Seeking some familiar faces and simple entrance into the New Year, I spent the 2013-2014 transition in Harrisonburg for a reunion with college friends, Buffalo Wild Wings, and gin with soda water and rose simple syrup. The night was lively, filled with high-heeled stumbles, jello shot genitalia, bottle rockets (a terrible idea), and plastic cup table games. We survived. And more importantly, enjoyed ourselves.
So. Hi, 2014.
I've never been good at New Years Resolutions.
I often make vague ones, and ones that I tend not to really ever end up doing. (Last year, however, my resolution was to drink more wine, which I definitely did.) I understand the appeal, of course. New Years is a great landmark to assess your life, and decide what changes you want to make. It makes you feel so much better about indulging in those shots of fireball and late night pizza, because, heck, you will never do that in the next year. The hard part is forcing that change. You're essentially turning on a green light and yelling GO NOW DIFFERENT and then expect a change to occur. From my experience, there are two types of change in the world. Forced change and decided change. The forced change come from habitat, or things beyond our control. It comes from when you stand outside a bluestoned dorm room, waving as your parents drive back to their house without you in it for the first time. The first time the wrong person says "I love you." When you're working your first job within your field of study and harshly realize "I hate this." When you go to call someone, and realize you no longer can. That's when we change, because we have to.
And then there's the type of change that requires a decision. Change from within. I WILL go to Cycling, even if it kills me. I WILL stop making out with thirty year old men when I'm drunk and in a foreign country. I WILL call my parents. I WILL get over ______.
I am not good at either.
Perhaps it's because I'm a Libra.
Luckily for me, sometimes change is unneccesary. Because like some deep intuition, that thing that we crave already exists within us. It's stays, even when untouched, balanced within us like a mustard seed. An ever-present plant that without the proper care and attention, remains deep in the soil. There's no need to "change," only to observe, listen, and let the damn thing grow.
A few nights ago, I enjoyed the company of my good friend Stacey, the Pajama Men, and a snowy DC evening. We ate spicy salads. The food was good, but not nearly as delicious as the conversation between Stacey and myself. Stacey had recently returned from a trip to Israel. Over our greens, we traded stories from our adventures across the pond; hers consisting of camel rides and nearly getting married off, and mine of ginjinha and bike rides along the Portuguese coast.
"So," Stacey asked me at one point. "Tell me your favorite thing, your least favorite thing, and the thing that you learned about yourself."
Favorite thing: everything. Least favorite thing: leaving. Thing I learned about myself: Uhhhhhh.
It took me a sec. I hadn't really thought about it before that moment. But upon consideration, I found I learned I have a seed of utter fearlessness. It was always sitting there, like a box of Samoas in my freezer I totally forgot I had.
In foreign countries (and even the foreign United State), there is no embarrassment. There is no failure. There's NO (!!!) regret! You're surrounded by people you will most likely never see again, in a place that you may never return to. You are only expected to live, learn, and enjoy. It's a sense of freedom that explains the wanderlust in all of the adventurers of the world.
So for this New Year, I want to remember that a little nugget of bravery exists. I don't want to change; I want to remember: fear can be conquered. Fear is weak. Fear should never be a roadblock in our own little Route 66.
It's much more fun this way anyway.