Saturday, May 12, 2012

A trip to the ocean

They say our average attention span when we're online is 8 seconds. At the moment, I'm doing an experiment to confirm that theory. (Are you still reading this?) I'm attending a 7-hour-long online orientation for my upcoming study abroad trip. By "attending," I really mean writing a blog post, tuning out the important information about state department evacuation in case of emergency, giggling at the warnings against falling in love with taxi drivers (really?!), cringing at the thought of washing all my clothes by hand, and rolling my eyes because I don't need to be told not to eat at Burger King.

If you've been reading my weekly posts, then you know that I normally try to have a theme for each one. I'm finding that since I've started doing this, my weeks themselves seem to have themes, since I'm constantly making mental notes, monitoring nebulous networks of loosely connected ideas as the links between them become stronger, until they self-assemble, crystallizing almost on their own until my post has virtually written itself. I really hate when people say that everything happens for a reason, but since I've started blogging, coincidences seem to arise more often than usual. The hammer-nail phenomenon. Like dead celebrities, they come in threes:

I heard a story the other day about a mother preparing to take her young son to the ocean. She was trying to get him to eat his cereal, brush his teeth, and put on sunscreen, but the boy was refusing to do these things, whining, "But I want to go to the ocean!" Finally, the mother reached her boiling point, and raised her voice. "This is what going to the ocean looks like!" 

I got to go camping at the beach this week. Fortunately, my version of going to the ocean does not look like a 7-year-old brushing his teeth, though it does involve crappy firewood from 7-11, really f***ing loud birds at 5 am, and obnoxious traffic on the 880. (Thanks to my Canadian ex for my inability to refer to freeways without using the definite article.) It looks more like this:

Another one bites the dust. A friend of mine who is also getting ready to travel overseas said, "I want to tell you that everything's great, because it is. But it feels horrible." Yes. This is true. Things can feel horrible when they're great, and they can feel great when they're horrible.

The final dead celebrity came in the form of more advice from previously mentioned Wise Friend. "Think about what it is that you want," she said. "Then think about what it is you're trying to get. Keep in mind that those are two different things." (She's wise, huh?) Maybe we're culturally conditioned to ask, "When will I get what I want?" So ask that, if you want. But then ask, "What is it that I want?" If we can answer this question honestly, we might find that we already have it.

While talking to my doctor the other day, with these child-cereal-ocean and my-life's-great-and-I-hate-it mental processes running in the background, I realized that I really do have what I want. I'll be spending the summer in the Middle East with a great scholarship, I am going back to grad school in the fall to study something I love, and I have friends and family that are very supportive. Yes, it's also true that the moving process sucks. (This one's a logistic migraine.) And that gas costs $4.25. Yes, there are some people who are doing things wrong, and I wish I could control them via remote, but I can't (yet). But... This is what getting what I want looks like!

And I'll take it. Gladly.

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