Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why Do You Follow Your Religion?

Why do you follow your religion? Does it have to do with the location where you were born, or the family you were born into? If you're born in the Western world, you're probably a Christian. If you're in the Eastern world, you're maybe a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist.... and the list can go on and on.

The point is, most people are not converts to their religion. They grow up in a religious household, or with religion around them, and they propagate those ideas to their young. And the cycle repeats. That doesn't make any religion more superior than any other. I'm intrigued how some people think their religion is the only "right one" while the other ones are clearly the "wrong ones." Most likely, the people who believe so passionately that that their religious path is the only way is because they were indoctrinated when they were young.....  Would you believe so passionately about your religious choice if you were born across the world from where you are now? Think about it.
Just sayin'

Friday, May 20, 2011

Explaining the Intangible

People are always trying to explain what love, friendship, and other intangible things are. How do you describe something you can't touch or see? How can you explain something the exists only because you feel that it exists? Feelings are so subjective and they cannot be compared from person to person (or can they?). I'm not sure, but maybe that's why I like quotes so much. They provide me with validation that someone else, somewhere has felt the same way that I have. 
My good friend Jody posted this quote as her facebook status the other day:
"Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is an act of recognition...two souls suddenly recognize each other. It could be a meeting on the street, or at a party...suddenly there is the flash of recognition.... There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing." ~ John O'Donohue
A quote by C.S. Lewis says “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”
These quotes provide an interesting perspective on friendship/love. I'm intrigued that I can have the type of intense connection that both quotes discuss over and over again (to varying degrees), with different types of people. That "flash of recognition," the instance when I'm communicating with someone and I pick up on something they say (or something they don't say) that I can relate to on a deep level, is powerful, and fun, and worth reflecting on.
I used to form a lot of superficial relationships. Not on purpose, at least not on a conscious level. But, I was subconsciously drawn to people who didn't ask me too many questions about my life, because I wasn't yet ready to start answering questions. In the past few years, I've changed a lot. I've grown a lot. I've learned a lot. I'd like to think I've always been an inclusive, warm person, but I'm now more receptive to that "flash of recognition." I try to spend more time appreciating how much I can relate to other people, but I'm also encountering the next step (which corresponds with my last post) which is learning how to let people go. I'm working on valuing time spent and relationships built with people even if it is only for a short time.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"We only part to meet again."

I recently did an updated post, but it appears that it's not showing up now. I'm not quite sure how they just disappear, but I'll repost the entry I posted on my other blog.

This morning, at about 5am, I dropped my friends from Ecuador off at the airport in Norfolk, VA. I had some wonderful discussions with Maria and Liz on the drive up. Piece by piece, Liz, my co-pilot,  has told me a lot of her life story, which I greatly appreciate and value. Over the journey, everyone in the van eventually fell asleep. Liz even fell asleep with my GPS in her hands haha.

At the airport, Stephanie and I helped some of them shove their stuff into bags. They thought they were going to have to leave so much behind, but we just crammed their belongings in so tightly that we joked that their bags would explode (and I hope they don't). After they all checked in, they realized their flights were boarding and they hadn't even been through security. We parted ways in a rush. But, it was a very difficult "bye" (please note that I won't say "goodbye," because it's too permanent). But, Edda hugged me first and held on for a long time. She started to cry, and I tried to pull away. She held on longer. So I hugged back, tightly. It's so nice when you hug someone and you let go first, and they continue to hold on. I almost choked up and would have cried had it not been 5am (and I hadn't slept yet). Then, I went through and hugged each person; Liz, Maria, Victor, Fernanda, and Sandra. I hugged each of them tightly and told them how thankful I am for them, and that they'll be missed. As they walked away, I told them I love them, because I do. I love each of them, and have only known them a short, short time. I formed stronger connections with a select few, which is to be expected when we were all hanging out in a group of 10ish. As much as I'd love to have a strong connection with everyone, group settings aren't conducive to such things. But love, it is such a powerful, and painful feeling. It's terrifying not knowing when I'm going to see them again. It's terrifying knowing I can help create such a strong bond with people that live on a different continent. I knew all along they were leaving, and I continued to be attached. I had to remind myself that it's okay to love people who will leave. It's okay to enjoy my experiences with them though they will be finite. It's okay to be close to people, and to value that connection. I'm using this example to remind myself that I am able to connect with a variety of people, and this connection doesn't have to span a lifetime (though it'd be great if it did) to be of value in my life. I've learned a lot from these friends. I can value and appreciate the time that we did have, and the experiences that we shared. I can look back and smile and know that their trip to the U.S. was better because I was a part of it. And that, with time, will be such a good feeling... It's still so hard though. I've never been good at parting ways with people. But I'm learning.

Today, my heart is heavy, and it's difficult to move. I'm trying to embrace the wonderful times we've had together. Right now, I can't help but be reminded that the odds of me seeing any of those people ever again will drastically dwindle with time, and that kills me. I want so badly to take a trip to Ecuador.

"We only part to meet again." John Gay

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coffee Shops

You never know how important having a coffee shop in your town is, until you don't have access to one. I'm happy to be back to civilization where I can spend an entire afternoon at the coffee shop, if I want. It's a nice convenience that I formerly took for granted.
It's bright in the Front Porch Cafe today. The cafe is a big open space with a lot of windows. I feel comfortable here. It's well-lit, accommodating, and inviting. The light coming in contributed to my day-long headache that no amount of water will heal. I probably drank too much last night, but I had a nice time with my friends from Ecuador and the Philippines.
The main barista knows me because I stop in several times a week. She, too, is originally from Michigan. She actually graduated from Michigan State University, which is where I was just accepted for a PhD program. (Small World.) 
I've starting drinking more tea. Hot tea, iced tea. I usually ask for their suggestions for flavor. But, it's pretty good and is usually enough to take care of my caffeine fix. It gives my body a break from coffee for a bit.

Moral of the story: Coffee shops are a wonderful part of my life. I never knew how much I value them until I didn't have access to them in Chauvin, LA. I'm glad to be reunited.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hate and Death.

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." 
Why would we rejoice that someone is dead? Did that man not have a mother or a father? Sisters or brothers? Nieces and nephews? Did he not feel pain or happiness or love? Was he not human? Was he not alive?
I understand that he did terrible things to our people. I understand that he took the lives of others. Is it our place to kill him because he killed citizens of our country? How is it right that the punishment for murder is death? Who are we to rejoice that one more life is gone? Why don't we understand, yet, that hate breeds hate. As MLK Jr. says, "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." So many people are "promoting" world peace, but when it comes down to it, they're happy that our enemy is dead. Where's the world peace if we just continually perpetuate the cycle of hate?
It's okay to be angry, outraged, livid because of his ruthless choices. I disagree with our actions when we decide who can live and who will die. That's not "justice" as it's written in the laws. In the end, as Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye leaves us all blind."

Note: So the quote ISNT entirely by MLK Jr. If you're focusing on WHO said those words and not what the words MEAN, you've missed the entire point. But check out this link: