Today in my Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation class (which is incredible, by the way- our first reading by Cynthia Cohen was about how the arts can aide the process of reconciliation after suffering, trauma, and/or war- you can find it here if you want to read more), we were encouraged to take a sheet of poetry and walk outside and observe the world for ten minutes. We let the sights and sounds wash over us and reflected about the world. I realized I let myself walk so much slower during this activity, and I realized how much of my environment I miss on a daily basis when I didn’t have time to truly absorb all happens on campus around me. However, what really got to me in the context of this activity was the sight of a blue sweatshirt tangled up in a tree on the side of the road. I got to wondering about the person who had left it behind and hadn’t noticed- where was he (or she) rushing off to? In my mind, I created a beautiful story about someone who was so focused on rushing to pursue a passion that they didn’t realize when their clothing was ripped off by a tree (which, admittedly, takes a lot of distraction).
I realized how much less beautiful the story would be to me if the person was just running late to something they were halfheartedly pursuing and didn’t have time to stop and fetch their lost item. This class has also sparked my reflection about how I think everyday lives are beautiful. I think part of that beauty is the capacity to pursue dreams and passions. There is definitely something to be said about creating a sense of security for yourself and making sure you have the means to get by, but society engrains us with this need from such a young age that we sometimes end up overvaluing its role in our lives. Personally, I’ve been given so much and so many opportunities that success is something that I want to reach, both for myself because I like pursuing goals, but also to be able to give back to those who have supported me my entire life. I’ve been so supported that failure is something I think I was afraid of for a long time, and stability was something I planned for and actively sought. Then I thought about the reasons the people I loved wanted me to succeed in certain ways- they wanted me to have enough stability to be able to relax and follow my passions. They support anything that makes me happy but worry if what makes me happy doesn’t guarantee future stability.
It’s kind of a vicious cycle- who knows if we’ll ever get the chance to follow our dreams again if we give them up in the name of stability, but who knows if we’ll have enough security if we follow our dreams wholeheartedly now. I used to put a time stamp on my dreams, saying I’d follow a “plan B” if they didn’t work out, but now I think that’s silly. I’d rather push my dreams to the very limit of my potential, for as long as I can. Of course I want to be secure enough to be responsible and take care of myself and pay my bills. If I give up all of my dreams now and pursue something that doesn’t incorporate my passions purely for the sake of security, though, I think life will lose its vividness for me, and I won’t be able to throw myself into work in the way that success in a preordained path requires me to. I don’t want to give up. I want to blend my passions and find a way to balance them so I can find happiness in every day AND in the long run. I want to lose my sweatshirt not because the harshness of my watch’s ticking commands me to a pre-ordained path of timeliness for something I lack interest in, but because I’m spinning through the woods, losing my breath, winter air coloring my cheeks as I think of all of the possibilities I have to do things that I care about and follow my heart. And I hope that when I get cold without that sweatshirt, the people I care about will be there to warm me with their hugs, as they always have been before.
*P.S. I love John Green and the vlogbrothers-you can purchase this wonderful poster here.