We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its too rapid flight. We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of times that are not and blindly flee the only one that is. The fact is that the present usually hurts. We thrust it out of sight because it distresses us, and if we find it enjoyable, we are sorry to see it slip away. We try to give it the support of the future, and think how we are going to arrange things over which we have no control for a time we can never be sure of reaching.

Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light it throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.

I’m reading Pascal’s Pensées for one of my classes and this passage hit me like a ton of bricks. How poignant, how important, how true. I have been struggling for years to live more in the present, desperately (and largely unsuccessfully) trying to wrangle my thoughts away from the depths of the past or the expanses of the future. I’ve always been a planner but I desperately long to be someone with more spontaneity, whimsy, and appreciation for the moment. College is an easy place to get lost in the past or the future and I’ve found myself thinking of these four years merely as a stepping stone that serves to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. It’s a toxic mindset. I’m pledging, starting now, to make a concerted effort to embrace the present. The future can wait.

 

November in Boston

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Sunday Snippets

This semester has flown by. Hard to imagine that I’ll be 1/4 of the way finished with my undergraduate degree in less than two weeks. Here’s a brief smattering of photos I’ve taken with my iphone recently.

1. The reservoir near my college on a clear spring day

2. Pretty tree and sky outside my dorm

3. Boston Marathon participants

4. Gorgeous sunset outside my window

5. I don’t know what kind of tree this is, but I’m in love

6. Isn’t my campus so lovely and lush?

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in other news, I voted for the first time ever last week! Receiving my absentee ballot in the mail was thrilling and I had the best time researching the candidates and making my decisions. I voted AGAINST the proposed constitutional amendment aiming to make marriage between a man and a woman the only legally recognized domestic union in North Carolina. Read about the amendment and its consequences for all NC families here.

20 before 20

My 19th birthday was last week. I honestly cannot wrap my head around the idea that I’m a mere 12 months from being in my TWENTIES. It’s a little frightening. Oftentimes I still feel like such a child. Nevertheless, in the spirit of starting a fresh year full of exciting opportunities on this beautiful, crazy planet we call Earth, I’ve decided to make a list of 20 things I’d like to accomplish/do before my 20th birthday next March. Half bucket list, half New Year’s resolutions, here’s my 20 before 20 list:

1. Run a 10k race before the end of fall semester and start training for a half marathon in the spring

2. Visit two national parks

3. Summit Mount Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi River!)

4. Visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina 

5. Visit a new state

6. Spend an afternoon at the Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, NC

7. Walk the entire Freedom Trail in Boston

8. Make time for daily meditation, prayer, and journaling

9. Become a member of the Southern Historical Association

10. Language acquisition: maintain my Spanish, continue learning French, and consider learning German

11. Make a proper pair of jean cut off shorts

12. Learn how to tie dye using real dye (not just those silly kits)

13. Learn more about my camera (I have a Nikon D3100) and become a better photographer. Also, take photos more often

14. Blog more regularly

15. Reestablish my relationship with the mandolin: practice, learn new songs, maybe even bring it to school next year?

16. Apply to be Managing Editor of my university’s undergraduate research journal

17. Acquire an Undergraduate Research Fellowship

18. Spend an entire day without using any technology whatsoever

19. Go kayaking

20. See a drive-in movie

 

There you have it! Some silly things, some serious things, but all things that will (hopefully) be crossed off this list in a year’s time. 

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

A Reader’s Digest Account of Autumn

Such a shame that I’ve already become abominably unreliable about posting regular entries here. I promise to be better in the future! This fall has been chock full of all sorts of exciting adventures and experiences. Instead of writing a lengthy post about each occurrence, I’ll give you a brief recap of the past few months.

In late September a few friends and I went apple picking (a quintessential New England activity) in a small town west of Boston.

My roommate and I made an impetuous trip to Salem, MA on a crisp, sunny, Saturday in October.

Also in October, a few friends and I journeyed to New Hampshire where we summited Mt. Monadnock with our university’s Geology Club.

On October 27 it SNOWED! My first experience with October snow was absolutely delightful. The white stuff didn’t stick around for long, but it was joyous while it lasted. (Apologies for poor photo quality)

Halloween (my least favorite holiday of the year) brought more snow (!) and an opportunity to devise a witty costume. My friends and I went as Ctrl, Alt, Del, the classic keyboard command.

Here’s a continued list of fall activities that are unfortunately unaccompanied by photos:

  • I visited the Boston Museum of Science, where I rode a Segway for the first time (what an exciting and simultaneously terrifying five minutes).
  • I rode the T for the first time since 2000! Boston’s public transportation certainly leaves something to be desired, but it has its charm.
  • I consumed my first cannoli at the famous Mike’s Pastry in the North End. So decadent, so delicious.
  • I attended a professional performance of Candide (for free, I might add)
  • I watched the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform (also for free) an all-Brahms program and marveled at the ornate beauty of Symphony Hall.
  • I visited the New England Aquarium, where I coveted a countless number of adorable penguins and timidly touched a stingray (so slimy…)
  • I got conjunctivitis (in layman’s terms: pink eye) for the first time! A nasty cold also took up residence in my body roundabouts the same time. Being sick at college is terribly undesirable, although the nurses in the infirmary are quite friendly.

So that not one little piece of living is ever lost

I have an irrational fear that I will forget everything that has ever happened to me. I am terrified of losing memories and experiences and want desperately to preserve every taste, sight, sound, sensation, and thought. As a child I kept a thorough journal that documented even the most mundane aspects of my life, but with every passing year the entries became more sporadic and hastily written. In the spirit of being a mental pack-rat, I’ve decided to create this blog in hopes that it will serve as an archive of my mind and of my life – a way to eternally hold on to every little piece of living.

“Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” – Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn