I plan on getting back to regular blog posts in the very near future. Bear with me, dear readers.
But let me tell you, I’ve done a bit of reflecting on 2008 recently, and I’m honestly really excited for 2009. I will graduate from college this year, be maid of honor in my sister’s wedding, have an Internship with PBS in Chicago, turn 22, and move forward. These are just among the things I know I will do. I can’t even predict what other stuff will happen! I’m trying to stay positive for it all. And I think that’s healthy for me, even though it’s difficult.
Most of this reflection came about when writing my part of my family’s Christmas Letter. I’ll let you read it, instead of summarizing it. (see below) But I think what really came out of it for me, was maintaining a positive attitude about everything. So I hope I’ll remain hopeful. And I hope you all are having an excellent start to 2009.
CHRISTMAS LETTER 2008:
I’ve found it especially difficult this year to sit down and write this letter because of all the other demands on my time. Something that, to me, feels wildly different from this time last year, when I wrote my letter early on and with ease, lounging on my bed in Quito. I was calm and hopeful for the year to come. This year, I couldn’t feel any more different. My life now is precariously balanced between several demands on my time; classes (for my final year), my jobs as a Senior RA and a TA for the documentary classes, my Senior Individualized Project (a documentary film The Chenille Sisters), and those are just my obligations. Throw in the time I set aside to hang out with friends and family, the time I spend cooking, and the time I spend cleaning my two-room, in-dorm apartment, I find myself frantically trying to cram everything in. I often don’t even have time to feel hopeful for the next day, let alone the year to come.
At moments like these, when I feel supremely stressed, frantic, and undeniably unsure of how I will possibly get through it all, I either call my mother, the ever-flowing fountain of wisdom and calm that she is, or I retreat into memories of places where I was at peace. I go to Parque Ichimbia, a beautiful park overlooking Quito’s Old Town. I go to Urubamba, whose misty mountains and fields stretch on for miles of unwavering beauty. I go to a small orchid garden in Mindo, where I feel surrounded in magic and silence, nothing but the buzzing of hummingbird’s wings.
I end up, usually, by recalling one of two places. I often revisit a beach on Isla Isabela, in the Galapagos Islands, were my classmates and I stayed for two days on our five day tour of the islands. Isabela is unremarkable. We didn’t even tour the island itself. But on this particular beach, a few friends and I laid down on the Malecon and watched the stars. I remember being struck by the vastness of the sky. More stars than you see anywhere else, because there’s less light pollution. A completely unhindered vastness. Waves lapping at the shore, measured, like breathing, calm. And I find myself lifted back to that freedom, that calmness, and the happiness, the complete openness I felt to just being in that moment.
Few places have felt like that in my life. But when my parents joined me for a two-week tour of Peru and the Ecuadorian Sierra, I found another. They call it a Wonder of the World, and I understand its grandeur. Machu Picchu, Peru, even overrun with tourists, was one of the most calming places I’ve ever been. Walking in, seeing the absolute enormity of that place, and feeling a little closer to the past than the present…it’s indescribable. But the overwhelming sense of safety, protection, fully-fledged peacefulness…that’s what Machu Picchu feels like.
In the past few months, as I’ve thought about where my life is going, what I’ll do after graduation, how I’m going to possibly get everything done that I have to in order to even get to that point, I’ve often wondered whether I’ll ever end up feeling that peace again. But in those moments of nostalgia, when I’m seeing the starry sky, or those ancient Peruvian rocks, I remember what I’ve learned: how to savor every moment. My pace may be frantic, I may have to go read a hundred pages and write a paper, but the sun is shining and the snow that hinders my way to the library sparkles like glitter. And just those few breaths, those few beats of calm, are enough to be thankful for. I am healthy, happy, and somehow, still hopeful.
May 2009 bring you peace.