Because for me, it is in those feelings that my fire is stoked. It is in those feelings that I am reminded that even while I pursue my own purpose in life, and create my own happiness, and build my own future, I must not forget how I am connected to the rest of the world. Especially those connections most intangible and distant; but also in those I encounter every day.
However, in all of this I do not want to overshadow all the wonderful things that have happened this year.
As horrific as this year has been on so many levels, I think it has also made me a better person in some ways. I have become more generous and more giving, and have realized that even on my meager grad student budget, donating to causes I believe in has not even marginally affected my resources. And giving something feels a million times better than giving nothing.
This year has reminded me to be more present, both for those around me and for myself. To be present in the moments of joy that make it possible to get through each day, and to be present in times of need, pain, and sadness. To be present in the company of others, and to be present in the silence of aloneness and solitude.
I am growing. My ambitions of filmmaking have begun to come to fruition, and my technical skills in photography and multimedia production have taken shape. I succeeded in fully and independently executing my summer fieldwork in Alaska for my master’s degree — something I never would have imagined I would be capable of just a few years ago. And I have forged new friendships and relationships that have enriched my life in ways I cannot even describe.
My travels this year have taken me all over Central and Western Oregon; through the wilderness of Southeast Alaska; all the way up and down the length of California; up to Mt. Rainier, and finally back to Florida, my original stomping grounds. I have fallen in love with Oregon though; if I don’t end up back in Alaska for a while, I can see myself being quite happy there for some time — a thought that hasn’t crossed my mind for any other place I’ve lived.
Grad school has reminded me how to think critically about the world, to engage with other ways of knowing and being. It has challenged everything I thought I knew, and somehow made me question the things I didn’t know. I feel as if I’m swinging on a perpetual pendulum of adoring the intellectual stimulus of higher education while periodically resenting the psychological havoc it wreaks inside my head. It’s a wonderfully maddening place to be.
I have 6-8 more months in graduate school before I’m spit back out into the world again. Right now that seems like a frighteningly short amount of time to finish my research, but they tell me it’ll all come together somehow. In the meantime, I expect updates to this blog will continue to be slow and sporadic, so bear with me as I get through this. I just started up a Facebook page where I’ll be posting shorter updates, so you can follow me there if you would like to see stuff more often.
And because I always fail at coming up with a good conclusion for my blog posts, I will just leave you here for now and probably update this again before the end of the year. 🙂 ‘Til next time!