YESTERDAY I WENT TO LEGACY PLACE IN DEDHAM, FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR, IT IS YOUR STANDARD SUBURBAN SHOPPING HUB. NOT EXACTLY WHAT ONE WOULD DESCRIBE AS A QUIET OR PEACEFUL PLACE ANYMORE, UNLESS YOU ARE IN THE OASIS OF STIL STUDIO DOING YOGA OF COURSE. THOUGH JUST BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS THIS PLACE REACHES A SPECIAL KIND OF CHAOS. LEGACY PLACE USED TO JUST BE A GIANT PARKING LOT AND A SHOWCASE CINEMAS THAT MY OLD LANDLORD BUILT BRICK-BY-BRICK. I USED TO DRIVE TO THIS LOT IN HIGH SCHOOL AND WATCH THE LIGHTNING STORMS LIGHT UP THE SKY. WITHOUT A KNOWABLE REASON THIS PARKING LOT ALWAYS HAD A BEAUTIFUL VANTAGE POINT OF THE SKYLINE, SOMETIMES IT CAN STILL BE APPRECIATED BEHIND ITS CONCRETE WALLS.
WELL, EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE I STILL FEEL INCLINED TO TRY AND CATCH SOME OF THE SKYS BEAUTY, FROM THIS RATHER UNASSUMING PLACE. I JUST MISSED THE SUNSET AS THE DAYS ARE MUCH SHORTER NOW. I DID NOT SEE A BEAUTIFUL SKYLINE OR SUNSET BUT I DID NOTICE SOMETHING ELSE. I DROVE BY ALL OF THE PEOPLE HONKING TRYING TO GET A SPOT IN THE MAIN LOT AND DROVE TO THE THIRD FLOOR OF THE PARKING GARAGE, IT IS HERE THAT I HAD A FEW THOUGHTS.
I COULD FEEL THE HECTIC CHAOS AND ENERGY FROM DOWN BELOW, IN SOME WAY THOUGH--I FELT IMMUNE--UNPHASED BY IT. THE SCENE LOOKED LIKE A FLURRY OF SIMULTANEOUS DISCORDINANT, FAST MOVING, BUT PARADOXICALLY STAGNANT ACTIVITY. JUST BLINKING RED BRAKE LIGHTS, FRUSTRATED SHOPPERS LAYING ON THE HORN, FOLKS WALKING BRISKLY BY ONE ANOTHER, SOMEHOW IT STILL FELT QUIET WHERE I WAS STANDING. AS THOUGH I WAS LOOKING DOWN ON IT FROM SOME FAR OFF DISTANT PLACE, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS JUST A FEW HUNDRED FEET BELOW, IT FELT SO FAR AWAY.
I STARTED TO THINK THAT I WAS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE AT ONE POINT JUST RUNNING AROUND TRYING TO BUY THE HAPPINESS OF MY LOVED ONES THROUGH A MARKETING GIMICK, AND LAST-MINUTE OF COURSE. IN NO WAY DO I MEAN TO CONDEMN BUYING THINGS FOR YOUR LOVED ONES, THE GENEROSITY THAT I HAVE ALSO EXPERIENCED AROUND THIS TIME HAS BEEN SO BEAUTIFUL, OFTEN WITH GENUINE INTENT. I WAS JUST THINKING AT THE TOP OF THAT GARAGE HOW I COULD NEVER SEE MYSELF RE-ENTERING THAT LIFE, OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. I CANNOT FIND PEACE IN THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF EVERYONE RUNNING AROUND, I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE MYSELF EVER BEING IN THAT PLACE AGAIN.
THOUGH IT WASN'T EASY I OPTED FOR NON-MATERIAL GIFTS THIS SEASON. ( MY FRIEND ALEX AT STAY VOCAL WOULD BE SO PROUD!) NOT ONLY WAS I NOT STRESSED OUT AT ALL THIS SEASON I FEEL SO EXCITED TO GIVE MY GIFTS BECAUSE IT MEANS SPENDING TIME WITH PEOPLE I LOVE MOST.
WHEN PEOPLE LOOK BACK AT THEIR LIVES NO ONE WILL BE SAYING I WISH THAT I SPENT MORE MONEY ON BUYING PEOPLE PRESENTS, THEY WILL BE WISHING THEY SPENT MORE TIME WITH THE PEOPLE THEY LOVE.
Luck is a strange thing. Dictionary defines it as success or failure brought about by chance, not your own actions. I have always been told my own story is one without luck. I have my own thoughts about this but either way I believe I have created my own "luck" based upon how I have chosen to look at my life. Basically I have taken the scenic route in life, it is longer, harder, but it is filled with lessons, love, strength, and beauty.
Our perceptions of our own lives are powerful. A life of identical experiences can be bad or good based on our way of looking at them. I grew up in what many in a developed country would define as a "poor household", whatever that means. Every Monday I would pick up my school lunch chips. I got my first job when I was 14 because I never have and have never wanted to ask anyone for money. I was raised in a non-traditional household which is becoming more and more common these days. My grandmother raised me since I was born with all odds against her. Without a formal education, without money, without modern generational awareness, but with all the love. When I graduated I received academic scholarships that allowed me to attend a state school and worked on the weekends knowing that I would pay for my own expenses. I graduated with a degree in Economics and then went on to complete my masters. I had a committment to social justice which in this society can feel like a bit of a paradox and was unwilling to accept a job that would steal my soul for a bottom line. I have searched for a job with countless interviews for about 6 years, have always worked a few jobs at a time and still do today, I have finally found a position that I am passionate about and leaves me filled with happiness, fulfillment, and feeling as though I have made a difference--that someone's life is better because I am in it.
I had gotten a taste of international travel and fell in love with travel in unassuming impoverished nations. I don't want to sit in an all inclusive 4-star hotel and drink until I cannot remember the life I do not want to go back to--I want to sit in a village in a bar with a dirt floor and drink warm beer and get made fun of by the locals as they make guesses as to which country I am from. I want to drive into the mountains and dance salsa where not a single tourist can be found, I want to ride a horse bareback on the beach with my Argentinian friend that I just met but feel like I have known for lifetimes. I want to camp by the moonlight and make love listening to the waves and wake up in the middle of the night to chase my flip flops being swallowed up by the sea. I want to work on an organic farm pulling weeds and picking coffee and talk to the farmers about their struggles and be their advocate in a system ridden with injustice. I want to play soccer with the locals until I am so dirty you cannot tell whether I got too much sun or if I need a shower. These experiences that have been some of the best of my life have been free. The best times of our lives and our most memorable moments cannot be paid for with a square piece of plastic.
My household was maybe considered poor by a set of standards of one of the richest countries in the world but I had seen real poverty, and there is still so much that I have not seen. I never had fancy cars, vacations, or clothes but I had the best food, rustic budget adventures, and a roof over my head. Maybe some would say I had a "broken" family but to me it was anything but broken. I recieved more love from my grandmother than many could hope for in their entire lifetime. I have worked since I was 14 and have never once called out sick, I felt the value of hardwork. I have done my grandmother's finances since I was able to write coherently, I truly knew the value of a dollar and even as a pre-teen was pretty discouraged as to the miracle of my grandmother making that dollar work every month. I have never asked her for a single penny or thing in my life, she gave me whatever she could with her whole heart, she would give to me before she would give to herself. I hope one day I can have her strength, generosity, and resourcefulness. She has taught me the true meaning of generosity. She was a widow at age 40 and raised 4 children and a granddaughter all by herself, I have felt the power of independence through her. I have watched prolonged suffering and illness and held someone I loved so dear as they lay dying and felt their life leave their physical body. I know the value of life.
All of my "misfortunes" were lessons and life experiences in disguise. I have never seen my life as unlucky. We do not become who we are without this suffering, so I am thankful for the scenic route to life. I have become who I am from these "misfortunes" which I view as blessings.
As a result I would never want a yacht or a million dollars, those things do not build character. I would be just as happy in the woods, on a mountain, near the ocean, reading a used book for $1, sitting on a floor eating my dinner with some homemade italian wine which I tend to do.
As I am writing this, I am listening to a conversation as I sit at this table at a farmers market. A woman is on the verge of tears confiding in her friends that her parents have supported her and provided for her by paying for college, a car, her apartment, but that she has never once felt truly loved or heard. I am crying as well, and she has no idea why. I wanted to say something to this woman, give her a hug, she was hurting. She had what so many would view as excess, but to me she was poor, she was without love, she was empty, as empty as my bank account. In that moment I felt even more rich, more than I ever had.
The universe works in strange ways, it felt as though if in some way hearing her story reaffirmed how blessed I am. I thank the universe for leaving me without money it taught me the value of hard work and independence. Thank you for giving me a "broken home" because without it I would never have felt real uncondintional love. Thank you for giving me friends who have betrayed me now my life is filled with beautiful genuine friendships that span across borders and oceans. Thank you for giving me disloyal and dishonest boyfriends because without them I would never have recognized my worth and true loyalty and honesty. I have gratitude for the people that doubted me and said I would never make a living with my obscure major and specific interests because it taught me to believe in myself and work harder. Thank you for showing me real suffering and illness because I can appreciate health. I thank my uncle for doubting I could ever be disciplined because after his death it pushed me to work harder, I was afraid of failure. I work relentlessly each day and take a step closer to my goals, because results are not instant, they come with time, patience, and dedication.
I am humbled by all I still have to learn and the billions of people that are suffering everyday--in comparison I feel truly blessed. I am grateful for my obstacles to come and am mentally prepared to face them courageously because I know they are how I will continue to build myself into the person I want to be.
I challenge everyone to think about their "bad luck" and see if they can recognize how ultimately they came out on top, how their struggles have brought them to a place of strength and resilience. To the universe--Thank you for giving me "nothing " because in that you have actually given me everything.