Living in the Now
Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how I want to live my life. I have a notion of what that looks like after college, but my lifestyle now doesn’t reflect that. Perhaps this has to do with a hesitancy to box myself in before experiencing all the new opportunities college has to offer, but I am inclined to think it has more to do with the notion of constraints. Whether it be set class times and schedules or limited financial resources, there are some things which play a major role in shaping my daily life, but that I am unable to change without diverting some major life trajectories.
However, constraints such as these will probably never go away, but rather shift from one form to another. Children are constrained from driving themselves wherever they please, but are free from many social pressures facing adults, and vice versa. The list goes on, but the main takeaway is that the majority of most people's lives will be lived in environments with numerous limitations. Although lots of people in our society make decisions, which to some extent, lead them to their current situation, once they are in the moment they have to relinquish some control in order to begin functioning normally.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that it is impossible to take responsibility for your life, or to live in a manner aligned with your interests and values. Rather, you must simply learn to do so within your personal boundaries. Want to own a tea shop but are currently limited by the cost of education? Why not start a tea club instead, and get your college to help fund you? Like the notion of working as a chef but don't have skills or time to go back to school? Start a cooking group where your friends get free food and you can practice new techniques you learn on Youtube. Want to explore the world and regain that sense of childish wonder at all this beautiful planet has to offer? Try being a tourist in your hometown, going down new streets and leaving your usual favorite activities to try something new. Chances are there is plenty of wonder to be found close by if you just know how to look.
Regardless of what your passions are, there is probably some way in which you can either enjoy them at a smaller scale, or begin making progress now, instead of waiting for some day when conditions are more ideal. Now certainly some constraints are hard to work around— you might love traveling to far away locales, but are tied down by the need to support a family. Limitations from educational background or socioeconomic status are very real, and can be incredibly difficult to surmount. The key isn't putting off your goals in the hope of one day winning the lottery and quitting your job, but rather shifting your perspective to understand how you can build these interests into your daily routine in a manner aligned with your core values. Yes, there are terrible things happening in the world, but for most people it is unrealistic to think you can immediately change systems which have been entrenched in society. Rather, focus on what you can control and try to make an impact there. By starting small and building as necessary, you can reduce your own burden while ensuring that the changes you make are impacting your own life and the lives of those around you as you originally intended.
While you may not be in complete control of your circumstances, you have the freedom to determine how you live within those bounds. So don't wait to live the life you want to lead! Explore your goals to the extent that you can. Maybe you'll find out it wasn't all you imagined it to be, and you can cross that goal off your list. Perhaps you’ll find that smaller scale fits you perfectly, or maybe you’ll reaffirm a commitment to achieving it at a larger scale. Whatever the case may be, you will be better off for having tried it.
As one of my favorite artists said, "I don't control life, but I can control how I react to it". And at the end of the day, that really is the best you can do.
Photo is of some berries from my host family's Schrebergarten (means city garden plot in German, used to allow people in apartments to get out and garden or enjoy nature) in Hamburg this past summer. The small ones are red and black currants and the larger ones are green and red gooseberries. My host mom made a salad and we enjoyed the freshly picked berries for dessert. The quote comes from the song "Vipassana" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.