Stories are coming faster than I can write them down. I hate that feeling. Time is cheating me here.
Truthfully, until about a week and a half ago, I was unaware of time passing. Or at least only vaguely so. It was only at Isla Negra, while I was feeling like I had died and gone to artistic heaven at Neruda’s house, that our assistant director announced that “Well, we’re pretty much at the end of the quarter now.”
I was so upset. At the time, I was so in the moment, so relaxed, so happy to be doing exactly what I was doing that I didn’t want to think about the end of my time in Chile. Now, I feel more ok with it. I got to talk with my whole family at Thanksgiving. I’ll be happy to go home and see them. And recently I’ve been in better touch with friends at Stanford and thinking about what the winter will be like. I’m actually excited about it.
It’s going to be a dose of reality though. I read a great NY Times article that reminded me how study abroaders like me haven’t felt the economic situation quite the same way that everyone else has. And I just finished up finals, which reminded me that I will have to work a lot more seriously when I get back to Stanford.
It makes me feel too lucky, actually. I’m in Chile having the most incredible experience, more relaxed than I’ve ever been–probably in my life, and visiting some of the most amazing places in the world. While most people are talking about buckling down, being especially frugal, trying to find summer jobs. It’s a strange situation that makes me feel almost guilty.
I know the timing isn’t ideal for me to spend huge chunks of my summer earnings on overpriced flights to Easter Island, but I wholeheartedly maintain that there is incredible value in doing this. Being here has changed so much for me at a time when I needed a break in the worst possible way. I know the “nose to the grindstone” mentality pretty well. In fact, I spent the summer working full time while taking a class and writing a grant for a student group. Like many goal-oriented college students, I made a jam packed schedule a habit.
Coming here has been different. I decided to really use the time for myself. To just be here and experience it. Even if all this seems like an inappropriate luxury, it is making me more grounded and relaxed, and ultimately more productive.
I really like quotations and found one that feels appropriate for this train of thought:
Those of us who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. We will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our aggressivity, our ego-centered ambitions, our delusions about ends and means.” -Thomas Merton
This makes sense on so many levels. To be a good person you have to take care of yourself. Reflection, self improvement, and yes even travel are constructive and on some level necessary. Even though it feels crazy given the state of the world, being here has been, and still is, worth it. I’m not really guilty, just lucky.