A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Your Life Descent… November 18, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration and Motivation — italicana kitchen @ 10:16 pm
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If your life was a movie what would you want to watch? If your life was a story what would you want to read? If you think of life this way…that with each second a camera is watching you…a pen is writing what you are doing, you may choose you actions differently. Life is not a dress rehearsal. There is no practice. You need to perform as though you are enacting the grand finale each and every day. Because in all actuality it could be. The crude fact of life is that you may die any second of any day. There is no certainty. Life is like water. Some days it may flow, others it may freeze, and still others it may dry up into nothing. There is no control over what happens to you–whether you become rain, hail, snow, or vapor–but you can choose that in the moments before outside forces enact on who and what you are, you lived your life to the fullest, and made the most of what you were in those moments you fell from the sky.

Life is simple. In the end, you blend into the trillion snowflakes that have fallen before you, the million balls of crystallized ice that have covered the ground, or the uncountable raindrops that have splashed across nameless faces on a warm summer’s night. When you touch your final destination, you become just like everyone else….but as you are falling from the sky, no matter what form or shape you take, you have control of how you fall. Slow…fast…gently… abruptly. You may not be able to change your size, texture or form, but you certainly can alter one thing…your descent.  It is up to you and only you on how you want to fall from the sky and what kind of imprint you want to leave on the ground below.

 

Be Madly in Love November 9, 2009

When love is not madness, it is not love. –Pedko Calderon De La Barca

Unfortunately, many couples forget this. And, these words, written over 300 years ago during the Spanish Golden Age are starting to lose their color like black ink fading on paper, after awhile what was once written with emotion and passion is fading away to the sterile color of a hospital wall. Love is slowly becoming orderly. Love is becoming contained.

For the mass, we wrap up our love in nice little boxes with big red bows at Christmas, boxes of chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day, and maybe something a touch more personal for the birthday. It’s sweet. It’s appreciated. Yet, it’s expected and mundane.

I was talking with my Italian friend the other night and he was telling me about his long distance relationship with a girl living in England. Every Friday night after work he would board a plane and set off to London for the weekend, returning early Monday morning to start another week of work.  I thought it was rather sweet that each weekend, he would buy a cheap euro-flight and a spend a few hours traveling in order to share three nights with his lover. And, in my mind, the time/money he spent was completely worth the three days with a loved one.

But, when he also told me that he would leave every Wednesday night after work, fly to London just for dinner and leave again the next morning at 6:00a.m. to catch his flight home and drive directly to work….well, folks, now, that is just plain madness. And, that wasn’t a one time ordeal, but a ritualized travel excursion that continued for over a period of five months!

“WHAT are you thinking spending all of that money and time just for one night together? That is just madness!” I exclaimed in disbelief.

His eyes lit up, a smile broke out. He didn’t have to say a word.

Then, I understood.  Yes, it was madness….it was love.

 

Remember this:: At Least You’re Living October 27, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration and Motivation — italicana kitchen @ 8:45 pm
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You’re mental state relies on your attitude. If you think positively, you have the power to do anything you want. Your mind is free to create, imagine and enjoy the things around you.  You are able to give your full attention and live in the moment.  When you think negatively; however, it is like a thick metal curtain spiraling down in front of you, blocking your thoughts, your actions, your ability to learn and above all, your ability to enjoy the experience you are in.

Negative thoughts are bound to enter your mind, like weeds in a garden. It’s just part of life.  To keep your garden alive and fruitful, however, one needs to be watchful, attentive and put in some hard work to keep the weeds from seeding and taking over everything you have planted and are trying to grow.  That is the same with your mental state, when negative thoughts pop into your head you need to actively pluck them from where they are before they become rooted in your mind.

Last year during the world trip, Mark, then later Suzanne and I, worked to keep life in perspective. Things didn’t always go correctly.  From missing a train to riding on a bus for 24 hours; from finding our room infested with cockroaches to a pickpocket stealing Suzanne’s wallet—we always tried to keep our problems in perspective. Our trick?  To repeat this little phrase when anything went wrong:  and…we’re not working. Whatever the situation…bring it on, we’d face our problem with a smile on our face because we knew that usually we’d have a good story to tell later on.

But, now that I am back to the real world, what is my little phrase to keep life’s problems from getting me down?  I repeat, this: and…at least I’m living. Regardless of the problems I have, at least I’m alive to have them. We are all going to die in a 100 years or less, so why not just focus on enjoying the days we have, laughing at life’s challenges and just be thankful to being alive to experience them.

 

Think Like A Kid October 24, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration and Motivation — italicana kitchen @ 2:37 pm
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No matter how old you are, how much life you’ve experienced, or how wise you think you are, you can always learn something from children.  One lesson that was reinforced to me the other day was to: stop thinking so much and just start!

What an easy concept but often in our big adult heads we forget about this simple phrase, and instead of doing we get stuck in the mode of merely thinking of doing because we are either too afraid, insecure, busy, unsure or wanting to perfect the task at hand. Thus, consequently, what we should or want to do, doesn’t get done.

Have you ever painted a picture with a child? Have you noticed that while you sit there with the paintbrush in your hand staring at the blank white piece of paper trying to think of the “perfect image to paint”, the child has already begun and is in fact almost half way done by the time you start?  Why is that? Why are children so quick to start things?

The answer: because they don’t worry about being perfect. Children aren’t perfectionists, they are merely themselves.  They are the untucked shirt, snot-nosed, hyper-active mini-monkeys that play, laugh, joke and create. They may be a little messy and rambunctious, but man do they have fun.

As we grow up we tend to upgrade our appearance and sanitary habits for the better; however, we unfortunately lose part of our spunk, our spark.  So, if you feel a little stagnant lately quick thinking so much.  And, instead, simplify things by thinking like a kid and just start.  If you put into action whatever it is that you’ve been thinking about doing, that little spark might just turn into a roaring fire.

 

Living life like a Mayfly October 7, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration and Motivation — italicana kitchen @ 5:37 pm
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The average lifespan of a human is eighty years. We are born…we live…then we die. That is the nature of our existence on earth (as for life beyond earth, that is a completely different topic and one I won’t get into here…)

Yet, eighty, this number what does it represent? The answer? Time. This is the average amount of time that most of us will have on this earth baring a premature death caused by nature, disease, accident or an act of violence. So given that we both are alive right now–I am typing this blogpost and you are reading it–we are fortunate to have survived another day and continue living towards that time marker.

Do you think eighty is a large number? Imagine eighty sleek super jets lined up on a runway or eighty warm apple pies stacked on your kitchen table. Eighty is a big number. When we think of these objects, eighty seems like a lot. We have eighty years–many years–so we tend to plan accordingly. We push the things we want to do today down our timeline like one would the tiny white scoreballs on a foosball table. Not today…slide…tomorrow. Not tomorrow…slide…in five years. Not in five years…slide…when I am retired. Before we know it, we have pushed everything we’ve wanted to do to our final years of life because we have a lot. We have eighty by all means!

But, what if the human race was more like our closely related neighbor, the chimpanzee whose lifespan is only forty years. That is half the life expectancy you have now. What things about your life would you do different? What things would you change?

Now, cut that in half again and we are at twenty years, the life expectancy of a penguin. I am 26. I would hypothetically be dead right now. In my first twenty years of my life did I try to do everything I wanted? What would I have changed if I were to relive them all over again? What would I have done differently if that was all that I was given?

Now, let’s talk about the lifespan of a Mayfly. This beautiful little insect experiences our world for 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the species. That is their fate. That is there window of opportunity to experience life on earth before they die.

So, what if human life expectancy was the same? What if scientist’s framed our average life expectancy to 30 minutes to 24 hours, instead of 80 years? Would that change the way we think about our time? Would that change the actions we make in life?

What did you do for the last 30 minutes to 24 hours? Are you content with how you passed your time? Or, are there things you would change? Ask yourself this simple question every half hour, or at the end of each day. Imagine that your lifespan is that of a Mayfly and strive to live life with a fiery of passion to experience the day to its fullest, love with intensity and richness and use the time you are given to do the things that mean the most to you, because, right now, these moments are the only secure time you have.

 

Truth through Simplicity September 23, 2009

There is something about the sense of freedom and adventure that makes my heart jump and wild butterflies soar around my tummy like that of a first kiss. The idea of letting everything go and falling into the unknown is exhilarating–it makes me feel present in this world, it makes me feel alive.

Small things can spark these feelings of liberation: a powerful push of a car’s accelerator, an unexplored hiking trail, a secluded swimming cove or even a simply designed movie poster.

“What is so special about this movie poster?” one may ask, “it is just a house suspended in air by a bunch of balloons.”

“Oh, my dear friend,” I would like to say. “This illustration represents freedom. Imagine for a moment that you could just leave everything behind and explore the world. And, not even in the traditional sense–you wouldn’t need to go through all of today’s politics of selling your house, packing your things, organizing your accounts–oh no, you could simply tie balloons to your house, lift off and be gone. No hassle. No fuss. Simply–a flight of freedom.”

Now I haven’t yet seen the film–it will be released next month in Italy–but, you can bet that I will be one of the first customers in line when the ticket booth opens. Like Disney/Pixar’s last film WALL-E which contains important messages regarding environmental destruction, reliance on technology and obesity; Up also contains messages about today’s American society, and specifically about our common state of thinking in the Future instead of thinking in the Now.

In this story, Carl and Ellie meet as children, fall in love, are inseparable throughout adulthood and share the same dream from when they were young–to explore the South American jungles. But, jobs, health issues and daily life get in the way and before Carl knows it he is old and widowed and has yet to fulfill his dream. Yet, although life sometimes gets away from us, there is always the Now to make a change. And, at 78, Carl decides that Now is the only time he has. So geared with thousands of balloons tied to his house, he let’s himself be lifted UP…UP…and AWAY, to start his adventure and to finally live out his dream.

This message, although told through a simple animated film, is an important one. Each day we have the opportunity to live life how we want to live, yet many of us let go of the balloon we hold in our hands–our dreams–to fulfill the practical side of life with the intention that “someday I can hold start living, someday I can hold that balloon again.”  But, this is pure madness. You don’t hold in your hand, “someday”, you hold in your hand “now.” That is all you have or will ever have. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Think about your dreams. Don’t let them float away like a stray balloon; instead, take those dreams, hold them tight, and let them carry you UP.

 

Belief September 19, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration and Motivation — italicana kitchen @ 3:49 pm
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Do you ever feel like you are treading water through life? You are working as hard as you can just to stay afloat but in return you are just exhausting yourself? Instead of swimming for the exercise or towards a destination you go nowhere. Or, instead of lying on the surface of the water and letting yourself relax and float, you stay rigid, body half immersed in the water, head cocked up looking in each direction while just kicking your feet. Life becomes neither an adventure or a comfort, instead it becomes a constant struggle just to live and at some point it seems almost easier to just let go and let yourself sink.

After a few months of treading water where I was exhausting myself but going nowhere, I let myself sink. I stopped writing. I stopped studying. I stopped dreaming. I stopped pursuing. And, instead, I started analyzing. I started critiquing. I started doubting. I started diminishing my goals and choices. And instead of filling my mind with productive thoughts, using my mind for creative outlets…I questioned myself: what is the point? What is the point of writing a book? What is the point of learning a language? What is the point of constantly challenging myself when I could just relax and lead a life of indifference?

But, a life of indifference is a life without belief. And, a life without belief is a hollow existence. Belief gives meaning to the day’s otherwise trivial events–because when it comes down to it, life is just life. But, when you believe in life, when you believe that the things you are doing are important than life itself becomes a life of purpose, not just a life spent treading water.

If you believe in the choices you make, you will find satisfaction with your results.  And, if you aren’t sure about the choices you are making then change perspectives or alter your beliefs–just don’t lose your ability to believe in something because that takes away the happiness of living.  For example, look at children when they play, they seem to always be happy and it’s not  because of the toy they are holding in their hands that makes them laugh and smile, but rather the belief they have in that toy to be something they created with their imagination. The toy car becomes the get-away car for their JI Joe or the toy doll becomes a magical fairy that flies through the clouds.  The object it not significant, rather the belief in what that object can do makes it significant.  

Children make the world how they want it to find happiness. So can you. Get interested in something, and believe in what you are doing. Instead of spending your time living, why not spend your time creating?