“Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives”

I came across a really nice video a while ago. It not only cheered me up at a time when I was feeling low, but it also got me thinking. The main idea was something along these lines:

Most people don’t regret what they’ve done. They regret what they didn’t do.

This past winter semester of college was possibly the most stressful I have experienced thus far. Now that it’s the middle of summer and my head has cleared a little bit, it’s beginning to hit me how fast everything is going by. I’ll be honest – last semester wasn’t the most enjoyable. I felt like a workhorse, constantly toiling, but without a clear end in sight. I was so caught up in struggling to stay on the boat that I lost sight of where the boat was going, and I forgot to enjoy the ride.

Watching this video made me realize that I still have my whole life ahead of me. I realized that I don’t want to waste it away “sweating the small stuff.” There are so many things to do, places to explore, goals to fulfill. And I don’t want to look back on my life fifty years from now and say, “If only I had…”

I think it’s easy to forget, especially at certain points in life, that whatever we’re going through is a small piece of a larger puzzle. This is precisely what I did last semester, and I don’t want to spend another one like it. But sometimes it seems to me that life is a paradox. People tell you to think of the “big picture” but they also tell you to “live in the moment.” So what does it mean? Well, from the perspective of a college student, it means keeping in mind that studying all night and cramming for tests is part of a larger goal, a greater purpose. That’s the big picture part.

But the big picture is made up of small memories that stand out in your mind. I like to imagine life as a string of pearls – a collection of shining moments. Like a beautiful spring day with a balmy breeze that makes you feel like you’re by the ocean if you close your eyes (how often do those come along?) or an evening spent laughing with your best friends. I guess if we barrel through life just wanting to get to the end of our big picture, we don’t realize how much we’re missing. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “I want to live deep, and suck out all the marrow of life.”

If you’re looking for some inspiration, take a moment to watch this video!

Glitter Glue Heart

If you haven’t already, you should check out the new page I added to the poetry section: pastiches. And scroll down until you find the poem called “Glitter Glue Heart.” I just wanted to talk a little bit about this poem because I wholeheartedly enjoyed writing it and it makes me really happy whenever I go back and read it. It was inspired by Taylor Mali’s “Silver-Lined Heart.” At the end of the poem, Mali urges the audience to “put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!”

So I did exactly that in my poem. And you know something? Once I did that, once I essentially made a list of things that make me happy, I felt so incredibly good. More than good. I felt… liberated, somehow. Relaxed. Peaceful. And alive. I felt like everything was going to be just fine, and I felt like life truly is a beautiful thing. And every time I read it, I feel the same way.

To focus only on what is good seems like a pretty deceiving way to live life. But I think it’s equally deceiving to live a life focused only on what is bad. And unfortunately, that’s what seems to happen to a lot of us. We’re caught up in our own stressful lives – stress from school, work, relationships – and then we get exposed to so much negativity in the media. I know there’s a lot that’s not right in the world. But I think it’s okay to realize that there’s a lot that is right, too. And just because someone else somewhere else might not be happy doesn’t mean we need to feel guilty for being happy.

One of my professors shared this with our class last semester: www.goodnewsnetwork.org

It’s basically a website dedicated to sharing good news. I wouldn’t use it as my primary source to know what’s going on in the world, but it’s a nice addition to whatever news you may already be following. It covers topics like science, business, sports, health, and world news. It has a lot of interesting and uplifting information – and it’s a nice reminder that there’s a lot of good things happening out there.

Now, I encourage you – what are you for? What makes you live? In Taylor Mali’s words, “Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you, put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!”

The Poetry in Money

I’m sitting in the business school at my university as I write. This past semester was my first semester being part of the business school, my first semester taking business classes. People kept asking me if I liked it. Do you like your classes? Do you like the B-school?

And I felt myself struggling to say yes. I really wanted to, but for some reason I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

Why?

I wasn’t sure before, but I think I know now. I think for a long time, I’ve typecast myself. I’ve told myself that I love creative writing, and therefore I am a certain type of person. And that type of person doesn’t belong in a business school. It sounds absurd, and honestly, it is. But it’s what I was doing subconsciously.

Last year I took an English class and didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. But my brain said, “You like English. So you should like the class.”

I’m realizing now how silly that was, and I’m also realizing that I don’t have to like every aspect of things I like, if that makes sense. I can like business without liking all the classes in the business school, and I can like English without liking all the English classes I take, and I can like reading without liking every book I read.

Most importantly, I’ve realized that choosing to major in business does not make me a certain type of person. It does not mean I have to follow a certain path. It does not mean I’m greedy or materialistic. And it doesn’t mean I can’t love to write poetry.

It means I’m learning things that are useful, things I want to know, things that will help me understand the world around me better. And yeah, hopefully I can get a job out of that. But hopefully I can also live a life that makes me happy and that makes me feel good about what I’m doing.

Robert Graves said, “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”

But I think there is poetry in money – if you want it to be there.

An Adventure in Morocco

I apologize for the immense delay in posting, but winter semester of college was pretty hectic, and not long afterwards, I embarked on an international journey.

For three weeks in May, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at a nursery school in Rabat, Morocco with three of my closest friends. It was an experience I’ll never forget – for more reasons than one. Of course walking into a room and having about forty little kids get super excited to see us every single day was extremely rewarding, but so was immersing ourselves in the culture and learning how to make Moroccan mint tea, planning weekend trips to other cities and having to find the train station and book hotels all on our own, and figuring out how to communicate with people without being able to speak Dareeja (Moroccan Arabic). Even battling a fierce cockroach to the death was rewarding in its own way (albeit terrifying).

Five days a week we spent at the nursery school in Rabat. We taught a little bit of English (ABCs, shapes, numbers) and games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” and musical chairs. We also created activities like coloring and connect-the-dots worksheets. For me, the highlight of the trip was definitely the kids. Each kid had his/her own unique personality, and they all loved the attention we were able to give them. We’d just be sitting there and suddenly kids would climb into our laps or want high fives or give us kisses.

Suhail was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic kids there!

Suhail was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic kids there!

Yusuf, one of the little kids at the nursery, would not let go of me!

Yusuf, one of the little kids at the nursery, would not let go of me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the weekends, we took the train to other cities in Morocco. We traveled to Fez, Marrakesh, and Casablanca. While the cities themselves were beautiful and exciting to visit, I honestly just loved the notion of grabbing our backpacks and hopping on a train to somewhere. I think that was when we felt most independent and truly adventurous. And some of our best (and funniest) memories were created on the train.

The other really nice thing about our trip was that we lived with host families during our stay in Rabat. Some aspects were challenging (my host mother did not speak any English), but this meant I had a chance to practice using the basic Arabic that I knew. Our host families also lived within the walls of the medina, or the old city, which is basically a maze of narrow streets crammed with shops and markets, called souks. At first the prospect of finding our way through this veritable labyrinth was quite daunting, but soon we knew exactly how to get back to our homes and felt comfortable exploring on our own. Living in the medina itself really added to our experience.

A street in the medina in Fez. The Rabat medina was very similar, but not as hectic.

A street in the medina in Fez. Every city has its own medina.

Living with host families also meant home-cooked meals. And my host mother was an amazing cook!

My host mother's fabulous couscous, the traditional Moroccan dish that is eaten on Fridays.

My host mother’s fabulous couscous, the traditional Moroccan dish that is eaten on Fridays.

After all of the adventures we had in Morocco, from hopping on the train to unfamiliar cities to learning how to communicate to managing forty little kids at the nursery school, the biggest takeaway for me is now being able to say this:

“I’ll figure it out.”

Morocco was a whirlwind of new experiences, all of which we had to navigate ourselves. For me – someone who likes having things planned and organized – this trip was the best thing that could have happened. I realized that not knowing where you’re going all the time and having to figure stuff out on the way isn’t so bad. In fact, it can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re with friends. The best part is that now I feel a lot more comfortable figuring things out for myself as well, whatever they may be.

So here’s to the wonderful unplanned adventures the future holds, and here’s to figuring them all out!

The Perfect Idea + The Best of 2014

So at this point there are about six hours until 2015, which just goes to show how good I am at procrastinating. I think the reason I stayed away from this blog for so long was that I just didn’t know what to write about. I wanted to write something interesting, something people would enjoy reading, but I didn’t know where to begin. I spent so long searching for the perfect idea that 2014 got tired of hanging around and just sped on by.

It’s the same way with writing novels. I’ve been sitting around for a year now, just waiting for the perfect idea to come to me. Just waiting for inspiration. But I finally realized that you can’t just sit and wait, because life will pass you by. The perfect idea isn’t something that comes; it’s something that’s made. And it can’t be made unless you start somewhere. So from now on, I’m not going to sit and wait anymore. My resolutions for the new year are to resurrect this blog and to write as often and as much as I can.

That being said, even though 2014 went fast, it was a great year, and I feel obligated to recount some of what made it so memorable for me:

1. Graduating high school/getting my IB diploma/starting college

2. My trip to Egypt, Yemen, and India/seeing family

3. Getting my driver’s license

4. Summer sleepovers/get-togethers with friends/volleyball/badminton/playing euchre all night

5. The coldest winter ever/the most snow days ever/skiing/bonding time on the ski lift

6. Performing at teahouse

7. Prom

8. Senior prank/senior skip day/senior skit

9. Playing “I Spy” with my friend Shriyash during band class/band in general

10. My last synchronized swimming season

So here’s to 2014 –  and here’s to 2015 being even better.