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Open your eyes

My trip to charlotte a month ago, was one of the most satisfying, spontaneous one. After my finals were over, I just wanted to stay one extra day in Greensboro before leaving home for the summer. I lied to my mom telling her that I had another final left. So that day after my last final, I walked around downtown by myself just enjoying the nice evening. I ran into a friend after a long time and we had dinner together at a nice restaurant. He invited me over to his house in Charlotte. With much hesitant, I sad yes afraid how his family will perceive me. It was a two-hour drive to Charlotte. We talked about a lot of things during that two-hour drive. While I was staying at his place for the night, his family treated me like someone from their own home. They were so kind and generous to give me a room and make me feel comfortable. We even though his parents spoke a different language, they were still trying to have a conversation with me. 🙂 They told me how they immigrated from Vietnam back in the day and worked so hard to build a good life over here.

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.

This can’t be phrased any other way. It’s when we open up listening to other people’s stories from different walks of life, we gain perspective. During this past year, I found myself engaging in meaningful conversation with friends, going to intercultural events hosted by the campus, spending time with nature and writing more reflections. If I don’t have the time to sit down somewhere peacefully and write on my blog, I try to note it down on my phone. It’s been a year since I started blogging and it really helps me to express my thoughts and emotion out there. It feels good reading other blogs and interacting with an audience around the world. Recently, a blog caught my attention where it was talking about expanding your horizons. Reading that post reminded me why it’s important to open our eyes to the world. I can’t explain how much I want to be on the other side of the globe right now immersed in another culture. I hope one day I’ll able to take a break and go backpacking around the world. Even though I am not financially stable right now to be a full-time traveler, I make road trips and take up small adventures then and now like white water rafting, parasailing, scuba diving and so on.

I know people say that traveling is important to experience life. But I still get that sense of joy of experiencing different things around me. For a long time, I been so crazy about trying new cuisines –Mediterranean, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Thailand, Mexican 🙂 I often go with a friend or two and it’s really fun talking and bonding over the meal. If I can’t find a friend to dine with, I am not anxious anymore to eat in a restaurant alone. Lately, I started watching foreign films. As much as it feels overwhelming trying to read the subtitles and focus on the screen at the same time, it feels thrilling to learn a new language. Other days I love watching animal documentaries. I am not sure if it has to do with the cinematography or its close details, I get adrenaline each time I watch them. My point is that by doing these small ventures, I am able to get out of my comfort zone and expand my knowledge.

Recently I started a part-time job for the summer. Back in high school, I stayed in a job I despised so much to various reasons. After I quit that, I didn’t apply for any other job for a long time worried that I won’t be satisfied with the new one. Over the years, I learned it’s impossible to find a job you actually enjoy. I am excited about this job though, the people are very friendly and easy to work with. I am hoping to save up some money for my backpacking adventures. I know that is not going to be anytime soon, but it feels good to work towards a dream like that.

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Last semester, a conversation with one of my friends about ‘The Lion King’ made me watch the movie again. It is really interesting we find ourselves going back to lot of things we used to do when we were kids. When I was a kid, I never appreciated my cousins and family back in India. Little did I know what I was leaving behind when my family came to the US. Now when I go back and visit them, I find myself more fond of them than when I was a child. I remember back when my brothers and I came back from school, my mom always prepared something for us to eat, and she would feed us one by one.

It was few weeks ago, I was working on a assignment I saw a group of kids playing together outside in the playground. They were playing broomstick, one boy being chased after the other three kids. There was a another group of kids jumping in the puddle. I was able to hear their laughter from all the way inside. I was surprised at myself how amused I was watching them play there. They laugh till dawn and let the fire within them rage. They see kindness in the world and live with soft hearts. They carry hope in their hearts, innocence in their eyes and lots of playfulness in themselves. From having the most bizarre imagination, laughing when they are cheerful, crying hard when they are sad, there is no one else that is honest as themselves.

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Sleeping at Last

You smile a lot. It’s something I get a lot from people. My friends joke that I am happy even when I shouldn’t be. Smiling is probably the most beautiful remedies that exists in this world. We often fail to notice the power of touch, kindness, smile that could possibly turn a life around. People who are very close to me know that I am a person who loves to smile and laugh a lot in life. Comedy was probably one of the relief that life brought me during my dark days. Back when I was in high school, I used to go to school everyday for five days a week then come back home and lay in bed for next two days. I used to live each day as if I was dying, ridden with anxiety. It’s merely not possible to forget some things or people from our past, but it is possible how we perceive what has already happened to us. Our eyes will take some time to adjust to the overwhelming light surrounding us, but there always lies some certainty within the shortness of breath. We come across lot of other people with different stories far from ours. People who have gone through far more worse times than us, making us grateful that we are still alive even after everything we have been through. With time, we will come to realize just how rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.

I used to feel like I lived in a world where people are afraid to feel anything genuine. I used to let the negatives control my mind and allow them to control my life. I thought the world is out to get me. I looked at everything the wrong way and I really learned this the hard way. I used to lie in bed and just stare at the ceiling in the dark room. There were so many nights I had to cry myself to sleep, thinking about the things that would keep me awake all night. But I don’t want to ever be that 17 year old teenager who had some broken dreams and hopes. Nowadays, I would laugh away my worries and be happy even when life has other plans for me. It was one night during finals week last semester, I was alone in my room studying for my exam. I was so stressed out I didn’t know what to do with myself. I then put on my headphones and just started dancing to some peppy music. I could have broke down crying then, but I thought of something funny instead and laughed hysterically. If someone entered my room at that time, they would probably think I have gone insane. But I feel like that approach at that time saved my sanity. During the summer nights, I usually open my curtain and stare at the night sky. It’s really a calming experience. I still go through some days feeling melancholy and unexplained sadness, but I have learned to overcome it. I chose to surround myself with positive people and laugh whenever I can. I think that’s why my life has turned out as good as it has over the past few years.

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Blind love

There was a swing hanging from a tree in the middle of the lake. He carried her across the lake far away from the shore. He pushed her on the swing. Her feet swayed against the warm water, her floral dress touching the surface of the water. Her laughter was as childlike as she went up into the air and her soft curls brushed by the coastal breeze. Their love for each other rose with the tides and it lived within the waves. She would wait for him everyday on those long wooden stairs until he came home. He awaited to embrace her and feel her tender kiss.

She was the air he breathed. He was the only light she saw through her eyes. Despite his past, she still genuinely loved him. She had a irresistible talent of seeing the beauty inside him, even perhaps he could not see it for himself. She saw the delicacy it takes to caress the broken stars. Everything except her love was getting tiresome for him. He wanted to leave everything behind and start a new life with her, but he was carrying so much burden, pain and regrets. Even as time passed, love did not overcome his emotional baggage and he believed he won’t be able to bring her nothing but darkness into her life. He left hiding her in the most beautiful place in his memories.

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Little seeds

Childhood is always something special we hold onto part of our life. No matter how old we are, we never forget our childhood. I remember when I was a 5 year old how much I wanted to grow up to be a adult. I was tired of my parents treating me as a little girl. As a 20 year old, I have seen how much shades of dark lie within this world. We are disillusioned with the way the world treat us sometimes. From violence, hatred, selfishness and insensitivity. We wish to go back when we were kids. The days filled with pure innocence and laughter makes us nostalgic. But as we grow older we start to see life can be beautiful and in fact it can come out of the strangest places. It’s the passion that arises in the corner of the eye as night befalls. It’s laughing hilariously at the simplest things. Admiring a baby falling asleep in your arms. The evoke of emotion we feel when me meet someone so close to us after a long time. Forgetting to say goodbye with hopes you will see them again. Laying on the ground at night and just gazing into the starry sky. Relaxing under the clouds, feeling the soft summer breeze, watching the leaves move and the clouds transform into different shapes. Learning to move on from our past. And most of all, self discovering, even if that takes a whole life time to know what we truly seek in life. It’s something I am patiently waiting for it to happen.

I am letting life take course on it’s own instead of steering the wheel in the other direction. There was a time I used to wish things were the way they were when I was a child. But I am learning to just let things the way they are and let them align with my life right now. I am learning it’s alright to not have the answers to everything and it’s alright to be anxious about growing up. As kids, we wanted to grow up so badly to experience the complexity of life. It took me few heartbreaks, toxic people, struggles, anxiety for me to realize growing up is nothing like what I imagined from childhood and life can be really chaotic sometimes. In spite of all the madness, life can still be beautiful. Some amazing realizations emerge during these times of struggle. We learn to stop holding onto those who distance farther away from us. We learn to stop worrying what others think about us because we are unique in our own way. We learn what’s truly important and to let the rest go.

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Humanity

Few months ago, I watched a ted talk that touched me deeply. The talk was about Thoughts on humanity, fame and love by Indian film actor Shah Rukh Khan. The way he shared his personal struggles and failures to his audience was really captivating. How he was orphaned at a very teenage age and how he took up roles that many other actors rejected. When he recalled how he took up the responsibility of his family after the early death of his father, it made me realize life could hit us at any time. He mentioned the sad incident with a tone of humor which shows his acceptance of what has happened in the past. In another speech, I heard him say when life hits us with all the force, we don’t give life the space to move at its own pace. Instead, we stay hurting or in despair that makes us forgetting to smile and love others.

In the midst of money making, advancing technologies and media, we sometimes forget what’s really important. We start to live in a world where we often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. We sometimes fail to see it’s the smile of a mother and warmth of a father that brings light to our life. Despite all the sufferings, despairs, hardships and losses, love should triumph all. This is particularly evident as he quotes “Whatever moves you, whatever urges you to create, to build, whatever keeps you from failing, whatever helps you survive is perhaps the oldest and simplest emotion known to mankind and that is love.” No matter how many years pass or how developed the world becomes, humanity will always revolve in its underlying aspect of love.

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Doubt of life

Sitting in front of the fire, wrapped around in warm blankets. Feeling peaceful by the stillness of the azure sea. Even when thousands of diamonds are beside, the moon seems to be in solitude. It’s silver light dazzles over the blue water. Hearing the silent cracks from the fire, my mind ponders upon such doubts. Why does the moon always stay up in the sky. Why does the sun sets and rises the next day. Why do people cry even when they are happy? Why does some people no longer exists in our life. Why does it seems those stars are smiling at us. If we had all the answers to these, would we cease to live?

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Beloved

His eyes were the first to forget. The face he tenderly loved, now a blur. The voice is slowly drifting from his memory like he never heard it before. The sun settles quietly down into the basin of the lake painting the sky in gorgeous purple, crimson and gold. Standing in the middle of the wooden bridge, the man gazes upon the majestic mountains, he remembers the time they were lying beneath a tree on a winter. Admiring the beauty of the snow capped mountains veiled by the white mist. The way he felt and the way he feels will never change. Even when the clouds of uncertainty and darkness of doubt are revealed by the light of truth, he still tells his mind they are destined for each other.

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Passion

There is nothing inspiring about perfection. But there is everything inspiring about passion. It’s that passion what draws us to other people. When you embody such a strong emotion that sets your soul on fire, you grow more closer to the ones who give off that energy. Look to the sea for your own reflection, but do not focus on your imperfection. Our time here is much too brief to ponder on such trivial grief. Walk your life without any fear and nurture your precious aspirations.

Focus on the infinite and everything that is contained within. Focus on a border view of reality and what ultimately it is. In a constant state of evolving, we become more than what we were yesterday. For what was lost in the hustle might shine somewhere far away. Always strive for the better and there will always be something far greater than what we think.

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Past

Time has a incredible gift of helping us move on from our past. As the years go on, it only becomes faded memories. You will start to feel yourself again. You find new passions and meet new people. You will start to discover more about yourself. But there will be those days that you feel at your worst. The past is not your fault but it is your responsibility to not go back in time and get stuck. One of the most universal human experiences is the feeling of being alone. Life is so unpredictable in a sense it sometimes leaves us lying down on a empty path not knowing where to go. But it’s uplifting to see how it all turns out in the end. When I look back how I was few years ago, I am happy those past experiences made me the person I am right now. My past will always live on within me, changing how I live in the present. Every now and then, I let my mind take a break and ease my heart. Walk out your front door and simply breathe in the cold air. We are destined for so much more and so much more than what we ought to become. To let go and move forward without any streak of fear takes a great deal or courage. We may not see where the road might lead, but we should still embark on that essential journey.