I know, I know… this is the first time there's been any hint of a pulse on this blog in awhile. Life has been busy this year, but in a wonderful sort of way. I'm over half way through an internship that has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. I've taken on outside work to supplement said internship salary. We have an international, multi-cultural, and bi-lingual wedding that's less than two months away, and in the process I'm spending every ounce of free energy planning a honeymoon that's going to be one epic adventure alongside my ultimate partner in crime (but more on that later).
For me, this year has been one of growth and reflection. With my studies drawing to a close and the final days of my status as a single twenty-something looming, 2014 not only marks the end of an era, but also the start of so many new beginnings. As from next year the excuse of "I just need to get through my studies" no longer applies. It's time to really figure out what I want in life, in a career, in a marriage, in the world around me and go for it. You know? My biggest fear is to dream up all these someday dreams and never really live them; wake up one day on the verge of retirement and realize I never really made what I love a part of my everyday life.
Of course, all of these serious life ponderings seem to consistently lead me to my travels. To the times in foreign places and unknown cultures where I have truly felt a sense of complete and utter contentment. Those fleeting seconds where you feel you are exactly where you ought to be right in that moment. Those precious minutes when the past and future may as well be non-existent because you are so invested, so completely swept up, in the here and now. Those are the moments I live for. Those are the moments I should (that we all should) consciously foster in everyday life… whether it be at work, at home, or elsewhere.
And I think it's a prevailing attitude rather than a plan or a trip or a vacation or an all-inclusive resort. Because each and every time I've been fully alive in the present has been spontaneous and unexpected.
Like the time there was a one hundred year flood in Burma and our power went out for three days, and yet we giddily tromped through the streets of Inle Lake with water up to our knees soaking in the joy that the rain had brought the Burmese people.
Or the time I went scuba diving in Egypt and then accepted an unexpected invitation for a local barbecue complete with shishas, fresh fish, broken English, and lots of smiles.
Or the time I woke up before the sun on Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda and could only hear the faint sound of birds chirping and the soft rhythm of drums drumming somewhere off in the distance with the lake and surrounding islands sprawling out before me. I vividly remember taking a mental picture of the scene in front of me because I knew I may never have the opportunity to experience it again.
There was also the time in Turkey, when I dropped a clay candle holder I had purchased at a bazaar on the floor of a restaurant and it shattered into a million pieces. As the owner cleaned up I apologized for the mess and thought nothing more of it only to be presented with the bill thirty minutes later alongside a perfectly glued together clay candle holder. You could not even tell that it had ever been broken.
And there was also the time in Zimbabwe, when we were out past curfew (due to election tension) on the night of the Eurocup final and quite literally ran into a bull elephant walking down the middle of a residential road on our way back to our hostel.
These are the moments that make life beautiful. These are the moments I want to cultivate day in and day out. And I think this is best achieved by the adoption of a certain attitude rather than a lifestyle of constant thrill and excitement. It's an attitude of openness. It's an attitude of spontaneity. It's an attitude of appreciation. It's an attitude of humility. And it's an attitude of brevity. Time is limited. Make the most of each day, each hour, each minute. Leave this life knowing you've maximized your time here.