So often all I'm doing is marking time. Each day becomes about small tasks to check off my to-do list: work, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. It's not frequent that I take a step back and assess how far I've come. I know it's funny for me to say that because every birthday and holiday I'm assessing how I'm different from the year prior, but today is special because today is a huge anniversary.
On this day 10 years ago, I landed in London where I would be studying abroad for the next four and a half months. I was excited, nervous, sad. I trundled my black suitcase up Queen's Gate with a guy from my feature articles writing class, stopping cab drivers asking them where our building was.
|This is me, circa 2005, reading stuff in the British Library. Seemed appropriate for the title of this post. Sorry for the terrible quality.|
I knew everything and I knew nothing. My world was topsy-turvy. It may not seem like much, but this 10-year anniversary is getting to me because a lot has happened internally and externally since then. I'm getting a glimpse into the past and a cure for the amnesia where I think the way life is now is the way it always was.
At 20, I was a raw nerve, a copper wire without the insulation. I felt everything so deeply and intensely that the only way I could cope was through food and fantasizing about the future; two practices I'm no longer engaging in. When it comes down to it, my study abroad experience helped shape me into the adult I am in ways I never could have anticipated.
Living in London I worked for a website that reviewed restaurants. They encouraged me to plagiarize, and being the upstanding journalist that I am, could not handle that. I called in reinforcements (aka, my mom) to try to switch to something else to no avail. The internship people basically told me and my mother to suck it up and deal with it. It was that experience that ignited my fire and gave me compassion for others in similar, helpless situations. It showed me what mattered to me and how no, I can't work for just anyone, that some things are more important than money or internship credits.
I am really sick today, like, why-am-I-out-of-bed sick, so I apologize if this post is terrible. Mostly what I'm getting at is anniversaries are important times for reflection. To pat ourselves on the back for what we've done and to ask ourselves, “Do I like where I'm heading and who I'm becoming?” Life is about so much more than marking time or accumulating wealth. Today as I flipped through pictures all I could think was, “Why did I take so many pictures of buildings? Where are all the people?”
As I'm heading into a new decade I think that's a great reminder because 10 years on I don't care that I went to Notre Dame or visited Big Ben. I want to see pictures of friends and reminisce about that time we climbed statues in Trafalgar Square or we goofed off in Hyde Park. Seeing places is great and all, but I want to do more than mark time; I want to bond with those around me, to love and be loved.
I dream of a world where we take a break to assess our lives every once and a while. A period to check in on ourselves and determine if we like what we see. A world where we give and receive love. A world where we're doing more than just marking time.
Another world is not only possible, it's probable.