And that’s okay.

As of late, this has been my mantra. Example: I wish I had more friends in this new place, and that’s okay. It is a friendlier, gentler voice in my head that reminds me to be patient. My first real lesson in patience came from an individual vastly cooler than myself.

His name was Dale. A Rastafarian, Jamaican-jungle man. His dark skin was so rich with color, like roasted coffee beans or bittersweet chocolate, it shined as both earthy, yet luxurious. Dreads hung from his head as a bandana decorated with marijuana leaves held them off his face. His mauve tank top looked weathered and dirty. He wore no shoes on the trails of sharp rocks and matted vegetation, while a machete laid relaxed in his right hand.

Dale had a quiet manner compared to his companion’s presence. A man with charisma, Lion showed off his athletic prowess with displays of headstands, incredible rock climbing and leg splits. Though Dale had a visibly equal build and strength, he lingered in the shadows of the group, observing from a distance. Once again, a kindred spirit appeared to me in the way they always do: magically.

These two men guided a group of American students (all girls) through the thick Jamaican jungle. This was truly the most anticipated part of the trip for me, a Midwestern college student with no real hiking experience. A real jungle! The exotic life that thrived in such places made me giddy. The time I could have spent picking up leaves, examining flowers, sitting quietly and absorbing the green life… Though humidity was suffocating at times, the jungle did not disappoint. I kept to myself most of the walk, savoring the sights and senses.

We were two miles from our final destination. I heard someone’s pace catching up to mine. I quickened my step, hoping to avoid more awkward conversations. But the ground was too wet; the damp brown leaves made me lose my footing. I gasped quietly as I lost my balance, but as I regained my form, I heard a smooth, knowing voice behind me whisper, Taaaaake your time… “Ha!” I chuckled out loud, trying to cover my embarrassment. I knew exactly who was talking to me. It was Dale, the quiet Rastafarian.

Suddenly, I found Dale walking along side of me and talking to me in his soothing voice. “Slow down, no need to move fast.” I was nervous. What could we possibly have to talk about? What could we have in common? But soon enough, we were talking about his abundant farm (Rastafarians are vegetarians and pot-connoisseurs.) We traded fishing stories. One time, I told him, my dad and I were crossing a bay when my rod bent so quickly, so strongly, and my line instantly snapped. That was a big fish, I said. His fishing story was better.

I’ve been lost at sea. You need two people in the boat, always. It’s so small, two people keep it stable against the ocean currents. Especially when there is a fish, a big fish, on your line. It can threaten your boat’s turnover. And when the fish is about the size of your boat, that’s when you need another to help you bring it in. Yeah, I’ve been lost at sea. A couple days. When the shoreline becomes out of view, that’s when you know. But I’m pretty good at finding my way back. I feel my way home… I love Jamaica. I am never going to leave Jamaica. Peace flows out of this land. Everything I need is here.

We walked in silence a while, and in little time, we were at the end of the trail. I waved goodbye to Dale.

Being away from home and my people, I sometimes wish for normalcy and the familiar. Undoubtedly, I feel a disconnection to my surroundings, the people I have met and the glaring sun. And that’s okay. Sometimes, I wish I was as grounded as Dale. That’s okay, too. Every once in a while, when I try to wish the present away, Dale’s three little words speak so softly in my mind, I have to listen really hard to hear them clearly.

Take your time.

all your impatience
comes from the push
for the gain of patience
let go of the effort
and peace will arrive

(rumi)

The Summer of 1995

As time passes, the days of childhood wonderment grow ever fondly. Sidewalk chalk. Slip ‘n Slides. Forts. Forts were built of pine needle beds and prairie grass curtains, trips to the cabin were prized above all other things. Baseball games were a favorite, and gardening with Grandpa was an almost daily time pass. My personal favorite was the creation of Dandelion Soup.

The objective was simple enough, create a delicious soup from any and all wildlife. The prized ingredient, however, was dandelion stems. First, you pluck the flowery top from its body. Be careful; pinch and cut the stem between your dirty fingernails at the base of the neck to ensure maximum use. Second, cut the rest of the stem in that same fashion, but from its roots. Third, take your fingernail and beginning at the top, peel a section of the stem away. The thinner the better. Each portion will curl into a tiny snail shell with every slice of your finger. After the stem is completely divided, sprinkle over the top of your soup for a delightful presentation. Dab dandelion buds to your skin to dress for the occasion, wild child.

Dandelions will always remind of my youngest sister. With the least bit of practicality within her, she fancies dandelions. A weed. The enemy of your All-American picket fence lawn. It makes sense; she, like the dandelion, has always felt misunderstood by her surroundings.

I reflect on these glory days as I enter adulthood. These past months have been… Extreme highs. And lows. Doubt beyond measure. Full of hope. But heartbreaking too. I reflect on those days because the changes within still feel heavy and bulky, not natural and real. And it’s when I feel like this that little Teresa comes to my mind.

Little Teresa did what she wanted. No sister could hassle her into playing dress-up (with a few precious exceptions when she was feeling generous). At recess, she daydreamed the time away, unamused by classmates. Animals were considered the best company (how she longed to be a lion.) She was herself, and apologized to no one.

It’s that last part that stings the most (today).

We all evolve with time, and hopefully, we hold onto the parts of ourselves that help us the most. I think of Darwin and his theory of evolution; only the living creatures that were able to adapt to their environment lived to prosper and even reproduce. But for today, and the next, and the one after that, I’ll keep revisiting that fearless part of myself (for my future being depends upon it.) And if there comes a time when I cannot, (for surely, this is a guarantee), there are a few things that sustain this soul-searching fool. And you can bet that Pink Floyd and Nature are involved.

“I am a human being first, a musician second, and a cellist third.” -Pablo Casals.

Watch me: http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/04/09/176681242/can-yo-yo-ma-fix-the-arts

 

 

Then to Now

It was a Wednesday. By late August, Minnesota was bursting with humidity. I had just finished my summer job as a camp counselor and within days of my return, I started packing for my next big move – Arizona. After living a summer in the forests of Michigan – sharing a small cabin with ten middle schoolers, sleeping on cots and wearing a couple of uniform light-blue polos – packing superfluous amounts of clothes, books and knick-knacks felt cumbersome. Do I need this? No. Yes… Just in case? Fine. Then it was time. My car was packed, my goodbyes were said. I wasn’t ready, but away I went. That was over four months ago.

Which brings me to now. With the arrival of ’14, I can’t help but ponder over the last year. I’ve made only one New Years resolution in my life. You have heard married couples being told to never go to bed angry at one another. In high school, I made that same resolution – with myself. This year, it can be summed up in one word: Be. Wherever you are, be.

So who (be) I? Lots of things. Pancake-enthusiast. Ping-pong champion. Lost intern. New hiker. Vinyl collector. A middle sister. Sriracha junkie. What will this blog be? Well, time will tell.