You know the saying, ‘if you want something done quickly, give it to a busy person’? When I have too much unstructured time on my hands, I crumple a little bit. That sounds far more dramatic than it actually is, but in India I had something to do, somewhere to be, at every moment of every day. I had almost six weeks of free time when I got back to the states and found myself with a few options: sleeping, reading, watching TV, and eating ice cream.
And I did all four things. I did them gloriously and without apology. But this kind of life (for anyone, not just the ones like me who need to wake up every morning and be a part of something bigger than they are) is not sustainable. So – for my last week in Florida – I shook everything up and did some pretty cool things.
I became a pirate.
Not really. But my dad and I did take a two day sailing course where I learned a lot of new words and how to steer a 1,300 pound boat. That was pretty cool. As were my tan lines.
I played with primates.
Justin came to visit and I wanted to plan something unique. Both of us love animals and when I found out that you could play with lemurs at the local zoo, Jungle Island, it sounded too cool not to check it out.
These were the pictures the zoo photographer took. We tried to get some of our own, selfie-style, and it turns out getting lemurs to pose for pictures of quite difficult. The only time one of them sat still for longer than five seconds was when little Chicken Nugget (far right) decided to pop a squat in my lap and eat my hair.
We saw some other critters to and, while being so close to wildlife is thrilling and I love learning about different kinds of animals, I was reminded why I dislike zoos. Goats, tiny monkeys, birds…perhaps they are small enough that their natural habitats can be replicated in captivity. But to see orangutans and lions behind bars…it reminds you that what is wild should stay wild.
I celebrated history in the making.
On the drive to St. Augustine, I listened to John Kerry speak as the U.S. flag was raised in Havana and remembered when, just the week before, I was as close as any American could previously go to Cuba.
This morning I feel very much at home here…and I feel at home here because this is truly a memorable occasion – a day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities. And it is in that spirit that I say on behalf of my country, Los Estados Unidos acogen con beneplacito este nuevo comienzo de su relacion con el pueblo y el Gobierno de Cuba. Sabemos que el camino hacia unas relaciones plenamente normales es largo, pero es precisamente por ello que tenemos que empezar en este mismo instante. No hay nada que temer, ya que seran muchos los beneficios de los que gozaremos cuando permitamos a nuestros ciudadanos conocerse mejor, visitarse con mas frecuencia, realizar negocios de forma habitual, intercambiar ideas y aprender los unos de los otros. My friends, we are gathered here today because our leaders – President Obama and President Castro – made a courageous decision to stop being the prisoners of history and to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow. This doesn’t mean that we should or will forget the past; how could we, after all? – John Kerry
I love these lines, especially the part about not being prisoners of history. Yes, Cubans still are not free. Yes, a Castro is still in power. But the mentality that one must persist with a course of action that is clearly not working simply because it is what is done…its dangerous. And who does it serve? While listening Kerry speak I started to get slightly teary eyed. I have never been to Cuba, nor do I feel like I have any claim to it. But there is still something there. A longing to belong to your own history as well as an ache to end the injustices done to others. So speaking of driving to St. Augustine…
I watched a dear friend get married.
I danced like I hadn’t in a very long time (with the specific goal of dancing so erratically that my date couldn’t keep a straight face) and watched as one of my best and oldest friends committed herself forever to the luckiest guy. Two quotes came to mind that night and – no – neither were Corinthians.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were….marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. – Justice Anthony Kennedy
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment in the contemplation of his beloved. -Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning
To Boston, right from the wedding. I packed up my life in a few suitcases and moved. Again. I survived the first week of orientation and, after reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and getting to know my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain a little better, I am ready for the second week and the week after that when 150 kids show up and expect me to teach them something. Am I nervous? More excited. Am I tired already? Yeah. Am I lucky enough to be part of something bigger than myself again? Definitely. And I can’t wait.