket office we ran into each other. I felt guilty for getting my hosts ticket taken, but he felt guilty because I had to pay a fine. As mum would say, life swings in round-abouts. And it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day, I got an opportunity to brings some smiles into the day of the ticket officers who probably mostly deal with less than friendly people. I was also not too bothered because Münster had shown me kindness the day prior when I took the right bus but in the total wrong direction, and realised this two stops before the end of the line. I got off somewhere in the outskirts of Münster and walked across the road to the bus stop for the correct direction thinking I was safe… no way! I had used the last of my cash for that previous single use bus ticket. Then I realised I was in luck, there was a ticket machine that accepted cards! Urgh, some bastard had shoved one and two cent coins in the card reciever which I tried to flick out with a hair pin, but they were firmly stuck. I walked a few bus stops back the way I came, not really having a plan. I ended up making a conversation in broken english/german with a mum and her kid who were waiting at a bus stop along my way. Luckily for me, it turned out that not only were they waiting for the same bus I needed to take but that she was a really kind lady and insisted she pay for my way.

So yes, life does swing in round-abouts. And shit does happen. Above all, with what attitude you act and react changes the whole situation in big or small issues.

Moments matter

16 Apr

Travel has made me come to terms with the probability of never again seeing so many people. I’ve come to care less about what I might leave people thinking and more about how I leave people feeling. It seems more ultimately important and less trivial than a thought. A feeling can be made of many things and are much harder to control than thoughts. There’s a belief in Indonesian culture that everyone is either an angel or a demon. You can tell which they are by how they leave you feeling. Whether it’s the really genuinely nice guy who works at the nearest supermarket or that girl who doesn’t speak the same language as you and snores loudly on the bunk bed below, the impressions we leave on the people around us every moment of our lives matter. A stranger only knows who you are in that moment, and maybe that will be the only chance time your paths cross. So I think leaving a positive recollection with the person you’ve met once and probably won’t meet again is still important.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – Dalai Lama

Body language is in every language and smiling has never given more negative things than positive. Our lives are compiled of moments and though each one at the time often feels so insignificant, a passing fly in the garden of our lives, it matters. These moments make up our days which make up our years and therefore our lives. I can only conclude that I’ve come to be more concious about the way I am. I haven’t changed myself, I just make more of an effort to be as polite and kind as I can to everyone that I meet (which can be harder than anyone would like sometimes) but to stand for a certain moral code – one that if I’m honest, I’m still figuring out. Traveling has helped, and I can feel it moulding me day by day, moment by moment.

Adios or hasta luego?

29 Mar

Spending two solid weeks with the same people isn’t always a good thing, especially when females out-numbered the males by far, but luckily for me it turned out better than I could have ever imagined. It seemed so much longer than two weeks because of how much of that time was spent actively doing things and being with and connecting with people. But it also feels to have finished all of a sudden.

 

We shared so many amazing conversations, moments of wonder and fun. We’d always be rooming with different people so everyone got the chance to know everyone else outside of a group situation. With Wandering Earl leading us, a funny, friendly travel blogger, we made our way from Playa Del Carmen to Oaxaca, seeing and doing (and don’t even get me started on eating, YUMMY) many things along the way. The best part was not necessarily what we were seeing, however, but the people we were with – at least in my opinion. We could have been anywhere and seeing anything and it would have been just as fun. Image

Saying “goodbye”, or as it goes in spanish, “adios”, wasn’t easy. It never is, really. Not saying goodbye to home, to family, to friends new or old. I needed a different way of coping with parting ways. Instead I tried “hasta luego”.

 

To be able to cope with the marks people leave on me, and the loss of a part of me that every person I open myself to takes with them, I have to be philosophical. I do believe that every person has a place in your life to teach you something, and sometimes leaving is a part of that teaching. When this explanation isn’t good enough and I really miss someone, and it feels like a part of me is missing, I simply have to know that I said “hasta luego” instead of “adios”, and meant it. And know that I can fulfill that statement any time if I am so determined. “Hasta luego” translates from spanish to english as “see you later”. 

 

Sometimes, it’s harder to say that, if you know the chances of really seeing them again in this crazy world are so small. But if it is meant to be it will be, because coincidences do happen and people do unexpectedly meet again in the most unpredictable of places, as I’ve experienced hands on and heard many stories of the same. I hope with all of my heart to meet these good-sorts again, and perhaps I’ll have even better stories to tell. Stories of beginning travel at 18, still a kid in so many people’s eyes, and thriving across huge ranges of culture. We’ll see.

 

Is adios too hard? Try hasta luego.