Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living
- Miriam Beard
Posted by aberrants
I recently got into a conversation with someone about politics, correction, I recently get into conversations with everyone about politics.
I never go seeking such conversations, but one of the perks of being from the most polarizing country in current existence, is that everyone wants to talk about politics. The effect, more often than not, is an overwhelming sense of being attacked. While I am one to hold strong convictions, I have always taken a not-so-silent pride in trying to not-so-strongly offend the people around me…because after all, its all about the love, right? I nod in agreement, give abundant grunts of affirmation, and play the occasional antagonist, just to keep people going, because I want to know how they tick. I want to know people. I want to know passions and convictions and fears…and every four years, we are given a window into the souls around us as to what drives them every day.
I love politics in America because they are so emotionally charged.
I hate politics in America, because they pit people against each other as if my economic policy makes me a heartless shrew and yours makes you a lazy fool. My social policy puts me right up there with Ghandi and Mother Teresa, but yours deserves to be spit upon. I hate it because, deep down I am a raging pacifist and I do believe it is all about the love.
The problem with cold, hard pacifists is the ever-present enigma of what to say when someone refuses to agree to disagree. When it comes to politics, who are we kidding? Of course there are people in the world who hold different opinions. What has happened, since my ideals have been under siege, is that I get too defensive too quickly, and more often than not, my agreeing to disagree becomes a you against me.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting around a bottle…or three, of wine discussing politics with people who, thank God, agreed with me on some fundamentals. It was like a get out of jail free card when they said that both candidates are weak, that America’s economic and social policies are doomed, and that “American supremacy” is being outsourced about as fast as our jobs. Although I was happy to store my shield and sword for another day, what I heard in the conversation was an overwhelming sense of loss. We struck hard on a resounding gong of defeat and I realized how exactly the “you” in my battle can be characterized. I realized that my defense isn’t about being red or blue, but it is about the hope of a country, the dream that allowed me to leave.
The funny thing about living abroad, is that there are very few catalysts. Either you are running from something, escaping the entrapment of a world bound by geography, or you are running to something, setting yourself free. I was set free. I could never have moved away without the knowledge that my safe little world at home would keep on spinning in such a way that I could jump right back in like a game of jump-rope. What I am realizing now, is that my safe little world was deteriorating even before I left. The hopes that make me who I am; the dream bigger, run faster, work harder, breathe deeper hopes have been eroded slowly. I feel cheated. I feel fooled by hope and I feel the “you” getting bigger every day.
My political views are not deeply rooted because I think Mitt Romney can save America’s economy, or because I think Obama’s social policies can revolutionize the standard of living for all Americans, it is because childhood Erin’s balloon is being shot from the sky. The world I lived in for so many years, and wanted to further build for future generations is slipping no matter how hard I try to save it. I get defensive. I stop muttering affirmations, and start eroding the arguments that are attacking my way of life. I stop caring about the people and start caring about the legislation. I am losing the essence of being me, the part that is all about the love, the passion for connecting people, the love of finding similarities in the furthest margin and opening eyes to the possibility of the love.
We are all so terrifyingly similar.
Regardless of our politics, our culture, no matter how high or how lazy our thought, despite our socioeconomics and skin color and education level and religion and sexual orientation, even if we are running from or running to another world, we are so terrifyingly similar. Please let me get back to me. Please let me rest the shield and sword of political battle indefinitely. Please let me rest and be me and love you and listen to you and feel like you are not you and I am not me, but we can be we again.
For there are many bigger and better battles to be won.
Posted by aberrants
Well, the good news is that most of you who were admirably following my blog upon arrival in grand ole’ Deutschland have moved on, and are probably following the Kardashians by now.
Anyways, I’ve taken a hiatus that I thought was for the purpose of finding better things to do with my time, but then I found my writing complimented by a complete stranger…an act that was simple in nature, but was enough to get me back on my feet. Enough about me though, I have been seeing places in the meanwhile, so I am going to start to try and play catch-up.
First up, Metz:
This enchanting town is an easy day trip from my University in Saarbrucken, and the first weekend I moved there, Bene and I thought it fitting to wine and dine in France. I expected to be pushed around by people I couldn’t understand, pay too much for wine, and fight for a table at a cafe. Instead the weather was phenomenal and we made it into the square in time to catch the remnants of a marathon, and the festivities that accompanied it. We bought a baguette, a block of the stinkiest cheese I have ever smelled, and the a bottle of the finest cheap wine to join us for an afternoon in the park. We listened to Coeur de Pirate and felt the grass between our toes. For me, it was perfect. It made the craziness of my week-long transition back to Europe, and back to being a student seem sane somehow. It gave me time to watch the pieces of my life fall into place and to enjoy their decent.
Life is a crazy menagerie - or maybe a menage a trois of experiences and our reactions to those things we deem uncontrollable. Yet here I am, in the heart of Europe being swept away by the same beauty and decadence that has seen the rise and fall of many monarchies. Oh the places we’ll go!
Posted by aberrants
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about peace and the elusive attitude it seems to be showing me lately. It seems as though peace has a certain commonality with time, laughter, and the overall essence of youth: you fail to notice them, until they are gone.
I was trying to think of of a time I have felt utterly at peace - the kind you read about, or hear people talk about, but cannot fathom until you meet eyes and get lost within it - the rarest kind of peace, when I stumbled on a memory:
It was an early morning in the African desert. We had hiked 11 miles the previous day in the exhaustive sun, stayed up late playing cards, and yet, for some reason, my body felt compelled to wake around 6 am before the sun rose. I reluctantly yielded to the morning and hiked to the top of the nearest dune to welcome the day. The hike was surprisingly difficult as I lifted each lead leg through the soft sand, and barely reached the top before the sun peaked over the horizon. I sat down without my camera, my journal, my busyness. It was silent. No one stirred. The wind was calm, and the earth seemed to still be resting. As I watched, the sun rose orange over the mountains in the far distance, instantly robbing the dawn of its refreshing cool, with its warm rays piercing the darkness. It was silent. Each moment, I felt the vulnerability of being seen. There was no bustle, noise, or supposition to hide behind. There was only me and the blinding light of an unhindered sun. Somehow I began to settle into my vulnerability, giving God a chance to use it, giving myself a chance to embrace it. In that moment I found peace. It was the unaltered, still presence of being.
I could change nothing in my life at that moment, I was powerless, and resigned to my weakened sense of self.
I was powerful, the most powerful being I had ever known as I rose to greet the day and simultaneously conquer it before anyone knew.
It wasn’t the pride or humility of that moment that brought me peace though, it was the balance in it all. We are the weakest and most powerful beings ever to be created. We have the capacity to learn to grown, and most importantly to love. With that comes the responsibility to avoid stagnation and fear…and that is where I have been lately. Stagnant, fearful, and out of balance.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Be seen. Be still.
Posted by aberrants
The famous river that twists and curls through the city of Munich, hugging the buildings, and finally spreading her fingers throughout the English Garden: The Eisbach.
Appropriately named after its frigid waters and babbling brook feel, the Eisbach has been the holy grail of sorts as we wait for the summer sun to warm the air just enough to venture into her icy liquid form. The weather beckoned us this week, with days of consistent heat and sunshine to finally breach our silent fear of this river’s rushing waters.
Home of the famous surfing spot, we dipped in right after the waves to tumble breathlessly downstream until we hit the rapids. Braving the white water belly-up, then frantically heading to the shore before a fallen tree, we felt as though we had been to a theme park, a jungle, and a city sanctuary all at one time. The cold waters shed from our bodies as we tramped back to our sunny spot on the river shore, perfectly set across the water from the free-spirited elderly of Munich that feel uninspired to wear any of their clothes while sunbathing!
Posted by aberrants
Too much ice cream…IMPOSSIBLE.
Something about being ill makes you want to crawl into bed and have mom deliver sprite, chicken noodle soup, and ice cream between my favorite episodes of Gilmore girls. Unfortunately, this time, it meant watching NCIS online until my 72 min/day allowance was up, only to then pull out my copy of Finding Nemo and let it start playing in between sips of Czech tea and hot showers. Oh, tonsillitis, how I loathe you.
Luckily, one of the loveliest doctors lives right down the street and promised to cure me right away. After a healthy dose of Antibiotics, and a lecture on going to doctors before you are on death’s doorstep, I am on my way to healthy…but I never would have made it without a daily dose (or two) of ice cream and, of course, the obligatory good book.
…still miss you mom.
Posted by aberrants
I want I want I want. I need I need I need. So often lately, my mind has been filled with these reverberations, harldy giving heed to concise thoughts or desires. Sure, there are a lot of things in life we want, things we need, and things that we want so badly that we convince ourselves we need them. My lines are blurred. I feel trapped on a cyclical path of needs and wants, justified by the belief that I have so few of them. I am a simple person. I don’t need much. I want less. Somehow, lately, the less I have, the more I feel like I need. It is a paradigm shift that I cannot decipher.
The truth is, I have everything I need. I have a roof over my head, I have a family and a boy who love me. I have my health, and my regular hours of sleep. I have summer approaching and feet to run through the grass when it arrives. I have great friends, here and there and everywhere, and I feel so very peaceful about all of these haves in my life…but damn that Maslow…the tip of the pyramid is missing for one of the first times, and I feel like without that crown of self-achievement, the preverbial self’s hand patting my back, and the prospect of maintaining my perfectly balanced base, I am at a topsy-turvy time in my life. One where all my haves seem to point a bleak spotlight on my have-nots, and my adventure doing the same to my unknown.
I guess that preverbial hand will just have to create the preverbial to do list:
…all in a days work.
Posted by aberrants
Budapest. A city of over 3 million, Budapest captures the essence of Eastern Europe while telling a captivating story of success and devastation. After each World War, Budapest tried to rebuild a country from the bits and pieces left behind.
The architecture is stunning, the layout of the city is fascinating. Buda is situated on the West bank of the Danube with rolling hills, stunning castles, and remnants of ancient opulence everywhere you look. Mixed in, somehow, is decay, dirt, and an oppressive presence of a history with a hefty price paid.
On the Eastern side of the city, lies the world’s third largest Parliament building, second largest Synagogue, and East Europe’s finest shopping streets. Unfortunately, what we Americans think when dwelling on the glamour of European style only refers to Western Europe. Some of the most fascinating outfits were too quick, too shimmery, or too shameful to record on film, but these bridesmaids dresses took the cake!
Overall, Hungary was like entering another world despite the brief and possibly illegal border-crossings and interactions. The language is indiscernable to my American ears, the currency conversion left my mind drowning in thousands of Forint (the local currency), and the people, while kind, were strangely distant as our motley crew wandered the streets.
-Eat Langos as often as your heart will allow
-Never pick up a taxi on the street, call a company
-Always travel with people you enjoy…and can take a good group photo!