alone time, making time, and never being on time

if i have a single, fatal flaw, it is most undeniably my incredible ability to be late to almost every single thing that awaits me. i genuinely believe that when i die, the attendees of my funeral will be waiting in the pews for at lest 15 minutes before my body gets there. i am absolutely always late, and i have no idea why. as i’ve gotten older, i’ve started to accept that i will be chronically off-time for every plan i make, and have decided to look at start times more as guidelines than rigid regulations. despite this most serious of hamartias (and likely contrary to the belief of any person who has ever made plans with me), I actually have a really good grasp on the concept of time.

maybe showing up at 11:30 isn’t my strong suit, but i understand the importance of time. i know that time is how we show love and find happiness. i think there’s some kind of convoluted logarithm that you can use to measure your value to others based on time and effort and a load of other variables (but i’m about as good at math as i am at being punctual, so don’t quote me on it). this odd and unwavering belief in some kind of logarithmic way to measure abstract human value has led me to place a personally unsurpassed level of  importance on the time i spend with the people i love, and the quality of it.

i believe wholeheartedly in making time for people who matter-and by “making time” i don’t mean sitting in the same room and existing separately for a few hours and then lying about having a great time hanging out. making time means to at least semi-unplug. it means to exist as a conversation rather than as two people talking. it means sharing ideas and meaningful dialogue and genuinely being with that person. being in the same room as someone may diminish feelings of loneliness, but it will not always leave you feeling fulfilled.

making time for the people you love is undoubtedly one of the most crucial things in the human experience, but it is equally important to find time in between to be alone. one of the greatest things you can do is be unapologetically on your own. i find a great improvement in my mental health and my confidence after spending a few hours wandering alone and exploring the things i want to, in the ways i want to. you will learn a lot from others by being with them, but you will learn very little about yourself until you let yourself exist without trying to keep others entertained.

although time eludes me on a daily basis, the importance of it never does. it is not the importance of time measured in minutes and hours that i value, but the time measured in happiness and used to show love that matters.

return of the amateur blogger and coffee shops

It’s been a year since my last post. I came back accidentally. I was clearing my inbox in a coffee shop when i found an email about a comment from a blogger telling me i should write more, and appreciating the genuineness of my posts. I started reading through my old post and i felt excitement and happiness and nostalgia building up inside my chest and it reminded me why i started writing in the first place.

at the beginning of the year, i made an agreement with the right side of my brain that i would write more. i spent most of 2016 focusing on my art, but i have come to learn that despite my ability to draw flowers and paint landscapes at a slightly-above-average level, i will never be able to convey as much through my visual art as i have been able to through my writing. when i read the comment urging me to write more, it grabbed something inside of me, and reminded me of all the things i felt like i had left to say.

i looked around at the people sitting, laughing, reading the newspaper. all of them were thinking or feeling something. all of them were looking for ideas and information to take from their reading or conversations. i thought of people reading my posts in that way. i thought of all the things i had left to say and share, and i thought of people stumbling across my posts some day in a coffee shop, looking for ideas or information to take from it, and i hope i can be that for at least one person.

 

passion in their eyes and the reverse bucket list

i have decided it is unfair to myself to make a list of things i want to do.

recently, i have found myself feeling sad about the abundance of things that i want to do that i may never get the chance to, despite my burning determination. it is possible that i will never stand under an icelandic waterfall or climb K2 or float in the dead sea, despite my best efforts. because of this, a bucket list is not as good for my wandering soul as it may be for others.

i’ve decided it is better to instead, make a list of the things that i have done; things that are meaningful to me. this way, instead of staring at a list of things i have never done, i can think everyday of the list of things i have done. instead of being inspired to do things as of means of crossing things off, i will be inspired to do things as a means of adding them to something.

on this list, i can add the things i love. the people i’ve met, the things i’ve done and the places i’ve been.this, i feel, is good, because in the course of a day, we can see and feel and do many things that we wanted or needed to see and feel and do, but didn’t know it until it happened. these are things that you can’t add to a bucket list, because you don’t know they’re going to happen, but they are still things that you need to see and do and feel at least once in your life.

for example, most people would never include in their bucket list “see pure, unaltered passion in the eyes of the people around you,” and not to any selfish fault of their own, but simply because it isn’t something you think about until you see it.

i am grateful to have had the chance to see many people at many times, full of passion for what they’re doing, what they’re saying and what they know. i am grateful for the passion i see in the people around me, who are lost and unsure of where they’re going or what they’re going to do when they get there; they’re unsure of themselves and life and the future, but the one thing they know is that they love this, whatever it is to them-  art, sports, music, their best friend’s neighbour’s dog- it doesn’t matter.

what matters is the way their eyes light up, the way their faces change. the hand gestures and the ideas. what matters is that everything disappears and to them, in that moment there is only that one thing, and they could talk about it for ages, tell stories and share facts. what matters is the rants, the run on sentences and the excitement in their voices. whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. what matters is the pure, raw passion they have in their eyes and voices.

i wake up everyday knowing that i am going to do great things. i wake up knowing something new is going to happen to me as soon as i walk out the door. i wake up knowing someone, somewhere is talking about something with a deep passion in their hearts. i know that good things are happening and that everything will be fine.

 

 

 

friendly strangers, all day breakfast and the feeling of leaving your comfort zone

it seems that some of the best things that have happened to me since i moved to this city have happened on a bus. friendships, memories and a lot of uncomfortable encounters. because of this, unlike most people, I actually find a lot of joy in public transit. so it was no surprise, that on a sunday morning at 10:30 am, I was on a bus headed somewhere.

normally, on a sunday everyone is trying to get nowhere in particular, but on this specific sunday, everyone seemed to have a place to be. this was, in vast majority, due to the fact that the city’s football team had a game at 1, and as our bus passed the accordion buses taking people to the stadium, all dressed in their colours and full of excitement and hometown glory, i saw something that I had not seen much of since I moved here; I saw people in an excited rush. I saw people who were anxious to get somewhere that wasn’t work or meetings or school for reasons that weren’t supporting families or feeding children. I saw men and women and children and people who maybe did or maybe didn’t know each other, talking excitedly and sharing stories about past games. I saw a city that was larger than life (to a small town girl), come together over a sport that they loved.

i was sitting in the seat next to my friend, smiling and admiring this through the window, when an older man and the woman next to him caught me through their window. they smiled back and waved like they knew who I was and it was then, because of those friendly strangers on the bus, in all their football-inspired excitement, that I felt something I had been longing to feel since leaving the comfort of my little farm town; finally, sitting on a bus in the middle of the city, waving at people i’d never met, i felt like i was part of something good. for the first time, I saw the city as something human, instead of a governmental, concrete hunger games arena, where people might run you over with their car if you take too long to cross the street, or push you down the escalator if you don’t run down the last half of it. i saw leisure and happiness in a city that never rests.

after an period of wandering through my favourite little neighbourhood, getting overly excited about dogs (literally so many dogs) and feeling peace in the atmosphere around us, we found our way into a small diner and found happiness in cheap, all day breakfast. it wasn’t until then that i realized how comfortable I’d become with chaos.

i am grateful to have found myself in this place that would’ve scared me years ago, packed and noisy, eating breakfast at the bar on a sunday afternoon, because in realizing how at ease i am with disorder, disarray and unscheduled incidents, i was reminded of how i have grown in the past years. i was reminded of the great changes that had come to me since i left my comfort zone in the rear-view mirror. there, sitting next to the friend i never would have made, in a place i never would i have been, i was reminded of the saying “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”

i knew then that i am exactly where i need to be right now. i knew that leaving my comfort zone behind was the right choice, and despite the doubt i sometimes feel, the papers that are piling up, the struggle to keep scholarships, the approaching finals, and all my personal difficulties, i had the overwhelming feeling that it was all going to be okay.

 

coffee shops, getting lost, and the odd possibility of falling in love

2 interesting facts: 1) it is possible to fall in love with every place you go and every person you meet, and, 2) there are more than one kind of love

I, for one, have fallen in love with all the places I’ve been, even if I’ve never returned; i’ve fallen in love with friends and moments in time, even if i only ever occasionally call those moments to memory, and it is also highly likely and most probable that I have  fallen a little bit in love with parts all the people I’ve met. not a real, romantic, i-wanna-have-ten-kids-and-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you-love, but just a pure, innocent, let-get-coffee-and-tell-stories-until-3AM kind of thing.

i found myself with all three of these kinds of love today. the first one, i found sitting in Morala Cafe with a very good friend and a clear mind. i felt myself fall in love with the atmosphere, with the quiet break in a tiny part of a large city that was always too busy to take a break, and most importantly, with the coffee. as I sat, for the first time in weeks, having a real conversation that wasn’t about essays or scholarships or economics, I found a place in my heart for the tiny cafe and the people in it.

i didn’t just find love once today. I found the second kind of love somewhere between downtown and the middle of nowhere, on a bus with people I mostly didn’t know tonight, laughing about things that don’t matter anymore. I found it again in a car on what may have been a highway, in a place that was unfamiliar to me, telling stories about things I’ve already forgotten.

by next week, i will have loved much more. I will have gone many more places, done many more things, and met many more people. Regardless of the things to come that I will love, or the fact that in 3 days I may forget how deeply I have loved things today, it won’t change the fact that today, I fell in love three times, and that is three times more than some people can love in a week.

knowing that everyday, I have the possibility of falling in love with something new, is the reason I will wake up tomorrow morning and face the day with great enthusiasm.

kind strangers, inspired generations and adventures to come

as you can imagine, when my alarm sounded at 5:30 am, my 3 hours of sleep on top of the consistent pounding in my head had me less than motivated to leave the comfort of my bed — but I did. I’m not sure why, but I think it had something to do with the way that waking up before the sun always has that quiet promise of adventure. this was the quiet promise that brought me to a train station at 5:55 am.

if the story ended there, with me, a friend and a backpack, waiting for a train before dawn has even broken for the sake of adventure, it would be a great day and nothing would’ve gone wrong; but, the story doesn’t end there, and so naturally, everything goes wrong.

see, I was actually motivated by two things this morning. 1: of course, the poetic promise of adventure that is carried by the soft darkness of the early morning, and, 2: the very real, very literal fact that today was National We Day, it started at 7:15 and I had an hour and a half transit route to make happen in an hour.

this, as most normal people know, is not do-able; however I am not most normal people. I am a very determined, very tiny girl with very, very unrealistic ideas of how things are going to work. in my head, everything went smoothly; in reality, we ended up half an hour late, lost in the middle of nowhere, freezing and 20 minutes past where we needed to be. don’t be concerned, this is typical.

as it turns out the stop that the transit app told us to transfer buses at, didn’t actually exist. we didn’t realize until roughly 6 stops after the place ours’ was supposed to be, that we had gone significantly beyond our destination, and decided it would likely be in our interest to disembark the bus to assess our options. although the app had already lied to us once today, we relied again on the transit app to suggest the best option to be the least late. again, the app deceived us. technology-2, student volunteers- 0.

we walked to the bus stop suggested to us, only to have a very kind stranger give us actual directions a bus stop around the corner that would get us where we needed to go without making us transfer 3 times. once we were safely and comfortably on the bus, we were given more directions by more kind strangers, who were nice to us despite the fact that we were 30 university students occupying the seats they usually sit in on their daily commute.

we were half an hour late, but, upon arriving we discovered that due to weather conditions, so was almost everyone else. the running, the chaos and the confusion didn’t end with the morning buses, or even the final pre-event training session 15 minutes before our jobs started — it was actually, literally relentless. it almost wouldn’t had been worth it, if it weren’t for the fact that it was 100 percent, entirely worth it.

Not only because the grungy 9 year old inside me finally got to see Simple Plan live, or because I was in attendance for the Justin Trudeau’s first public address as prime minister or even because I got to hang out in suites for most of the day and eat free food. all of the ordeals, the mixed up bus routes, the running between rooms and confusing orders was all worth it when I walked into the arena, and watched a generation of kids become inspired by the things people were saying and doing and showing them. It was all worth it to know that there was an entire arena full of kids who can change the world and now feel empowered to.

Despite all the bumps in the road today, we ended up in a pretty good place, and tomorrow I’ll wake up knowing that there is always a promise of adventure and inspiration no matter where I am.

the end of the world, small steps towards gender equality and doors with no access signs

today, for the first time since that one biology test in grade 11, I almost failed something. at first, it was almost physically painful to see that piece of paper, lying on my desk with that smug red pen all over it. I wanted to cry. I wanted to burn the test. I wanted to beg for a retest or extra credit or something to fix what, at the time, seemed like the biggest, most unbearable failure I had ever experienced. It was in that moment when I, the overly dramatic university student, felt the world was ending, that I came to the incredibly important realization that it, in fact, was not ending.

maybe it was the way that realization made my one, single test feel so insignificant in the bigger picture, or maybe it was the caffeine from my first coffee of the day kicking in, but all I know is that this morning, at 9:58 am, I was more thankful than ever for the coffee in my hand, the vast temporariness of bad things and the world that was not ending.

that was when I knew today would be a very, very eventful day.

as it happens, today, in canada, more women have been put in seats of political power than ever before and it’s pretty celebration-worthy. the brand new prime minister made a very tiny step (but still a step) towards the illusive concept of gender equality by announcing a cabinet that was 50% women and 50% men. because I got out of bed today, I can be thankful for things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, like live broadcasts of history-making things and for the entire generation of little girls that can grow up knowing leadership is for them, too.

there were brief moments today when I wondered if I secretly regretted getting out of bed. such moments included the one where I failed to notice the sign on the door that said “no access” and found myself and my friend locked in a staircase at the end of a dead hallway. in these times there are three things you can do: 1) extreme panicking, 2) swallow your pride and call a friend to cross campus and let you out (warning, they may think you’re pranking them and hang up) or 3) intense exploring. we, as it turns out, saw these things less as options and more as a series of events that started with panic and ended with exploring.

eventually, we managed to escape dungeon-ish trap we were in, but not without gaining a funny story and an important lesson: always look for the signs, because if they’re there (regardless of if they’re clear or not) they can’t say they didn’t warn you.