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vita inter astra

welcome to my "life among the stars"

death

death intrigues me, and death scares me. i’ve always had a fascination yet fear of it. fascination because the idea of simply ceasing to exist is unsettling and thought provoking. death is the only certain thing in this world, yet the only thing that no one has ever experienced and lived to tell. i have written in the past about the curious idea of inmates choosing their last earthly meal before being sent to death row. some choose large home cooked meals, some choose bowls of ice cream, others nothing at all. yet death scares me more and more as i grow older. i realize what i have to lose. i realize that there will always be places i won’t get to see and people i won’t get to meet. as i’ve grown up, i’ve met people that i cannot imagine leaving behind. or on the flip side, there are people whose souls i cannot imagine dying. the mere thought of one of these people’s existence being put out is enough to make me want to corral them in a room, lock the door, and never leave.

some hearts i don’t think i’ll ever be able to meet again. some people are just too unique to believe that there are duplicates somewhere in the world. each love is so beautifully different, and each one is difficult to let go of. these people make me fear death more than anything because i am so terribly incapable of saying goodbye. some souls i have never met, for example chris mccandless, yet i feel such a pull to them and their lives that i cannot fathom the fact that they are no longer on earth.

dead bodies also have an effect on me- the effect that is both though provoking and fear causing. i wish to enter the medical field and find cadavers incredible. i do not fear dead bodies. yet imagining the dead bodies of one of those close to me is unfathomable. seeing someone that i once shared thoughts, emotions, physical contact, and memories with yet knowing that they are no longer there is unsettling. not to mention the thought about where that person’s soul has gone- if anywhere. i think that this uncertainty and need for answers is why people turn to religion. it is easiest if you simply imagine your or someone else’s soul going to heaven rather than believing that there is nothing more.

for myself, i don’t necessarily fear death. rather, i fear missing out on life- missing out on places, people, and events. i fear the death of those close to me. i have come to know a few beautiful laughs, hearts, and souls that i just cannot fathom living without. for them, i am beyond thankful.

we as a society don’t talk about death. we fear it to the point that we don’t want to even consider it. instead, we look past it and hope for a life beyond death. even the talk of death makes people squirm. however, these are the things that i enjoy talking about. i like thinking about things that make people, including myself, uncomfortable. we have one life. make it count.

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Fear

You miss out on so much of the world when you’re afraid. Fear can consume you until there is nothing left but a hollow shell. The fear of failure. The fear of speaking too boldly. The fear of doing what you really love. This is, I believe, what happens to people as they get older- they have completely shut themselves off from the possibility of living outside of a daily routine. Ask them when the last time they tried something new was, and you shouldn’t be surprised by the long silence as their eyes dart about trying to recall the last time they dared to stray from their everyday shopping list of events.

Do you ever wonder why children have the brightest eyes and the quickest smiles? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that the older one gets, the more cynical they become, as if the burden of living has become too much? I fear this. I fear becoming so hurt by the world that I become cold and bitter. I fear letting go of my passions and dreams because they’re not “realistic” enough. We only live one life. A child has the most positive outlook on the world because they are constantly being stimulated by new and exciting experiences, which is something we lose as we age and stop searching for knowledge and adventure.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to travel with distant relatives to Belize. I was separated from my parents for ten days, flew alone in and out of our nation’s capital, and entered a foreign country. Not only was I in Belize with a different family, but we were also staying on a local island where crime is high and the water isn’t safe to drink. Needless to say, my parents were beside themselves with fear. Perhaps it is my inherent need for adventure or my lackadaisical temperament that caused me to embark on this foreign excursion, but I swallowed my fear and had the time of my life. I came to realize that I was simply a visitor on this tiny island. A resort would likely have been safer and more luxurious, but nothing compares to walking down the muddy streets of an exotic country, seeing the children ride their bikes to school, and entering a local’s home to buy homemade cinnamon rolls. I swam alongside sharks, climbed to the top of an ancient Mayan temple, and floated down a jungle river surrounded by the sound of howler monkeys and waterfalls. While my parents sat at home and scoffed at the horrors of the outside world, I saw the possibilities that lie outside of your front door.

Instead of settling for a life of mediocracy and comfort, I hope that we all find the courage to let go of our fears, whatever they may be, and live boldly. Engage a stranger in conversation, switch your major, pack up and leave, learn a new hobby, give your wildest dream a chance. What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen?

*silence*

Silence…

…It’s a very underestimated thing nowadays. We’re all caught up in the hustle and bustle of the technological age in which the tiniest *buzz* can send us diving for our phones. I must admit that I used to suffer from “phantom vibration syndrome,” a sad excuse for being so obsessive about an incoming notification that you actually start to hearing things that haven’t happened.

I’ve really been trying to cut down on the use of technology, but with being a full time student and teenager, it can be difficult. I have limited myself much more than most people my age, which I can say confidently (with a little smirk, of course, because I’m using it right now). The key is that I’ve found the positive side of social media, which is the side that I use to inspire me. Instead of wading in the pool of self doubt and criticism that is “popular teenage girls who have a hotter body than me and boys draped over each arm,” I follow the people who have made me who I am today. I follow the travel accounts of people walking across continents and exploring the world. They’ve shown me parts of the world that I didn’t know existed and made me feel like a world traveler without leaving my couch. I follow yogis who inspire me to push my body to its limits. I follow people who live out of their cars and live a raw vegan lifestyle. All in all, I follow people who expand my views of the world. We always hear how social media is “bad” for us, but I’ve learned so much from having direct contact with people who have such different lifestyles.

I’m so proud to say that I have extraordinary dreams. I don’t dream of the white picket fence house in the same neighborhood I grew up in. I dream of setting foot in every continent and living every lifestyle possible. Just because I’ve grown up in a provincial setting, surrounded by private, Catholic school kids whose only dream is to get through ten years of college and make enough money to happily sit on their bums once they reach 65, doesn’t mean I’m going to do the same.

I would have never become this version of myself if it hadn’t been for social media.

I did not mean for this to become a post on social media but consider it a prelude to my main point (don’t you love that feeling when you sit down to write and the words just come flowing out before you can stop and think?!).

Anyways! My point is that nearly no one knows how to stop……and breath. We run around from school to work to home and more work then parties and so on. The practice that has diffused all of my stress is silence. I do yoga in silence and ride my bike in silence and sit in silence. My favorite thing to do is get up earlier than most, drive to school in little to no traffic, park, and watch the sun rise. I turn off my music and phone and just…sit. I roll my windows down and tune into the conversations the birds are having with each other. I watch clouds blow across the sky and listen to the rustling of palm trees. I let my mind wander.

The harsh reality is that I’m still in the heart of a big city, which I’m reminded of as other girls speed by blaring their own music. I simply chuckle to myself because that person isn’t able to hear the beauty around them. That person is going to park, check their Snapchat, run inside, and go about their very hectic day, never stopping until their head hits the pillow.

In all honesty, I live a pretty hectic life between school, homework, and activities, but that’s what makes the silent moments so special. Taking a few moments every day to just be present is more powerful than you could ever expect.

Not to mention, silent moments shared with another soul can deepen any bond. Conversation is important but so is silence. Therefore, I encourage you to give it a try.

Living the Boring Life

I live a boring life…

…This can be a tough realization for someone who dreams about endless adventures in far off lands, having a huge Italian family, or becoming a world famous equestrian show jumper. These are all dreams I have come up with in my short time on earth. More than anything I want to look back on my life and be able to say I lived it completely, squeezing every last drop of experience out of my life, no matter how long or short it may be.

Despite this, I was recently hit in the gut by the fact that I am currently living a very uneventful life. I have the most average life anyone could possibly live. I’m an only child, have an extremely small family, dance, attend an all-girl private school, have a teacher and engineer as parents, and have only been out of the country once. Everyone around me has an interesting story; everyone’s broken a bone, has a sibling, owns a dog, has a large family, etc. I, one of the few people who strives for an extraordinary life, wasn’t blessed with one. I love hearing people’s hilariously exaggerated stories about their crazy morning, extravagant trip to a foreign country, or drunk relatives at a distant cousin’s wedding, but I find myself at a loss for interesting tales to tell. I believe that, subconsciously, that is why I strive for greatness.

Aside from all this, I’m grateful I don’t live blissfully ignorant. I’m excited to travel and create a family and stories of my own, which is more than most people my age can say. I know what I want to accomplish, and I’m ready to chase it.

I’ve been told that I have a very deep soul and a compassionate heart. I’ve been confided in and looked up to. I’ve become the center of attention in my small family and small suburban neighborhood. I ask a lot of questions and can’t wait to see the world and become rich with experience. Come back to me in a few years, and I can promise you I’ll have a hell of a story to tell…

…I was born into ordinary circumstances, but I refuse to continue living a boring life.

Humans

People always surprise me. I was raised to fear people, to always carry pepper spray and never wander off the beaten path. I used to laugh and say “oh yeah, I hate people” when my friends and I were ranting about some stupid thing we saw someone doing in public. A few days ago I was hit by the realization that I in fact don’t hate people but actually deeply love them.

I live in a world with 7 billion other people, and I refuse to live my life avoiding them. Some of the most beautiful and inspiring things that have happened to me were the product of a fellow human being. I can look back on amazing places around the world I’ve been to and the name how the people I met made me smile more than the destination itself. However, I am a very solitary person and only let a select few into my head. I am most at peace when I am by myself and in touch with the world around me-and I don’t mean the world of 7 billion people, I mean the world I breathe, the one that floods my eyes when I wake up in the morning, the one that flows through my hair and against my skin, the one that warms me to the core, and the one that creates and destroys life on command. I love nature, and I will typically choose a day to myself spent grinding moist soil between my hands and listening to the crunch of a faraway creature running through the trees than a day in a crowded mall, but people always find a way to amaze me.

Over the past summer I went to Arizona and connected with so many people on a deeper level. I’m not a person to spend time and money on touristy events, yet on this particular 100º day in the desert I found myself on a train (a very touristy train, in fact) headed to the Grand Canyon. The man walking around our car was probably in his 20s-30s and looked like a knockoff Ryan Gosling. He was a very soft-spoken and kind man who let me in on his life. He went to NAU in Flagstaff (which is now my dream school, thanks to him) and worked as a bouncer for many years before coming to work on the train we were currently on. On the same trip I was horseback riding (yet another touristy event, thanks mom). If you didn’t already know (of course you don’t because this is an anonymous blog), I ride horses and have for many many years. Two of the guides took immediate notice to the fact that I actually knew what I was doing and struck up conversation with me. We talked about the different disciplines of riding that we do-I described how I love the structure of English riding and the feeling of flying over the fences while one of the cowboys reminisced on the feeling of rounding the last barrel and racing towards the finish line with his cowboy hat waving in the air. Throughout the conversation I found out that one of the men was from my hometown, and his eyes lit up as we excitedly conversed about all the traditions of this city. He even gave me a recipe and told me to make it for him. As I was telling them goodbye, one told me to never stop riding and keep up the hard work and the other told me to go home and watch the movie “Buck.” As promised, I went back to my hotel that night and watched this movie and it really made me appreciate the sport I love and the bond between horse and rider even more. This trip was the turning point of my life and since then I have come to understand myself and where I want to end up in my lifetime, which made the next vacation I went on even more special.

Last week, I was in Disney and went in with the intention of making connections with a few of the people I would be crowded with for the week. I can happily say that I did just that. I found a new love for the different cultures that you can experience in Disney World and my focus shifted from the thrill seeking rides to the cultures I had never been able to witness before. I watched an African man play a native game with a young boy and chatted with market owners in Morocco. I listened to an American group sing their hearts out and learned some Chinese from an exuberant cashier. As explained in my last blog post, my heart was touched by my waiter at an upscale restaurant. This man was working in the “happiest place on earth” but still had such high hopes for his future and did everything he could to encourage me to make my life better than his. He told me to never stop drawing, dreaming, and helping those around me. I met another man in the last place I would have expected, a foodcourt. He was also the last person in the entire building I though would come up to me and strike up a conversation. He was a large bodybuilder and was covered in tattoos, which I was very intrigued by. We bonded over a soft drink dispenser that just wouldn’t seem to give us our root beer. He complimented me on the henna I had on the arm and proceeded to tell me that he had been looking for about 3 years for a specific woman to do his wife’s henna. On the last day, I asked a man to take my picture in front of a beautiful waterfall and as he handed my phone back to me, he told me that he loves my smile and that I should keep doing it. Within the next 10 seconds, another man walks by me and says “I need to get a hat like that” and pointed to the Minnie ears I was wearing. Another older man in the airport let my family and I go on the plane before him because my mother was in a wheelchair. This man was elderly and had children with him, yet he still let us board the plane ahead of him.

My point is that people are amazing. Sure, there are always going to be annoying people that do and say stupid things, but they make you realize that the truly radiant people in this world are a breath of fresh air.

Epiphany

My faith has been restored-my faith in people, the future, my dreams, and God. I met a beautiful man at dinner at the California Grill in the Contemporary (in Disney). He was our waiter, one of those very funny and personable waiters; we got into a deep conversation over sushi and kept on bothering him with questions. At the end of the meal, he asked me what grade I’m in and if I know how to write in cursive. I said I don’t since it’s pretty bad, and he told me that I at least need to have a nice signature. Somehow it came out that I am an artist (or so I consider myself) and he lit up. He grabbed a pad of paper, scribbled down the title of a book, and an inspirational message (followed by his very nice signature). He proceeded to give me a speech on how I should always follow my dreams but never forget my humanity and to always help out in some way-whether it be at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. He told me that 2 things matter in school: character and grades (scholarships). He told me that the world can never have enough artists and that I should treat my art like a job that I work at every day. He explained how he himself is an artist and a writer, but had to give up his writing lately due to surgeries to fix problems he acquired from war. Today was his 20th anniversary and although he’s very happy with his current job, he wanted go accomplish more and was going to LA to get a jumpstart. All in all, this man solidified the feelings and ideas that I’ve been having for a while. Right before this dinner I was actually explaining to a friend going through a rough time that God is always with us and working in our lives, even if we don’t yet see what He’s doing. While standing in the shower the realization that God is basically screaming in my face hit me so hard I broke down crying. It couldn’t be clearer that this man was an angel sent to me and that God desperately wants me to follow my ambitious dreams, create art, and inspire people. Lately I’ve had a lot of trouble with being torn between these dreams and the “reality” that our society is feeding us, but now I’ve fallen into a peaceful state. I have faith that God has a plan, and He will continue to send me signs to keep me on the right path. Now that my eyes have been opened, I have faith that the future is bright and my dreams can be reality. Thank you, I hope we meet again, and I will use it. 2-7-16

Fear #1-What if

What if?

What if one day the things you used to love about me become the things you can’t stand?

What if

“I love her smile. I love her hair. I love her knees. I love how she licks her lips before she talks. I love her heart-shaped birthmark on her neck. I love it when she sleeps”

turns into

“I hate her crooked teeth. I hate her knobby knees. I hate the way she smacks her lips before she talks. I hate her cockroach-shaped splotch on her neck. I hate the way she sounds when she laughs”?

I can’t stand to think of the day that my strong will turns into an uncompromisable argument day after day. Or the day my endearing adrenaline chasing spirit turns into an uncontrollable whirlwind. Or the day when you decide I’m not worth the trouble. The day you realize that I’m the reason for the split between you and your family will be the first time your eyes will truly see me for the wall creating-argument starting-grief causing burden that I am.

Today you look at me with nothing but love as you stroke the hair I impulsively chopped off myself and kiss the strange birthmark on my forehead, but what does tomorrow hold? Today you love these things about me but what if one day you realize that the faults outweigh the perks. Hard times will come and I don’t know if we’ll be able to stand the test of time. We’ve gone over a year without a single major fight but it’s going to happen.

You look around and see all the marriages that end in divorce and you can’t help but wonder why no one stays together anymore. We’re an impulsive generation and my biggest fear is that the person I love will wake up one morning and get one of these impulses.

To the one I love, I trust you with my heart and soul, and you’ll always have a place in my heart, but I can’t help these late night thoughts from clouding my vision.

What if one day the things you used to love about me become the things you can’t stand?

What if?

On anniversaries

I feel like this perfectly puts into words how and why we should make small moments more meaningful than big ones-even moments as big as anniversaries.

the love story project

“Are you disappointed?” he said, as we heaped pineapple fried rice onto our plates. “Do you feel like this is not special enough?”

My partner and I celebrated our first relationship anniversary last weekend. I’d never celebrated an anniversary before, and, while it did not feel particularly special to be sitting at my kitchen table in yoga pants eating Thai food, I wasn’t sure that I really cared about specialness. “What’s really the point of an anniversary anyway?” I asked through a mouthful of pad see ew, “To say we managed not to break up this year?”

“No. It’s like: ‘Hey, you’re special to me. Let’s celebrate this thing we created,'” he said.

It’s not that I needed him to defend the idea of an anniversary to me (though I appreciated his willingness to do so), it’s that sometimes I feel it’s my job to maintain skepticism when it comes to the rituals…

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Toxic Love

It starts off as a burning inferno. An unquenchable wildfire. An infectious disease shared between two bodies. A constant loop of deep conversations, affection, and fiery passion.

They move fast-probably too fast. Within a month the mere fifteen year olds had already formed a deep spiritual bond. Their hearts were connected in a way that no one around them could ever understand. One look at them and you could see that they shared a soul, only it was split between two bodies. They could have an entire conversation with a glance, and they couldn’t go more than a few minutes without touching base with each other-even the grazing of their pinkies could keep them grounded.

His family adopted her as their own and she came to see his house as a safe haven from the ever-present eyes she was met with at her own. She finally found someone she could tell everything to-whether it be rants about that one girl she couldn’t stand at school or her ambitious plans for the future.

When times got hard for him, she was there countless nights to talk him into sticking around just a little longer-for her. He’d do anything for her, therefore, he would oblige. She’d pull him through the hardest times of his life, giving her a reason to make it through her own rough patches. They fought through relentless weeks of school, sports, and parents and set their sights on the weekends. The weekends were when time seemed to stop. They spent countless hours staring into each others eyes and soaking in each other’s presence, never completely convinced that they had actually made it through the week.

When they weren’t talking with their eyes or their words, they were talking with their bodies and their lips which never seemed to leave each other. Hands grasping at each other, grasping for something to hold onto as the world was seemingly falling apart around them. First, the hands would be tender and affectionate accompanied by to softest of kisses that only stopped when one of them began smiling too much, then the hands would quicken and tear into the other’s skin while the kisses would become frantic, only ceasing to gasp for air. At the end of it all they would lie together and discuss how they couldn’t imagine a world without each other.

Her every thought was consumed by him and the simplest things brought him to mind-from the sky that reminded her of his crystal blue eyes to the sight of a father playing with his children which made her hopeful for a future with him. They could sit together in silence and feel completely comfortable and at home. His arms became her favorite place to be and her smile became his favorite thing to see, with most of efforts going to provoking this smile.

The girl tried to slow things down once she realized how quickly he was going but she soon gave in. All of the things they were experiencing were completely new to them. They had both been in multiple relationships that were completely inferior to the one they now shared. They were young and drunk. Drunk on each other. Drunk on love. Drunk on life.

Within a few months they were hopelessly and completely in love. Neither of them said this but they knew it was there; everyone could see the love they shared. But would their love, the love that was ignited as swiftly as a wildfire and spread similarly, fizzle out as quickly as smoke rises and disperses into the atmosphere or burn in the form of an eternal flame? Their love was toxic, but would it poison them for better or for worse?

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