Well after a much needed winter break I am back into the blogging routine. Although my time back home was significantly shorted due to my need to complete a J-term course, I had an excellent break. While at home I was able to spend ample time with family and had a couple fun nights out at the bars with old friends from High School. On top of that, I watched the first three seasons of the HBO series Weeds, which is a great show that I recommend to all of you. Netflix has begun to consume too much of my time. I’ve always been a huge movie buff and now I have the ability to stream Netfilx through my PS3. Hundreds of TV shows and movies at my fingertips…life is good. Despite having to say early good byes to family and friends I have no regrets in my decision to take a J-term course. Actually I shouldn’t use the word choice because I didn’t really have much of one in the matter. In order to graduate on time with all of my required credits, for my Biology major and minors in Business Administration and Chemistry, it was imperative I take Western Ideologies in the winter. The beauty of it all was that not only did it satisfy both GS 10 and 12 credits; it also was an interesting, thought provoking, and rewarding course. Sure, when you have a full course crammed into 3 weeks you can expect a rigorous workload, and that is exactly what I got. Three hours of class everyday and between 4-5 hours each night put into reading and studying. But overall I felt I learned a lot and even though final grades are not posted I’m about 98% sure I’ll receive an A so no complaints from this guy.
As for now…I cannot even begin to comprehend the fact that this past Monday was my last first day of school. I remember the days when my parents used to take a ‘first day of school’ picture of my sister and I on our front door step before we left for our first day of school. As I begin the home stretch in my college career it’s memories such as those that make me wish I were a child again with no worries, responsibilities, or real grasp of the world. Life was merely a game, enjoyable, and carefree. With graduation a mere few months away I would have to say I’m on the fence emotionally. Half is ready to go out and actually begin earning an income rather than living on PB & J and $2 frozen pizzas or getting overly excited when finding a quarter on the ground. The other side comprehends what I’ll be leaving behind and it’s that aspect that strikes a cord of sadness. I’ve had an amazing four years at this institution and it has developed me into the confident individual I am today. Friends have been made, knowledge has been absorbed, particular nights have been forgotten or are a slight blur, and life experiences have been learned. I will miss the life style associated with college; the laughs with friends, spontaneous weekends, Fifa and movie nights with the housemates, garage sessions with the vinyl records, and wings at the Naw, but I guess you have to move on sometime. I will grantee you this though; although I will graduate from college in May and ‘move on,’ I have no plans in growing up. I strongly believe in the idea that ‘men don’t ever mature, they merely learn how to act in public.’ With that, I look forward to pouring my heart and soul into these last blog entries as I attempt to squeeze and cherish every last moment of my college career. I hope you are all excited for this semester and I wish you the best of luck in your classes and various endeavors.
Stay Classy St. Norbert!
As the year comes to a close I can’t say I have many complaints or regrets. It is astounding to me that only a semester remains in my college career. Come May I will have completed my formal education, unless graduate school arises sometime in my future (when a company I work with is willing to fund such an endeavor). St. Norbert College has proven to be a monumental aspect of my life. It’s provided the opportunity to not only expand my technical knowledge and put me into a prime position for my career path but it’s shaped and matured me into the man I am today. As they say, college isn’t all about what you learn in the classroom but rather all the experiences associated with the territory and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Being ten hours away from home and only returning for majority holidays and the summer following my freshman year I’ve learned the art of independence and the ability to fend for myself. I’ve fallen in love, created life long friendships, learned how to do laundry and fix meals, developed study and time management habits, and have become a better well rounded human being.
Graduation will be bittersweet. While I will miss the lifestyle accompanying college the thought of the real world, pursuing my dream career, and earning a solid income intrigues me. I will not miss lectures and exams but will miss expanding my knowledge of interesting subjects and hitting the bars on Friday & Saturday nights with the boys knowing I can sleep in until eleven and then watch a few hours of college football to cure the hangover. The career I wish to pursue, Medical Device Sales, can provide me the opportunity to complete numerous bullet points on my Dream Pad that I shared with you a few entries ago. Thus, the idea of leaving college, obtaining success in my career, and earning an income associated with my work ethic, excites and motivates me.
While the last few weeks of the semester were hell it feels outstanding to now be at home with the family celebrating the holidays. I don’t think I could have made it through the last two weeks of the semester without Andy Kollath and Nick Anderson. Nick shared all four classes with me and Andy shared our two most rigorous, Biology of Cancer Cell and Biochemistry. So saying we saw a lot of each other would have been an understatement. We pushed one another through countless hours of studying and it was the laughs, jokes, and slap-happy humor in the wee hours of the morning on lack of sleep that kept us sane and supplied us with the energy to give everything we had to do well on our final exams.
I will be returning back to SNC on January 2nd because I am taking Western Ideologies as a J-term course in order to complete all my required credits and graduate in May. I look forward to it as most of my friends are also taking a J-term including all the guys in my house. Plus I got Fifa 11 and 3 more controllers from Santa so all 5 of the guys in my house can now play at the same time, thus I am sure we will have some epic battles.
As I sign off for my last blog of 2010 I wish you all a Happy New Year, a joyful holiday season with family and friends, and will continue to blog throughout 2011 as I complete the final chapter of my college career.
Stay Classy St. Norbert!
Hello there blogging world, sorry for the week off, I am sure you all realized and missed me. I have a surprise! Rather than attempting to dive into a deep philosophical question or bore you with a spiritual paper in regards to finding God I figured I’d keep it real and simply recap the week. Figured this would give you all a chance to rest your minds since I’ve been implanting such thought provoking ideas (that was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it).
Last week was a prime example of my life motto; work hard, play hard. My week consisted of three exams (Tues-Biology of Cancer Cell, Thurs-Corporate Finance, Fri-Biochemistry), a lab proposal due Wednesday, and both a 6 page paper and Thesis Statements due on Friday. So to say the least it was an exhausting week for my mind and body. Each day literally consisted of waking at 8am, attending classes, partaking in my various extra curricular events, a quick work out to clear my head, studying till 1 am, and then waking up the following day to repeat. The only alteration occurred on Thursday-Friday when I stayed up until 3am to get a better grasp on the Biochem material. But somehow I made it through the week, finished it all, and feel quite confident in regards to my exam performance. Then, once that Biochem exam had finished up on Friday afternoon, I hit the weekend ready to play hard.
And that is exactly what I did! After the exam my buddy Dan and I drove to St. Vincent’s in search of attire for the 90’s dance we were attending that evening. And boy did we succeed! For a measly 7 bucks I got a multi-colored wind suit (both jacket and pants), sunglasses, an old retro Olympic baseball hat, an under shirt to match the wind suit, and a fanny pack, boy what a steal. I felt guilty walking out of the store but was totally pumped to put it all on. Dan and I then headed down the road to Margarita’s to partake in their Happy Hour that was just beginning. I will have you note that we are both of legal drinking age and thus each enjoyed two Mercedes margarita’s, absolutely delicious. Since each margarita had 6 shots of patron we made the responsible decision and called a buddy to come pick us up. Once home Dan and I quickly dressed into our matching apparel, grabbed our razor scooters, and proceeded to scooter down to the Abbey Bar. After enjoying a pitcher and a bowl of popcorn we scootered back and got onto the bus to go to the Kappa’s 90’s Dance. My girlfriend and Dan’s girlfriend each dressed as girls from the T-show ‘Clueless’ and the 4 of us had a blast at the dance.
This all occurred on Friday evening and on Saturday Ale (my girlfriend) and I drove down with a group of friends to Milwaukee for a Pretty Lights concert at the Rave. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience and words cannot begin to describe the atmosphere during the concert. It was as if everyone there was oblivious to the hundreds of people surrounding them and were rather in their own world with no regards to anything but the music and light show. Refreshing would be a good term since it cleansed my soul. Allowing the music to enter your ears, be recognized by the brain, but then be transformed into bodily movements unparallel to typical dancing. No thought went into it. More as if the music was acting as a puppeteer and I was attached to hundreds of invisible strings.
Although it was a week of hell I celebrated in equal fashion and had a phenomenally refreshing weekend. The other beautiful aspect of having such a week of misery is that usually the following week is pretty laid back. This is exactly the case for me, plus we have Wednesday off for advisement. Thus, the plan for the week is to rest the body, to avoid any of the illness going around, and spend some time researching opportunities for after graduation. But until next time…
Stay Classy St. Norbert
Due to the length of my previous entry my intention here is not to consume any more of your time but rather persuade you to consider a simple topic. An action that if I am able to persuade even one of you to go out and follow suit I will ecstatic. Thus, this entry will quickly describe my experience in hopes to enlighten and drive you to do the similar.
Last year, around this time, I sat through a presentation on the Big Brother’s Big Sister’s program. Going into the presentation I had no real understanding or knowledge of what it was all about and was attending merely to satisfy a credit for my service hours while living in Michels Hall. With the completion of the presentation I was deeply moved and felt an internal drive to take part in such an effort. I’ve been blessed with an incredible childhood and up bringing and concluded it was only fair to give back to someone less fortunate. Thus, I took the information packet, applied, interviewed, was matched up with a little 7 year old named Connor, and a life changing relationship began.
Due to my hectic schedule and heavy class load I chose to take part in the site-based system. Through this particular section of the organization I go to Connor’s after school program on Tuesday’s from 4-5pm and we do various activities. He’s a huge sport fanatic and cut throat competitor, just like myself, so we take part in football, soccer, and kickball games a majority of the time. Other days we will play board games or build Lego’s, and last week we carved pumpkins for the Halloween season. It doesn’t matter what we do, we are always smiling, laughing, and having a terrific time. It isn’t difficult to see we have something special if you observe the two of us together. As I walk in the door I instantly hear “NATE” being yelled from across the room as I see him sprinting toward me. Instead of slowing down as he approaches he merely builds up speed through the momentum of the run and leaps off the ground once close enough with the trust that I will catch him in my arms. Thankfully he weights no more than 60 lbs and I always catch him, spin him around once, flip him upside down and casually carry him a few steps with his shaggy blonde hair swaying inches from the ground. His radiant glow of excitement beaming from his eyes soothes my heart and is an antidote for any issues currently occupying my life. Put simply, he is a breath of fresh air week in and week out, never loosing energy, or lacking a smile on his face. I can see significant growth over the past year in both of us. He has learned to be more polite, how to share, appreciate others, and developed a deeper sense of maturity. I, on the other hand, have gained a new pure free spirit. He has shown me how to let loose, enjoy life, not worry about getting grass stains on my clothes, and how to live everyday in the moment with a Cheshire cat like smile and a joyful heart.
I share this story with you because it isn’t difficult to set aside an hour once a week to make a tremendous difference not only in the life of a child but also to develop a purer spirit within yourself. Most of the time all these kids need is a role model, someone to look up to and enjoy their companionship. It isn’t difficult, time consuming, or annoying but rather a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of society and remember what it’s like to run, laugh, smile, and view the world through the eyes of a care free, innocent child.
Please take a couple minutes to check out the site (http://www.bbbsnew.org/)
If interested feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com
Make a difference in the life of a child as well as your own!
Stay Classy St. Norbert
Another lengthy entry, sorry sis, but one that I felt may be of interest. Since St. Norbert College is indeed a Catholic institute I see a recent essay I wrote as extremely relevant to the intention of this blog. The essay for my Theology of Spirituality course depicts my first accountable experience with ‘God.’ Many of you may have cringed or thought to cease reading with this notation but no matter what your religious bias, give this entry a chance. Let the words seep into your brain to be digested by the soul. This is quite personal but isn’t that what a blog is all about? Enjoy!
I Will Never Be Alone
Experiencing the presence of God isn’t something occurring on a daily basis. Or is it? When one imagines ‘experiencing’ God the burning bush and Moses or the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus are often first to mind. But what qualifies an experience with God? Must a conversation take place in order to count? Would whispers within the breeze constitute as legitimate? All to often I hear people complaining; “I pray to God all the time but he never answers or responds to my calling.” They expect thunder and lightening from the heavens and for God to appear next to them at their bedside to mediate their issues. Thus, they are so busy complaining they neglect to pay attention to all the little clues God has placed throughout our daily lives. An experience with God does not have to be verbally or visually stimulated but rather can occur while walking to class or taking a shower. It need not be externally dramatic but rather one, which opens the soul and humbles the spirit.
The biggest component in recognizing an experience with God is having the ability to be patient and being aware of the surroundings. I am sure God has given me plenty of chances to share in a relationship with him throughout my life but until this semester I’ve been too egocentric and self absorbed to observe any of his clues. I find a lot of truth in the idea that in order to find God one must be willing to look. He is a part of us wishing to be discovered. Growing up I merely went through the motions of the Christian lifestyles because it made my parents and family happy. I didn’t really understand or have a passionate drive but figured it was the norm to live a healthy happy life. Then I enrolled in this class because I had to fulfill my upper religious studies and it was the only course, which fit my schedule. I’ll be honest I wasn’t looking forward it. But the real turning point was the structure and comments of the first lecture as well as the readings that I began to embark on. The world opened for me. I was informed a relationship with God could be formulated even if the structure of a typical Episcopal service wasn’t my cup of tea. God still loved me for who I was. This was ground breaking for me and I took the idea and ran with it. Made the most of my readings, thesis statements, and gained patience as well as the ability to be aware of all the beauties surrounding me everyday. Then, within a few weeks, I had my first memorable experience with God.
I had decided I would attempt praying in the shower. Seemed a bit silly to me but I really wanted to get into the swing of praying on a consistent schedule. I had been doing all this reading and with each chapter feeling not only closer to God but also to myself. But I knew reading wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be. Although I was a bit nervous to approach God it was something I knew I needed to do. Up until this point in my life I had prayed during four occasions; generic pray before bed when I was a kid, grace prior to meals, reading from the hymnal during church service, or the rare personal prayer when I was in desperate need and had no where else to turn. I wanted to change. I wanted to be able to approach God not out of requirement or pain but instead on a daily basis, to be able to thank him for his blessings. Thus, I undressed, turned the dial so the water exiting the spout was hot but not too much to handle, and stepped in allowing the water to warm my body. Then I began to pray. It amazed me how simply everything flowed orally as if someone else shared the bathroom with me. I described my situation, why I hadn’t been praying, how the class had opened my eyes, and the desire to have a relationship with him. While doing so an overwhelming comfort engulfed me. Pure joy coursed through my veins as I began to feel tears put pressure on my retinas. Closing my eyes caused my body to lose grip with reality and I felt as if gravity decided to take a lunch break. My stomach tingled as if I had just finished a conversation with the prettiest girl in school while my heart raced to a techno beat. God didn’t speak with words or sounds but rather embraced my soul and left me with a feeling of complete and utter bliss.
If someone had seen the look on my face when I exited the bathroom they wouldn’t have known what to think. The experience had an overwhelming effect on me. I felt as if it was my own personal confirmation/baptism and God was the one doing the anointing. God’s way of saying “I am indeed a part of you and if it is a relationship you seek, it is a relationship you shall receive.” This shower meant the world to me. I had always been such a narrow-minded skeptic and being educated with a Biology background did not help the situation. From this experience forward I have been praying in the shower on a daily basis and although it doesn’t always result in a bone numbing experience I know God is indeed listening. Usually it is merely an explanation of what I’m feeling and a prayer to watch over my family and friends because there isn’t much more in my life I could desire at the present moment. I recognize how extraordinary blessed I am and merely am asking God to help me with kindness, patience, awareness, and to direct me in his ways.
From this experience I was able to disprove a number of stereotypes in which I had formulated in my head in regards to the image of God. Growing up I always imaged him sitting upon a throne at the gate of heaven judging the worthiness of those wishing entry. I’d been raised to believe in order to obtain God’s love one must strictly follow his commandments, attend mass every week, pray daily, and never sin. Essentially I was brought up with the idea that you have to be a perfect human being to be loved and accepted by God. Thus, by the time I became a teenager I realized that wasn’t the way I wished to live my life. I wanted to be independent, be myself, and not worry about being judged by some all power being. Why live in fear of someone I am not even sure exists? As pathetic as that sounds now this was my mentality. I was a young, immature, and stubborn kid who was frustrated with the ideals implemented in his church and how people told him how to live his life. After this baptismal shower I felt anew. My image of God shifted dramatically. All previous sterotypes were abolished and a new version of God shone through. God lives within us as well as all around us. He lives in the friendships we generate as well as the enemies that accumulate. He feels are pain as well as our joy. He is the sunrise while at the same time the mountain ranges. He doesn’t judge but rather gives an opportunity for redemption and forgiveness. He is kind and desires an intimate relationship with all who seek the similar.
I never expected to develop such an intimate relationship with God at this point in my life. Although I was a frustrated and confused teenager I always envisioned falling back into the church routine when I settled down with a family in order to raise my children within the walls of the church as I had been. But being where I am now provides me with a very optimistic future. These next few years are going to be some of the toughest of my life. Graduating college, finding and beginning a professional career, starting a family, and everything else that comes with the territory. My character and values will be tested as I embark on a new lifestyle. But, it is extremely comforting to have such an ever-growing relationship with God, with the knowledge that from now on I will never be alone.
It is now, upon this entry, when time is present, and the wind breathes in, that I will share with you a part of me. Something which few know I possess, but knowledge in which I wish to extend. Not only do I desire to open up and display some of my deepest passions, I hope you will approach this as an example to imitate in your own life.
Have you ever had a dream? Not the kind occurring while sound asleep in bed, but rather the kind occupying your brain waves randomly throughout the day. Some shared with peers while others kept internal to light the fire within. Pulling you out of bed in the morning and catching you while falling. I call it my ‘Dream Pad’ and it is kept very close to me, as a MemoPad on my Blackberry. Maybe a small private journal able to be hidden within the contents of your nightstand would be your preferred location. I chose my phone because I often find myself, randomly caught in a state of bliss and desire. To me being able to instantly pull out my phone and add the thought to my list is extremely convenient.
Now I will share with you my list. After viewing my list I challenge you to take the time to make one of your own, in any form you wish. Simply the act of creating the list will center you, re energize your inner fire, and provide a physical representation of what you wish to squeeze out of life. Enjoy…
Title: Dream Pad
-Attend National Championship football game when U of M is in it
-Gondola-ride in Venice with my dream girl
-Attend a Manchester United game @ Old Trafford
-Finish school debt free
-Attend the Masters & U.S Open
-Get married to the woman of my dreams & love of my life
-Run a marathon
-Become a father
-Have a home away from home either on a remote beach/island or out in the middle of a mountain valley, nothing within miles…or both
-Graduate SNC on Dean’s List with above a 3.5 G.P.A
-Learn to play the piano well
-Own a Volkswagen van
-Get Pilot’s License and Solo Fly a plane
-Take a romantic sailing vacation with my lady
-Experience Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
-Become fluent in Spanish
-Get a hole in one
-Attend the Olympics
-Attend the World Cup
-Experience Zero Gravity
-Own a pet monkey when I retire
-Read the Bible cover to cover
-Create a bedroom like in the movie ‘Leaves of Grass’
-And a few ‘wants’ extracted from a reflection exercise performed in Theology of Spirituality: I want…
-I want true friendships
-I want to stay/be in excellent shape and healthy
-I want to have a relationship with God and truly believe
-I want to wake up every morning with excitement about they day
-I want to live life to the fullest and die with no regrets
So my list may seem like a typical bucket list. Your right that is exactly what it is. But it is also inspiration. A reminder of how beautiful life can be. Repetition week in and week out disrupts dreams of what could be. Narrow mindedness disallows any outside the box thinking and resorts to the old ‘let’s be realistic’ approach. Sure, maybe I won’t check all those things off in my lifetime but that isn’t going to stop me from trying. I’d rather make a list and complete a third of it than never dream at all and miss out on life.
Stay Classy St. Norbert
What does one blog about when it seems as if there is nothing to say or share? Does he illustrate his daily timeline only to bore the readers with his extended explanation over the pizza he consumed from Ed’s? Or does he revert to his typical philosophical jargon, which is known to raise a few eyebrows? It isn’t easy to randomly write about your life on a weekly basis. Fear of loosing your reader’s interest keeps one on their toes with heightened awareness. The pressure to produce causes anxiety with desire for the stellar ‘light bulb moment’ to be pulled on cue. This last entry, a truly sincere shout out to all my good friends out there, was indeed sparked by a personal experience. But since then nothing completely mind blowing has stunned my senses. It’s a typical life behind the eyes of Nate Wine. A Corporate Finance exam on Thursday is consuming any study periods while the fear of the second Biochemistry exam this coming Monday has silenced any elaborate energy. Although the changing of the autumn leaves is internally refreshing, the idea of getting out of a shower in a house neglecting to acknowledge the heat is a frightening thought. The realization that I’ll be entering the real world come May doesn’t seem plausible. As I believe I’ve said before “Men don’t ever mature, they merely learn how to act in public.” Guilty! Sure, there is a time to work…just make sure to leave time for play. Work hard play hard. It took me a while to learn this one. I was what many would call a ‘straightedge’ throughout my high school career. Too focused on the books, excelling on the soccer field, and being uber competitive, resulted in missing out on a lot of the beauties in life. Life at SNC has opened many of these new experiences to me. Numbing down my cutthroat competitiveness and introducing me to the idea of simply playing for ‘fun.’ Never really learned or knew how to do that before. Rowing on the crew time opened my eyes to the beauty of the sun rise over the river as the first rays of light skip across the ripples from the end of our oars. Or the blanket of silence that encapsulates us as the darkness falls and the birds regress, but the crickets have yet to begin their nightly gig. I could continue but instead wish to keep your attention and impose an inception within you. To comment on my Facebook and challenge me with a topic you wish for me to discuss. You could turn the next entry into an advice column or request my opinion on the story of creation. The floor is yours, to anyone who seeks the truth or has questions. You will be left with this for now:
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”-E. B. White
Stay Classy St. Norbert
“When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”
Throughout our lives we often find ourselves ignoring the vast blessings surrounding us and instead focus our attention to the few misfortunes we face. It isn’t until we witness such misfortunes in the lives of others that we begin to realize our own blessings and gain deeper gratitude. As bad as that may sound I am sure we can all agree it is the truth. I learned a lot about life this weekend, the value of true friendship, and how truly blessed I am.
This past weekend, my girlfriend Ale and I went down to Madison to celebrate her friend Kristen’s 21st birthday. Being a junior Kristen only had a few friends who were able to accompany her on her first legal bar entry as the clock struck midnight. The previous evening she even agreed to be their designated driver in exchange for their presence and celebration on her special day. She returned from work the next day to find an empty house. All her friends had driven home to recover from the previous night, leaving Kristen to celebrate her 21st birthday alone. Who does that? What kind of person promises to celebrate their friend’s birthday and then while they are off at work, drives home? I mean I know my dad always jokingly says ‘girls are just meaner,’ but never before had I witnessed such cruelty. The 21st birthday is the hallmark of birthdays, friends are expected to be there for one another and share in the festivities. It made me sick to my stomach on Kristen’s behalf but also highlighted how extremely lucky I am to have the group of friends that I do. On my 21st birthday, granted that it was at the end of April and all my friends were already 21, but nonetheless, all my friends came out with me to celebrate. Shots were purchased, dance moves were thrown down, and assistance on the walk home was provided. Thus, I want to use this as a shout out to all my friends out there, you know who are, and I thank you! You’ve all been there for me when I need a hand, a laugh, or a cry and for that I am eternally thankful. Men of 602 and 819 4th street, those who participate in vinyl garage sessions, Biochemistry lab group, Port Huron’s white tee and uno-bounce studs, my TKE brothers, and everyone in between, thank you for all you’ve given me, and your continued support, you have no idea how blessed I am to have you all in my life. I don’t know what I would do without you.
The emphasize of this entry is to be on giving a huge round of applause and bear hug to all my friends out there! I apologize if I ever have taken any of you for granted and simply want you to know the importance you play in my life. No matter if it’s enjoying a slip-n-slide with a few brews, playing FIFA in my room, listening to MJ & The Beatles on vinyl, or having dance offs at TKE dances and at Babas I will always cherish the time I share with each of you. You’ve provided me with an unforgettable college experience which I will hold forever in my heart. Not only do I wish to thank all of my friends, I also hope after reading this you will have a deeper gratitude for your own friendships. Then, the next time you see them, greet them with a warm welcoming hug and simply say “thank you.”
“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
- John Lennon
Stay Classy St. Norbert
“Most of us spend so much time thinking about where we have been or where we are supposed to be going that we have a hard time recognizing where we actually are.” As I read this line from An Altar in the World, by Barbara Taylor I instantly put down the book, pulled out the computer, and begin typing these words. It isn’t as though I always randomly ‘know’ what to write about in these entries, instead the inspiration comes through daily experiences. With that, as soon as I read this line I knew it would be the topic of discussion for this week’s entry. Due to the request of my sister, who stated that my blogs were too long for her to read, I am going to keep this entry short but meaningful for those of you who usually form an excuse to avoid reading. These are exactly the type of individuals I wish to target in this entry anyway, the ones ‘too busy’ to slow down.
When was the last time you watched a sunset clear the horizon? Took a lone walk on a beautiful fall day? Laid on your back and watched for shooting stars in the dead of night? Or danced in the rain? Too many of us go through life without experiencing the beauty surrounding us every single day. We are too focused on our G.P.A, getting that next promotion, gaining popularity status, or paying the bills that our tunnel vision blurs the present moment. Our culture and society consumes us by asking “where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years?” Everyone is so focused on future planning, the only way one can be successful, and thus happy. Throughout high school it’s getting the good grades to attend the finest University. Once there it is all about building the resume to impress companies following graduation. With that notch on the old belt it’s time to think about marriage, raising a family, paying the mortgage, and planning for retirement. Then, in a blink of an eye, it’s all over. Our time here is through. In your final days how will you remember your time? Will your memories consist of 90-hour workweeks, never-ending ‘to-do’ lists, and regret? Or will they include experiencing a butterfly exit it’s cocoon, watching a child as they take their first steps, bathing in a tub surrounded in candles, and pure bliss? The choice is yours.
With Blackberrys, I-pads, text messaging, skype, and video game consoles it is easy to be consumed by the electronic boom that has swept this 21st century. By always being connected to ‘the network’ we neglect to slow down, look within ourselves, and recognize the beauty of our surroundings. Everyday I see students walking to class with their noses in the Blackberrys and I-pod buds in their ears. So worried about who tweeted what while they were in class and more entertained by Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream than the sound of birds chirping or the bells from the church tower.
Thus, my challenge for you this week is to ‘recognize where you are right now.’ Take some time and reflect on it. Put aside the stress of applying to medical school or getting the lead in the play and merely acknowledge the present. As you walk to class admire the changing of the leaves and the squirrels hustling to collect their stock for winter. While you shower unwind and allow your mind to wonder as you enjoy the sensation of the warm water splashing against your face. The world and your life has so much beauty, you just have to open your eyes.
Next to my picture on the SNC blog home page there’s a brief background summarizing the issues I plan on tackling throughout my entries. Within the paragraph you’ll find the statement, “Get in touch with your inner self, learn how to express it, and gain a self-confidence that you never knew you had.” Until this point I haven’t explored the depths of one’s true self. Why, you ask? Well it isn’t exactly the easiest subject matter to present via a blog. I’ve been reading James Martin’s novel Becoming Who You Are and merely want to share with you a passage from his chapter, ‘So Who Am I, Anyway?’ Hopefully it will help break down those barriers in which many of us hide behind, afraid of society’s expectations and judgments.
“I have been envious and even jealous of other people. At heart, my envy boiled down to this: everyone else has it easier than I do. And so they are so obviously happier than I am!
Of course this false, dangerous, too. One tends to compare one’s own life, which is always a mixed bag of good and bad, with what one falsely perceives as the “perfect life” of the other. In this way, we minimize our own gifts and graces and maximize the other person’s. Ironically, we often do the opposite with our problems and struggles: we maximize our own and minimize the other person’s. Others seem more clever, more attractive, more popular, more relaxed, more athletic, more whatever, than we are and therefore (or so it seems) they lead a charmed life. Likewise, the other person, we surmise, faces no real problems in his or her life. Or if we know that they do face problems, we think “Well, their problems are not as bad as mine.”
But no one leads that proverbial “charmed life.” Everyone’s life is full measure of graces and blessings, as well as struggles and challenges. And if we consistently compare our own complicated reality with the supposed perfection of another’s life, is it any wonder that we wish we were other than who we are?
Why is this such a dangerous temptation? For many reasons. First, because it leads to despair. Trapped by our false ways of perceiving other people’s lives, we denigrate our own lives, and thus devalue ourselves. And since it is always easier to imagine the “fantasy” life of the other, we remain stubbornly unsatisfied with our own. The tendency to compare ultimately leads to despair, since our own real life can never compare with the perceived (but false) perfection of the other person’s life. There is a pithy saying for this: Compare and despair.”
I shared this with you because I am sure you’ve all felt this at some point in your life. Wishing you were as smart as Sally Sue, as athletic as Bobby Joe, or as beautiful as Suzie Q. Spending all your energy comparing yourselves to others. It is this small but unbelievably powerful comparison that leads to a decreased self-confidence and an inability to ever tune in and accept one’s true inner self. We are so concentrated on the “perfect life” others possess that we proceed to degrade ourselves and forget all the beauty and grace in our own life.
What I wish to accomplish from this entry and passage is to open your narrow mindedness and allow you to realize that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and failures. While you are wasting your time wishing you had the book smarts your friend possesses, your friend is wasting equal time desiring your athletic ability. No one is perfect but we all have a purpose to contribute. Rather than compare ourselves in all aspects of our lives we instead need to knock down the barriers and be satisfied with the person we were made to be.
I strongly believe, as I’ve said before, everything happens for a reason. Every heartbreak, failure, obstacle, and triumph plays into the bigger picture of our lives. It is when we can say with honesty “I love who I am, everything about me, from the freckles on my face to the inability to hit a jump shot” that we are on our way to happiness. No one can be happy wishing they were something they are not and leading a false lifestyle. Instead they are internally filled with despair. You want confidence? You want to find and express your true self? You want happiness? Well, my answer is simply this: stop comparing yourself to your peers and society. Look within and discover what makes YOU tick. As François Duc de La Rochefoucauld states, “We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.” Don’t let this happen to you! Throw away your mask and allow the world to experience all the beauty you have to offer.
Stay Classy St. Norbert