“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau

You know, Thoreau really had something there. His whole “isolate yourself from the world for two years to read and reflect and live and be” is a great idea. I wish I could do that. Instead, I have to go to school and do my homework and sleep and tutor and all that good stuff. But last weekend, I went on retreat. It was an incredible experience. Not only did I grow closer to myself, others, God and nature, I became a member of a community. And I think that’s what has been missing these past couple weeks-feeling like I’m part of a community, something bigger than myself working for a common goal. I made friends rather quickly (for me, at least) and I felt like I belonged at school almost as soon as I arrived, but there was still some small part missing. And I found that part on retreat. I found the community, and I found that small part of myself that was missing: the part of me that belonged. I belonged to my family, I belonged to my family, but I didn’t yet belong to my college. Until last weekend, that is. I finally found a group of people with a common goal: grow closer to self, others, God and nature. Spread the love. Grow in faith. And it’s only been a week since I came back, but I already feel the difference. I know more people around campus and I have another meeting to add to my calendar. And that feels nice.

I was listening to music this evening while I was typing my French essay, which is something I rarely do. I usually get distracted by the words and feel the need to sing along. But as I typed, I came along a song I really love that I hadn’t heard in a while. It’s by Yael Naïm, a French-Israeli singer I discovered randomly the second time I watched MTV. (The first time I watched MTV, I discovered Corinne Bailey Rae and “Put Your Records On. Maybe I should watch MTV more often. J ) The video is lovely, and quirky and happy. “New Soul” reminds of exactly how I feel right now. Enjoy.

Don’t you feel much happier now? I know I do. Jude was laughing at me because I was typing, and bouncing and singing on my bed. So I pulled out my earphones and made her listen too. Everyone should hear this song. I think I’ll carry around a boom box with it playing continuously for a day, and spread the happiness.

Yeah, right. I feel comfortable here, but not that comfortable.

Anonymous, the most widely quoted person in the history of the world, one said, “Life is not about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself.” Anonymous is a very wise person. I would like to meet Anonymous someday. However, I find it somewhat ironic that Anonymous said this. Clearly, Anonymous has not followed any part of this quotation. But creating yourself is hard. I mean, seriously. You have nowhere to start from. You’re an amorphous wad of clay. And then there are all these people bumping up against you, trying to mold you into something, and you’re not sure if that’s you or not. So you try that for a while, but it doesn’t work so well, so then you try molding yourself, but it’s harder than you thought it was going to be, because you’re so used to being in that one mold. I’m feeling stressed just talking about it. Coming into this year, I was one thing. I was me…or so I thought. Going back to Yael Naïm, I am a new soul. I’m already different from the person I was coming into this year. I still recognize myself, but things are definitely different. But that’s cool. Change is good; it’s that character building that sucks. One thing I need to remind myself to do is be more positive. It’s not like it’s a problem; I’m still plenty optimistic, but there’s at least one moment in every day where I think, “I can’t do this” or “This will never get done” or “I hate (fill in the blank here).” And that’s not so good. I’m a lot luckier than lots of people. At meals, when people say, “Eww, this is nasty, I’m not eating that”, I always joke, “Eat all your food. There are starving Armenians (or Ethiopians or Azerbaijanians or Tahitians) in the world who don’t have that tuna casserole to eat.” But here’s the thing: There are starving Armenians and Ethiopians and Azerbaijanians and Tahitians in the world. There are starving Americans. And I have three meals a day and a roof over my head and a bed that’s four feet off the floor, but still has bunches of pillows and blankets. Come on, what more do I need? Living the moments now is my goal. Omar Khayyam said “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” My life is wonderful. And to make it even more lovely, I’m going to “live deep and suck out the marrow from life”. And I’m going to be more positive and optimistic to help make my soul even more new and fresh and squeaky clean. And I’m going to think like “Steel Magnolias”. In this fabulous, heartwarming, bittersweet movie, the always optimistic Truvy says “Smile! It increases your face value!” And along with Thoreau and Anonymous and Yael Naïm and Omar Khayyam, Truvy really has something there.

Increasing my face value one giggle at a time,

Susannah

“To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. ” -William Blake

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