For me, Sunday mornings is the sound of gunshots coming from the nearby lake view range paired with golden sunlight. Hearing that sound on Sundays reminds me of spending my childhood with my dad on the lake fishing. It evokes images in my mind of people taking the day off and just enjoying themselves on a calming Sunday.
I’m tired today. Several neighbors were partying loudly all night and I stayed up until at least 1 AM answering travel questions from my mom who seems to have caught some of my travel bug. I spent much of the morning just fantasizing about more travel again. As usual, I’m way behind on my list of To Do’s for Sunday.
The friend who I met up with for lunch yesterday has all of these plans to enroll in graduate school, for this certification and that certification, for a house and a job in Orange County when she’s more settled down to the location of the school district she’ll work in, the city she’ll live in and the type of dog she’ll own. She tells me how she has achieved all of our goals thus far and can check them off when she looks back at what she’s written. I felt a little bad as I sat listening to her because I just don’t feel that driven… I told her, I’m done with grad school and I’m working the perfect school already… Now, all I want to do is to travel… Like anyone else, she tells me to look forward to summer vacation and to quit teaching summer school.
It’s been almost 24 hours since lunch with her, and thinking back on the conversation and of all of the hours I’ve spent in the last few years fantasizing about travel compared to actually traveling, I realize that summer vacation, if I had one, is just not enough for me because I do have goals too. I have goals to develop my yoga, Spanish, and Chinese and those are just not things you can learn in a summer!
And yes, I do have the perfect job with a lot of room for development as well as great income for the retirement of my parents and myself. All of these schools I’ve worked at and all I wanted was to work with/ under someone who actually pushed innovative educational ideals rather than the outdated educational norms of most schools and an acceptance for the population I teach and I’ve finally found it along with a state-of-the-art facility. It is within close proximity to family and my employers seem to love me thus far. I’ve been paying off student loans from grad school like crazy since getting this job and should be completely done paying off grad school loans by 2017. I couldn’t ask for more! And yet, I have this itch, this wanderlust! How long will I soothe this wanderlust with local photography and exploring before I can’t resist the urge to explore the world again?! Am I just endlessly attracted to the stimulation of constant novelty? Only time will reveal the answer to these questions. For now, I should learn to sit with discomfort rather than scratching at itches. I cannot keep getting what I want and then changing my external surroundings just for a sense of novelty and adventure (or can I…Dopamine! 🙂 ?) Everything I want to learn and explore can be done in very small doses on calming Sundays and summer vacations, if I had one… Because family is important and I want to have the time and financial ability to take care of them. And there are many things to learn better from home such as piano, leadership and management. It’s better to learn to change internally rather than externally…to live for today rather than the day I can travel (or insert word of your choice). There’s plenty of time to reach for my goals because Rome wasn’t built in a day. Gosh! It “itches”!!!! It occurs to me how short life is and how renewable a resource money is but not time…. Then, there’s down to earth blogs like Wandering Earl’s most recent post about how even being a career traveler is a routine…Not all fun and sitting on beaches as some people portray it to be… Just maybe if I can convince the new intern to take summer school off my plate, I can live the best of all worlds: a job that isn’t just a job, it’s a vision unfolding… public education reforming the best it can under an enthusiastic new leadership… proximity to my friends and family… and time to travel and learn new things.
Last night, I sat at the piano for the first time in months since I got my most recent job. I couldn’t remember the names of the notes, but somehow my fingers knew where to go… Muscle memory…
I had the hardest time getting started this morning. Thankfully, it is Saturday. I laid around a lot today until finally I called a friend around lunch to see if she wanted to meet up and catch up. It was just what I needed to get my lazy butt off the couch to throw in some laundry and then go meet her. As we parted in the parking lot, a few hours later, she said to me, “You aren’t one of Those; are you? One of those who get everything you want and then you don’t want it any more.” At that moment, I realized, I was “one of those.” It’s why I’ve been so mobile and why I keep fantasizing about visiting far off lands doing so many different things with my life…and even upon visiting, it still isn’t enough. “You have learn to live with discomfort and remember to take care of yourself,” my younger friend advised. And I realized, I have a lot to be grateful for in my current state in life. My younger friend is always full of wisdom despite her youth….
On the way home, I stopped by at a local shipping store to mail out some items. When I had been in college, I had worked for the happy couple who owned the store. I saw a clerk and the woman owner present. I asked her where her husband was and was greeted with the news, “He passed away.” The next several minutes was spent in her arms as she cried. I was in shock and she apologized, “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you the bad news.” I recalled that before I had gone into the store, I had looked up their hours on Yelp in the morning and was surprised to see a lot of bad reviews about poor customer service from a woman in the store, which had surprised me because they were always such a happy couple and very accommodating. Looking back at the dates of the reviews, I realize what a lot of stress she must be under running the store by herself now that her husband is gone. They had moved up from Orange County to Los Angeles County and purchased this store as their retirement fund. Such is life… Unpredictable. I am very saddened by the news of his passing. He was one of those people whose energy could make you smile any time of day or night… That was just his personality.
In just a few hours, I went from spending my morning laying around on the living room couch to so many thoughts and emotions. Nothing in my life has really changed… And yet, maybe it has….
I attended my neighbor’s funeral service today. The person there who showed the most grief on her face, in her voice and whole body was her daughter. The two argued like cat and dog when she was alive. Today she shared with me all of these good memories she had of her mother…They were recent memories too, which was surprising and so sweet to me since her mother unintentionally put the family through a lot of stress recently. I guess people don’t appreciate who they have until they’re gone. I’ve been contemplative today despite being very busy. I was thinking that maybe that’s just the way it is: we won’t be appreciated deeply until we are missed, so we shouldn’t take things too personally….?
I’ve also been thinking a lot about what “success” really means to me any more. My latest employers say I’m “walking on water” yet I don’t teach a whole lot differently than I did at my other schools. My principal says he especially liked that I took time off last year to study. He says it shows I am dedicated to my field. I don’t want to be defined by other people’s ideas of success because I’m still the same person I was at other schools, so it bothered me a bit that I couldn’t define success for myself… Because all successes and failures are impermanent so I don’t want to base my happiness and feelings of gratification on the approval or disapproval of others. In some ways, I have changed. I’ve learned how to act confidently and to be my own publicist…Because really…who really knows what you do with your day but you….? Everything else anyone hears about is really just gossip which is what happens when you aren’t being your own publicist…People make up a story/ stories based on speculation because they don’t know you and they want a story… I’ve learned all of this through much trial and error, so perhaps the meaning of success is the ability to continue to be open to learning as opposed to defensive and afraid to fail; and thus, afraid to try/ learn new things because it takes many failures to master new skills. The meaning of success then…is perhaps to not be afraid of failure, to accept that failure is part of the cycle of learning/ growing/ success. This can be applied to any area of life. Are you a success at your relationship with your family/ friends? That depends…Are you still trying/ growing/ learning despite frustrations or have you given up due to fear/ aversion to/ of pain/ failure? If one stays on the road/ journey/ path/ cycle of success rather than giving up, how can one possibly be a failure? To stay on the path means continual growth.
-What is your definition of success?
-Do you think one can truly be appreciated while one is alive?
It was Wednesday
I was at work
My phone rang
I picked it up
There was a misunderstanding
But one thing was clear
Death had come by
A few minutes of bewilderment
The phone rang again
The misunderstanding was cleared
Death had come to take you away
It was as they say…
Death knows no dignity
Of all of the scenarios you had thought of, for when Death would come,
You never thought of this one
So many times you cried picturing each painful moment,
But never did you picture this one
Death knows no dignity
You waited so long for Death
And Death waited until now
Even your daughter sat ashen underneath the tree
Twenty six years I looked out my window
At your light
And now I look out at silent darkness
For Death knew no dignity
A poem I wrote about the manner my dear neighbor was found by her daughter on Wednesday. She will truly be missed. I will still be thinking about her every Mother’s Day and when my birthday comes…. When Christmas comes…. We met her on our first night in my hometown in 1989. She invited us in to her home and forced her daughter to share her Barbie collection with me. Only yesterday, I was eating a Klondike bar out of the freezer, one of many things she had passed over the fence to us over the years. She was not a happy woman and lived with much physical and mental pain but she always took the time to show her love and generosity to others.