I Could Spend My Whole Life Good Will Hunting

Dinner Party at a Mandarin's House - Thomas Allom
Dinner Party at a Mandarin’s House – Thomas Allom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jay-Z feat. Kanye West and Rihanna.

There comes a time when you have to give up on the fantasies of youth. I used to think that be married by now, a politician’s wife, or maybe a doctor’s, presiding over the dinner table at some important event. It was a silly dream and I gave it up a long time ago. But it seems as you get older you continue to have to discard old dreams, so new ones can take their place. I used to want help people on a one on one basis, being down in the trenches. After a few years though I was being worn out at a rate that was more than I could possibly continue to help at. I remember crying in my driveway one day, just exhausted and knowing something needed to change. Giving up that dream to move on to something more sustainable, was incredibly difficult and anxiety-provoking. I  had to choose between two dreams when I decided to move to NYC – the one with a cute craftsman house and walking a dog and riding a bike tow ork versus the eating at every culture’s restaurants each night, having ultimate convenience and being on whenever I wanted. I really wanted that dog – have since I was 8, but I guess it will wait a bit longer.

Now Im going to the Middle East. Initially Im giving up showers, Western comfort and variety, and being with the friends Ive made over the last two years. In exchange, I get…: anxiety, homework and the need to pack, ugh. And massive uncertainty. I am completely reliant on other people – I barely speak the language, I dont have housing, and I dont have income until May. This lack of control and predictability is a situation I try to avoid at all costs and now Im throwing myself headlong into it.

I think thats the cost of Good Will Hunting, as Im interpreting it. Everytime you get near the summit of a dream, it changes so that you can get closer to a real summit. Being able to play my perfect note. So I let God keep informing my decisions. Moving all over the country, earning extra degrees, and aiming higher than Iv Im persevering in the face of all of this, because I have certainty in the form of inspiration. Everytime I think about the fact Im getting off a plane with no place to go, I dont panic nearly as much as I should. That peace apparently doesnt extend to the mess that is my room, but I have a week. Soooo, heres to hoping.

It would be easier to keep searching for our original dreams, even though it probably wouldnt led to the happiness we are searching for. Im stretching every time I make the choices I do. And when I talk to friends I havent seen in a few years, they have no idea how to make sense of where my life is right then. There’s some inherent fun in being the wild child – if wild is going to school forever and then getting a job to pay one’s bills – but every once in a while acknowledging how difficult and painful it can be to walk along my own path makes me feel a bit less scared. At least this time, Ive got a few friends to ease the way. And traveling is going to be a hell of a lot more fun than waking up early for class. So bring it on anxiety – Ill be on a plane shortly.

So I Stand, Still Boring and Bored

Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum (Photo credit: sharnik)

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I have a hard time being bored, which accounts for many of my more eccentric decisions over the years. My most recent has been to take off for the next six months to the Middle East and parts unknown before I start working full-time. The one trip for sure is to Turkey for a few weeks and then figure out where else to go. Its the first time in 11 years I will be leaving the country and Im both overwhelmed and really excited to see what the world will look like outside of my current vantage point.

I truly believe that the larger world needs to be experienced, to be seen, in order to have a life worth living. There are so many wondrous things that you cant understand until you are standing in front of a pyramid, or the wall, or the people. You will miss the hum of other cultures, the sharp smells and the bright amazing colors. Americans really are drab in comparison. And thats just what man has put on, there are so many other things that are just the world’s offerings. Canyons and rivers and deserts and Dead seas.

Both times traveling now I will be going to cultures that are extremely foreign to the Western way of life. In the Middle East, being a woman is going to be an entirely different experience. Men will be overly formal and have difficulty discussing topics in the same way as when just men are present. Ive already had the experience of being out with my best friend in a Middle Eastern store, reaching out to scratch his back and he pulled away and put a scowl on his face. He didnt even realize he’d done it – but apparently thats what men do in the Middle East when some forward girl touches them – pull away and make it seem like they did not like it. We will not be allowed to hang out just the two of us very often, because men and women do not really interact. Women, of course, get more access to other women in the Middle East. He has never really gone into the private portion of his friends’ homes or met their wives: men stay in the front, public sections of the home when visiting. Then theres the whole everything is transacted in cash, which I suppose will prepare me for living in NYC where you have minimum purchase amounts, if there even is a card machine available. And living in a primarily Muslim country, when Ive had very little association with the religion in the States. So I have to pick a few more countries to visit and figure out how to function in the oldest of the old worlds. No more being bored – its adventure time.