I don’t know how many stressed and caffeine-pumped college students have lived within these walls, on the third story overlooking the development and the river, but for these four months, they’re mine.
Encased in brick, howling when the winds weave themselves through the cracks and gaps and under the door. In through the windowpanes. Seeping into the vents. There’s no shortage of fresh air in this old apartment building. Surprisingly, the door to the balcony remains on its hinges and the screens are still in the windows.
The matted tan carpet speaks of ages of feet pounding down little tufts of once-soft raggedy yarn. A sloppy paint job tries to freshen up old drywall. Bugs keep me company. Stinkbugs. House centipedes. House flies, only a couple of those.
When the wind is still, the laundry machines aren’t shrieking in their nest down the hall (as they are now – with my laundry), the neighbors aren’t laughing or screaming or vacuuming, and no planes are roaring by in the sky… it’s silent here.
So I turn on the bathroom fan and listen to it whir in the background.
Through the night. And the day. Sometimes I play music to fill the silence. But eventually music loses its touch.
These walls held me when no one else could. They were the place I came home to. The place I wanted to be.
It sneaks up on you when you’re not looking.
Maybe it’s the end of the semester. Maybe it’s not.
Music used to fill the empty space inside your head.
Books and stories and spellbinding words would keep you transfixed for hours.
Food was relished.
Time with friends, fulfilling.
None of that now. Nothing satisfies until this job is done.
Be satisfied with your life, they’ll tell you. Sometimes it is good advice.
But only the unsatisfied make change. Those without an itch won’t try to scratch.
You know things could be better. You know you can be the change. Today is your fight for that future.
Remember starting a class or even a whole college career deeply excited about your area of interest? Some kids know where they want to go in life and what makes them tick before they even step into a post-secondary classroom. They’re ready to wrestle knowledge into submission and give their all to their chosen subject. Then, invariably, structured education gets in their way.
I started college knowing what I wanted to do. “Video and writing,” I told my advisor, every semester. I finished college with an increased appreciation for how much I disliked all the things I never got into because—surprise surprise—I really wasn’t interested in them. Undergraduate college is designed to give students a “broad educational foundation,” which it does. But by the time they begin college, a good number of students are mature enough to specialize.
“Education is about readiness for life, or to put it differently, education is about knowing what you need to know to live how you want to live.” – Joshua Spell
Real education is revelation. It’s uplifting, enchanting, fulfilling. It’s not a list of assignments, not motivated by a desire to please, not a burden. Real education is driven by curiosity. In the long term, self-driven education is the only kind there is.
Something I found on Facebook.
I can’t believe this happened.
How rude and inconsiderate!
The jar is nearly empty.
Someone else must have done it.
There’s not enough for lunch
It’s too salty at the bottom.
I just want some peanut butter.
Blast. Forgot I live alone.
There’s a habit people fall into when they’ve crammed too many activities into their lives, and that’s to keep their eyes on what’s right ahead of them and forget things as soon as they pass. This is what happens with my schoolwork—I focus on the six projects or so I have going at once and desperately try to remember everything (lock the door, catch the bus, do the homework, bring the homework, communicate with team, be there on time, don’t let them down, have time to help, X6, etc. etc.). I feel like the pinch point in an hourglass, trying to get everything to flow smoothly in the present by looking ahead to the near future and not having even a moment to contemplate the past.
Life’s too short for this.
Human beings aren’t made to be productive. There’s nothing we can do that God hasn’t done for us already. We’re made to celebrate being alive, to observe and rejoice and contemplate. Trying to squeeze as much into a life before the end because you’re afraid of wasting it really is a waste. Look back and see if anything’s there to remember. Maybe you were productive. Super-productive, even. Where does that get you?
It gets you a pile of inanimate projects to call your own, no sweet memories, little human connection, and always too rushed to answer a last-minute call for help.
God didn’t make us to work for him, a Divine Boss who pays us an hourly wage. He gave us more than we can ever earn. It’s not just ok to sit back and wonder, we’re made to sit back and wonder. To enjoy the small moments. To stop running, slow down, and be still.
I once read that the terror of stage fright doesn’t go away with practice. You just get very comfortable with being terrified. Butterflies, sweaty palms, all of it. Practice makes you able to function despite fear.
Loneliness is like that.
Move away for the first time and live alone. Wake up alone. Go to sleep alone. Experience chronic loneliness like never before. And you do get used to it. Eventually you don’t notice it so much. You function despite it. Until, one day, you find your way home, and that’s when you realize how you’ve been aching all along.
Lonely becomes normal. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
They say travel changes you. Maybe it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it just puts the same old you in a different light.
Some people travel to chase their dreams. Some stay put and do the same. Some are just running, and they don’t realize it for a long, long time.
Dreams aren’t for chasing. They’re for living. They’re not big nebulous things like clouds, up in the sky and floating around with rainbows and sunshine. They’re daisies you pick one at a time, in manageable little steps, to make a bouquet.
Dream chasers have the right idea, but they’re always running. Dream catchers are doers who take the small steps, building castles one brick at a time. They get where they’re going.