What My World's Like

#notetoself: be considerate. build community.

Apr
27

how to build community written by the Syracuse Cultural Workers Collective

This is the seventh #notetoself letter, originally sent on March 19, 2012.

Five weeks ago, I arrived at Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua specifically to work on a permaculture farm. Nearly everything I read about this island was that it was magical. That magic wasn’t fully expounded upon, so I hoped I’d figure out for myself what it was about. As I prepare to leave tomorrow, I realize I understand the gravitational pull this island has on one’s heart and mind from my experience in Balgue. I was actually supposed to leave a few days ago, but it didn’t feel right; I didn’t see it and I didn’t feel it. So I stayed.

During what was to be my final week here, I realized how embedded others had become in this community and how much I felt like I stood on the periphery, here and in it, yet removed at the same time. I wanted to be more of a part of it. There are some incredibly dynamic people here, funny, generous, cooperative… I didn’t want to leave feeling as disconnected as I did and wanted to forge a deeper bond, despite my imminent departure.

This same week, one of the long-term volunteers discovered that she had lice. That realization led to a sort of impromptu communal lice check. One of the women who found out she also had lice never had it before, so she was a bit freaked out. Her behavior after that discovery really impacted me.

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#notetoself: show your love.

Apr
07

don't hurt to anger, hurt, or pain. they steal your energy and keep you from love.

This is the sixth #notetoself letter, originally sent on March 13, 2012.

There is a great irony in my personality. I suppose it’s common amongst others that identify as writers, but knowing it’s not specific to me doesn’t make me any more comfortable with it than if it were only my problem.

I’m a horrible communicator.

Yup. Horrible.

However eloquently I may be able to string together written words, I’m much less gifted with the spoken word, especially when it comes to my most vulnerable relationships. Especially when I’m hurt. Especially when hurt and most other painful emotions are filtered through anger. The only thing I can communicate then is anger. The knives come out. They’re figurative, but the wounds from my words can be just as painful as a literal cut — and they can go deeper.

The result is frequent apologies. I’m sorry for days, but anything said too often begins to lose its power. The last thing you want to do is issue an impotent apology. I fear sincerity won’t be able to carry me for much longer.

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#notetoself: touch the sky.

Apr
03

This is the fifth #notetoself letter, originally sent on March 5, 2012.

Henry David Thoreau said, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” He lived in the first half of the 19th century and yet those words still contain truth today. It’s sad. Quiet desperation kills the spirit.

Before this trip, I realized how discontent I’d become with my life. My work didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t even sure what I was doing with my “work”. I never knew how answer the “what do you do?” question. I don’t know. Live. That was the response I wanted to give.

I’m a great starter. My starting energy is fresh, empathic and certain. Then, slowly but surely, it’d wane and I’d quit. I’m also a great quitter. My attention usually shifts gears to something else equally engaging.

That’s a pattern I’m really sick of.

A few nights ago, I happened upon an Alicia Keys’ song called “How It Feels to Fly” that’s feeding my soul. With such ambiguous lyrics, I don’t know exactly what she’s talking about in the song, but for me, it makes me think about reaching for my dreams.

“I am riding high, don’t wanna come down.
Hope my wings don’t fail me now.
If I can touch the sky, I’d risk the fall
Just to know it feels to fly.”

How many of our goals are our own? Whose definition of success drives our actions? I can criticize corporate America all I want, but I was a part of the rat race, even if I didn’t have a 9-5. The discontent I feel is the result of not doing things I wanted to do, for whatever reason. There’s so much I want to do, and have wanted to do but have neglected to. This trip is the perfect example of a dream deferred. I’ve always wanted to travel and stay somewhere for a longer period of time. That’s just now happening for me. On the other hand, I appreciate it just the same because I can receive so much of this experience differently than I might have in the past.

Being here has awakened me to my desire to do things I’ve neglected to do, things I let sit in the recesses of my mind and my heart. They were there, alive, but unattended. Living a life with meaning, passion and fulfillment are of incredible importance to me.

Earlier last week, one of the people I’ve been blessed to meet on this trip asked me if I wanted to hike one of the two volcanoes on the island. Of course he wanted to do the larger volcano, Volcan Concepcion, the one we look at everyday. Without hesitation, I said yes. Sure. Why not?

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