Spain: an Afterward

I’ve spent the three weeks since returning from Spain trying to explain what I feel and how I’ve changed. And after all this time I’m not much closer to an answer. I was warned repeatedly that reverse culture shock coming back can be worse than when you enter a new country. I guess I didn’t believe it.. Missouri has been home for 21 years, how could it hurt me? now I think I understand, because strangely it doesn’t feel like home. These surroundings are familiar perhaps, though certainly not normal.

When I went to Spain the shock I encountered could be attributed to fear of the unknown. Here I can’t do that, there’s nothing new to blame. The result is that I feel absolutely lost. It’s like reaching for something you routinely use and it being out of place; what’s more, you’re not sure exactly where you expected it to be. my whole life is here, yet something is not quite right. Like it’s shifted out of place, and I don’t know how it should be.

I made a mistake. I returned and expected to pick up my life right where I left it in January. The truth is that I can’t because I’m just not the same person. I’ve grown in both perspective and experience. Those are now parts of me that cannot be packed away. Yet these gains have not been without loss. Somewhere outside my comfort zone I surrendered my sense of home. In the long run that will likely be a good thing, for now it’s enough to know that it’s okay.

There’s two things I learned from my short time studying abroad that I will carry forward. The first is that home is a fluid concept. Anywhere can be home if we make it so, it is something we constantly recreate. The other is how concrete our sense of belonging can become. You see, belonging is not tied to a place, rather to the people with which we surround ourselves.

Enough of my rambling writing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my life is an uncertain balance. I can’t tell you exactly how I’ve changed. I definitely don’t have a grasp of my emotions. What I do know is that I’m capable of making anywhere home; and that if I surround myself with the right people, I can face any uncertainty that each day brings.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Write something

Don’t forget to write. Something, anything. Set the pen to the paper and let the rhythm of your mind do the rest. It’s simply not that hard, just let it happen. Though I should warn you there is a chance you’ll end up reaching deep inside and pull on the strings you’ve tucked away. And that’ll hurt, fortunately the resulting beauty is always more powerful than the pain. Don’t forget to write, Because in the end the words will escape somehow. Don’t forget to write. Because at least this way you still have some control over what the words say.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Before the Tempest

Stand on the verge of the precipice

Prepare for what is to come.

In my heart I hope that I am ready

a storm rising in the West,

a wind in the valley below,

the results of a tumultuous spring

Again waging the revolution of life.

See the crash of light,

and the Fearsome dance goes on,

the inevitable Fight of time

Immovable forces forever tumble in the night

the risk is real, exposed as I am

unnoticeable to the tempest

Still I remain, standing here

taunting the beasts I face

“Is that all you can do?!”


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

an Eventful day in Madrid

Check out the story I just posted over on TalesofSpain, while you’re there take a look at what my classmates and I are experiencing here in Spain…

Tales of Spain

Woke up late Saturday morning excited for a day in Madrid. The plan was to meet up with some friends at their hotel and then go see the Palacio Real. A simple enough plan that left plenty of room for error. The first step was the commuter train from Alcalá to Atocha station in Madrid. An easy trip that I can quite literally do in my sleep. From Atocha I switched to the metro system. With map in hand I successfully made my two connections and was just looking for my final stop. Unfortunately I had misread the directions that I’d been given and ended near Coslada almost halfway back to Alcalá. Of course, leaving the metro to look for the hotel, I didn’t realize right away. Finally after walking around for a good half hour, I finally found the street I thought I needed only for it to dead…

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Spain: a new Self

I’ve been living in Spain for nearly four weeks now. And it has been a rollercoaster of an experience so far. I have seen more fascinating sights than I could’ve expected, and I’m nowhere near done. These ups have not been without their downs. Seemingly everything is different than life in my small midwest town. My senses constantly overwhelmed. As of yet, there have been a few really bad episodes of culture shock. At a certain point you become physically done with the novelty. For me, it usually centers around my lack of language skills and the necessity to rely on other people. The reality of vulnerability. It has been painful at times.

One thought that is comforting is the vast new perspective I’m gaining of myself. It reminds me of a quote from Doctor Who,

“We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people all throughout our lives. And that’s ok; that’s good. You gotta keep moving so long as you remember all the people you used to be.” –The Doctor

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m leaving bits and pieces of who I was all over Spain. This semester is taking from me, and that is the best situation I can hope for. It allows for a new mindset, gives me a chance to fill in those holes with what I need to carry me forward.

Soon I’ll find myself back at that beautiful, familiar farm where I grew up. Will it recognize me? I know that I’ll be a different person. I know that everyday here, all the way to the end, will be a struggle. When I return to Missouri it will also be a struggle. I’ve learned there is no such thing as normal, and that is what I wake up every morning to face. Knowing that I am constantly recreating myself for the better.

Peace, Love, and Happiness… blogdoctorwho

–Joe

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Twenty-One

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I turned 21 on a street corner

a discreet place to grow old

conversing of mecca & happenstance

Our words foreign to the place.

Beyond me lays a world yet unknown,

piece by piece I strive to comprehend.

Though not a child of the Spanish son

adopted by the indifference of night

As I turn 21 on a street corner


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Gentleman & a Scholar

There’s a, shall we say experienced, man I know who when you do him a favor will refer to you as a “gentleman and a scholar.” This is definitely a phrase of the past, one of those expressions we are worse off for losing. Though we brush it off as an oddity, he intends it as the utmost compliment. What does it mean to be a gentleman and a scholar? my belief is that if we can master the traits of these two characteristics, then we can vastly improve our little portion of the world. Let’s see if we can break this down.

gentleman

At a time in history when incredible numbers of people are earning higher degrees, and an increasing number of jobs look at credentials both first and last. We have lost the concept of scholarship. Sitting in a classroom for four years and passing the correct number of tests does not guarantee quality work in a future career. So why do I, and so many others, pursue this way of life? I will not speak for my classmates. Though as for me I study not so as to grasp a choice career, rather with aspirations of knowledge. I want to practice learning. The hope is that beyond my lectures and tests I will be able to continue the pursuit of knowledge. To always remain a student. Being a scholar only requires a slight adjustment of perspective, and is the easier component to achieve. Far more difficult are the traits of a gentleman.

It’s easy to sound elitist with words such as, “pursuit of knowledge” and “practice learning.” Knowing more than the next guy could make you feel powerful. Unfortunately we’ve all met a snobbish academic. maybe that’s why we quit trying to be scholars. This is definitely why it is important to be both a gentleman and a scholar. A scholar is familiar with the world from the inside out. A gentleman is humble about it. He knows his place. And if he finds himself more capable in some regard than another, then he takes it on himself to share what he has. Because a gentle person cares about you. They will tell you what they mean, and they are always true to their word.

So then let’s all attempt to adopt the traits of a gentleman and a scholar. It’s about working hard to Bemore. It’s about bettering ourselves, and giving ourselves to others.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Author’s note: For my sensitive readers, when I say “traits of a gentleman” it’s not meant to be exclusionary. This applies to all of us

Status Quo

Your silence is deafening

does it help you see?

If so, your actions scream indifference.

How could you witness this,

and not do anything?

.

I understand The fear.

the Fear of fronting the wrong words

Is that who you are?

A man forever positioned

by the primal force of fear

.

No! I believe you can Be more

you are well-versed

in the ways of refined words

Yet your silence permeates your soul

You choose to not declare a single thought.

.

Tradition holds silence as a form of consent,

permission to the status quo

are you absolutely Fine with that?

Yes, Each word we choose has an impact

though not nearly the power of our silence.


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a Treaty on character

Authentic. Trusting. Passionate.

We live in a culture that no longer values putting an honest image of yourself out there. Preferring for each of us to fit a preset mold. most often this causes us to wear a view of ourselves that is far from the truth. The authenticity that I seek is contrary to this cultural norm. I choose to pursue the entirety of who I am. and not just the most convenient parts. Fully aware that pieces of who I am are faults. And while I will try to overcome said issues, I refuse to hide them from view. We are best as a whole person. To disregard our blemishes is a hindrance to the truth. A lie that damages us most of all. St. Irenaeus told us, “The glory of God is human being fully alive.” We cannot hope to become fully alive if we do not accept who we are. So I choose to be authentic. To show the world my whole self, the good with the bad.

everyday we are surrounded by individuals who give us no reason to trust them, or worse, give us reason not to.It’s easy to walk through life wary of every step and each character we meet. not only is it convenient, but also the safer route. We are more likely to come to a gentle rest at the end of our days if we have kept to ourselves. Unfortunately, though it be a softer landing, it will most certainly be lonelier. Therefore it is in our interest to trust others. To bring them into our inner circle. The trouble with this is that we feel an obligation to protect those we hold close. This becomes difficult the more trust we give away. Regardless, we must simply do our best to trust them all and embrace the consequences. Now I do not wish for you to think me naive, I know that my trust will be misplaced often. Yet if I must error it will be in favor of an innocent trust. I believe that every person deserves my respect, and so I choose to begin at the top of that spectrum. I will trust.

Both Shakespeare’s King Leer and the Greek philosopher Parmenide Proclaim Nihil Fit Ex Nihilo, that is “nothing comes from nothing.” This continues to hold true to this day. If you want something you have to put the effort in. I am part of a generation oft associated with demanding the world be handed to us. Welfare babies and laissez faire workers. We are millenials. And still we are the generation with the most potential to change the world. Passion is about pushing the envelope. A passionate person cannot afford half measures. To be passionate is to envision what it takes to complete the task. The pain, frustration, and sacrifice that passion requires is enormous. The guiding light is that the rewards of these are limited only by our imaginations and the effort we put forth.

It is my desire that these will define who I am. Authenticity boils down to fully being the person you are. Trust is simply loving each person for who they are. Passion is a commitment to what we love, and a rejection of half measures. These I’ll strive for today, tomorrow, and after that.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

be more Poetic

nowadays we all talk about loving yourself. That’s good and great and all, though it’s an incomplete idea. Often we choose to overlook our flaws and problems as part of a beautiful whole. It is a betrayal of what has shaped us into who we are. The reality is that it is entirely possible to follow the popular sentiment of “loving yourself” and still acknowledge the rough parts that got you where you are. For myself, I appreciate everything that comprises who I am, but I also recognize that some of it is not so great. Some of it is down right awful and needs to be done away with.

So long as we’re going to be spend all this time being introspective we might as well consider ourselves in the future tense. There lies all our hopes, dreams, and visions. It is there that we can go beyond who we are now because future us contains all possibilities. I encourage you to try this. I encourage you to dream. You’ll find it makes you poetic about yourself. In turn that helps you be poetic about your past and present also. And just maybe you’ll discover there’s beauty in the light and the dark.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

dreamer