Thursday, September 27, 2012

In which I can't find my backpack

Today when my yoga class was finished, I went to grab my backpack. I had set it along the wall next to my Chacos, and figured that a Study Abroad backpack covered in buttons with various inspirational sayings would be fairly easy to find. I was wrong. It took me a good 30 seconds to find my stuff because, I kid you not, every backpack in that room was a Study Abroad backpack covered in inspirational buttons and every one of those backpacks had a pair of Chacos next to them.

Okay...I might be exaggerating the littlest bit. But...still.

For a minute there, I felt this strange surge of pride. I'm finally one of those people. One of those people who studies abroad and rock climbs and listens to weird indie music and hikes and takes yoga classes. One of those people I used to dream about becoming back when I was a wide-eyed freshman.

And then I felt a little bit self-conscious. If my yoga class is any indication, pseudo-granolas are a dime a dozen here at BYU. Why on earth did I idolize them so much when I was a freshman? They're just normal people. If I can be one, anyone can, yeah?

This led me to thinking, what good are the labels we give ourselves and others? Why was it so important to me to be one of "those people," and is that okay? I think felt uncomfortable at first because I was conceptualizing my goal (becoming a granola/hippie/whatever) with solely outward indicators (shoes, music choices, outdoor activities, tie-dye clothes). And that feels shallow to me. It feels wrong to measure my personal development by what I wear or listen to or do on the weekends.

And so today, I've been re-examining that dream of mine. And I think all of these external trappings were just the embodiment of a collection of character traits I wanted to develop. Among these personal traits were open-mindedness, physical fitness, serenity, connection with nature, mindfulness, adventurousness, boldness, joy, tranquility, compassion, and kindness. And the tangible objects that best fit my image of somebody who had developed these traits happened to include Chacos and rock climbing gear and Iron and Wine CDs and a passport full of stamps.

So, am I really of "those people" now? Depends. On the shallow, outward level...maybe, though I haven't gone hiking in over a month, I'm really not that good at yoga, and I listen to a lot more Ke$ha than I care to admit publicly. And on the deeper, more abstract level...definitely not. I've made great strides, to be sure. I consider myself far more adventurous, bold, calm, and open-minded than I was 4 years ago. However, I still have miles to go in terms of optimism, compassion, and kindness. And, sadly, all the tie-dye shirts and climbing shoes in the world won't get me one step closer to that goal. That is going to take real effort, introspection and time.

It seems a little silly that a simple event like not being able to find my backpack has thrown me into this kind of introspection, but I think it's valuable. I often run the risk of measuring my (and other's) personal worth by silly, shallow criteria. I probably needed this jolt to remind me that yes, I've got the shoes, the music, and the hobbies, but that doesn't mean I've got it made. And that the people I meet who like different music than me or who choose different ways to spend their weekends, may be way far ahead of me in terms of developing their inner selves. And while outward indicators can seem to indicate a person's personality and values, they are rarely reliable and never sufficient.

Monday, September 17, 2012

In which I think I've found my teaching philosophy

"But the humanist, revolutionary educator cannot wait for this possibility to materialize. From the outset, her efforts must coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. His efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in their relations with them."

-Paulo Freire.

Yes. Yes, yes, a thousand, a million times yes. I wish I could somehow drive home to each of you how much this resonates with me, how..crucial it is to the way I view education. This is why I want to be a teacher. Because I want to be this kind of teacher. Because I think that's the way I can make a difference. Because it's important.

In which we keep on rockin' till the early morning

"Be who you are, nothing more, nothing less
And let the beauty that you love be the very best.
Sing praises to the Highest with your feet on the ground
And reach your brother with the words that you sound.

And don't let mistakes be so monumental
And don't let your love be so confidential
And don't let your mind be so darn judgmental
And please let your heart be more influential."

-Michael Franti

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In which Hamlet would be wayyy cooler with laser eyes.

You know, sometimes I think to myself, "Self, you know what this world needs more of? Shakespearean fanfiction!"

Actually, I don't think that's a thought I've ever had in my life. But if it was, this little beauty would probably be the product of it. I present to you:

Hamlet the Awesome and Kinda Scary Robot
by the venerable Riss

Hamlet was walking along being angsty. And then all of a sudden he was a robot. A robot whose father was dead. Also, he could shoot lasers out of his eyes.

He had a hot girlfriend named Ophelia. Ophelia was an alien. With 5 arms. They had sexy times.

And then she killed herself

And then everyone else died.


Yeah...I wrote that. In a fit of madness a few days ago. And I couldn't be prouder.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In which I find comfort in gossamer soap

Those days happen...those days where a cement boot is slowly but steadily...very, very steadily..pressing on your chest.

Those days where you see yourself turning into your nastiest self, attacking those who aren't present to defend themselves, and just being all around snarky.

The days where getting off of the couch sounds too hard...and doing your homework sounds too hard...and staying awake sounds too hard...

And talking doesn't help.

And sleeping barely helps.

And ultimate frisbee only helps a little.

So those are the days when you sit on the floor with a bottle of Miracle Bubbles and watch the fragile orbs float, burst, and vanish.

And that helps.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In which I find I think best on my feet

Often when I go running, not much running actually gets done.

It all started when I lived in Vienna. I discovered quickly that if I went on my run through the city, I ended up stopping every few minutes to look at a beautiful piece of molding on a facade, or a group of workers setting up a giant tent for a traveling theatre company, or sign saying that Mozart once spent the night in this or that building (between Mozart and Beethoven, I think just about every building in town has been historicized in that manner). So, I decided that if I ever wanted to get any actual running done, I would need to stick to the canal road by my apartment. No fancy buildings to look at, no distractions. Right?


Because, as it turns out, the Danube Canal is a hub for graffiti artists. Not just punks with spray paint cans, but actual artists. In fact, the canal wall is one of the only places in Vienna where graffiti is actually legal. So I got to run by stuff like this every day.


Needless to say, I spent more time strolling and gazing than I did running. (I also improved my German quite a bit...turns out the Anarchistic movement has a pretty large following in downtown Vienna and they often painted slogans all over the canal walls. It was pretty entertaining trying to decipher them).

So you'd think that once I got back in boring ol' Provo, it would be easier to focus while running.

Wrong again.

Because it turns out, Provo's a pretty interesting place in its own right. Yesterday  was running, and I found myself constantly having to stop to look at the interesting roof of one house, the beautiful picket fence covered in hollyhocks on another, the cardboard Dalek on one front lawn...

And then my mind itself won't stay still for more than a second. Turns out when I'm running, I do some of my best thinking. I don't have anything else I need to think about, so the ideas just drift into my brain though. The only problem is, I can't hold onto those thoughts while running because I get so distracted by the rhythm of my feet, or my breathing, or the muscles in my legs contracting and expanding. So once my brain catches hold of a cool thought, I have to slow down to a walk in order to keep it, and I can't start running again until I've thought it through.

All in all, this means that I don't get a whole lot of actually running done on my runs. But that's not usually the point anyway.