the illusion of the ordinary

There is a different kind of beauty evident within me as I ponder and think with a tired mind. The more tired I am, the closer I am to my dreams. The closer I am to slumbering, the sooner it is that I will encounter my limitless state of perception. The walls of my conscious mind will then be broken down, and my unconscious will take control of my reality.

But I’m still awake. Barely.

It is often in this state of tiredness that I am met with some sort of profound realization. Perhaps I become increasingly aware of my blessings, or maybe I simply realize that my expectations for life are often unreasonably high, and things are simply too positive to merit my complaining.

Recently, my mind has been clinging to the idea of our perspective of miraculous and mind-boggling concepts that we consider normal. So, I have compiled a list of several obvious ideas that make my jaw drop:

1) The earth is spherical. It is incredible to me that as we drive long distances, we are driving against the curvature of our Earth. As we walk, each footstep is grazing our planet’s natural curve. We forget that our world is not flat, stretching from one “end” to another. We constantly imagine ourselves, without even realizing it, standing on the “top” of the world. In reality, if we took a line from the top of our head and stretched it infinitely beyond the atmosphere, the line would most likely be stretching from the side of the earth. So, essentially, we are not necessarily standing straight up, but rather sideways, or upside down, or diagonally… yet our visual perception deceives us and suggests that things are much more linear, organized, and directional.

2) Gravity. Each time I imagine a lack of gravity, I literally feel my throat tighten with fear as a result of my own imagination. But no–it’s actually incredibly interesting. Gravity is necessary to life as we know it. What if in another form or style of life, or another form of reality beyond our perception, gravity were not a concept? It could potentially pose no issue whatsoever. However, in our world, without gravity, what would exist as we know it? Everything in our reality is possible because of gravity, unless of course you’re an astronaut.

Here’s some food for thought: What if shapes, colors, senses, and communication were all abstract, senseless, distant ideas that did not define our perspective? How much of our reality is based upon these entities that are so paramount to our perception? (At least speaking from personal experience, I can confidently say that I don’t thank God for the shapes, colors, and senses that define my reality.)

3) Breathing. I find it intriguing and ridiculous that countless organisms are constantly and mindlessly participating in this process of breathing, without learning it, creating carbon dioxide (or oxygen, if you’re a plant or tree), and exchanging in this powerful reaction that drives life’s existence. It is within our biology to give to others as we contribute to providing an essential compound to another species.

4) We’re mammals. I’m convinced that we are the only species that writes and reads blogs, significantly values materialistic things, and finds such a high worth within the arts and aesthetics, but in many ways, we think we are more different than we truthfully are while comparing ourselves to other species. I’ll use horses as my primary example, because I know so much about them.

Horses have their own “government” rooted in herd behavior, in which they desire and attain power, or otherwise assume a more submissive role.

They have personalities, individual characteristics, differing physical traits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Horses communicate via their own language, rooted not only in various noises and vocal expression, but more so through body language and “sensing” what is going on around them. A horse can detect a human’s nerves solely based on body language.

And yes — horses wear special blankets and sheets, often with fashionable patterns and designs. Even other species wear clothes, sometimes (at least many pets and domesticated animals).

Of course, horses and humans are extremely different… but the similarities are certainly present.

5) Life is everywhere. Bacteria and germs are virtually everywhere, so technically, you’re never alone. While I certainly don’t recommend embracing the possible viruses that may be sitting on your hand after touching the buttons on your door handle, I’m utterly amazed with the idea that even small forms of life are constantly surrounding us. Despite their own extremely limited perception of the world, bacteria/germs live independent lives with a unique perspective. Life is beyond incredible.

The list goes on.

I challenge you to think about the most concrete, simple, ordinary idea, and view it through the lens of magnificence and awe.

Everything has the potential to be fascinating.

Everyone has the potential to be fascinated.

Advertisements

i’m afraid of you.

…and as I embark upon today’s writing adventure, I remind myself that the reason I write is not to formulate a perfectly organized post, but rather to use my words, in whatever haphazard form they may present themselves, to open my mind and connect with your heart, through my keyboard and your screen. Thank you for being here with me.

Especially recently, the themes that I have written about in the past are finding me in my life each day, in my most vulnerable and joyous moments. The swirling feelings, the profound blessings, the gratefulness (and the lack thereof), the support, the love, and even the rejection. I’ve been reminded by many people that life is a series of positives and negatives, my potential is not defined by another person’s evaluation of me as a person, the challenges are opportunities to increase one’s strength, and “we are blessed, dude. We truly are.”

The emotions that I’ve been feeling lately are indescribable. TUMULTUOUS. The past few weeks have felt tumultuous, including the moments of immense joy and laughter, the tears and stress, and the moments of neutrality and boredom that we all require to stay sane.

Truthfully, here’s what I’m thinking. You’re seriously stressing me out.

No, not you! I’m talking to the future – the entity that consists of every second that stands before us, every moment that we’re crawling into with each breath and blink, found within this linear spectrum of time that stretches into the unknown everything before us and beyond us. You scare me. So I’m going to write you a letter, so we can learn a bit more about each other. Maybe if you become my friend, I won’t fear you so much… because right now, you’re intimidating me, and I don’t like this inferiority complex.

Dear Future,

I’m Siena. You might know me because you’re constantly increasing my blood pressure as I complain to people about how I don’t know exactly who you are. Sometimes I wish I did, but I also understand you choose to keep your identity mysterious, and that’s probably for the best. Sorry for being afraid of you, unless that’s what you want…? Like I said, I don’t know you all that well, and I think you know me much more than I know you. But I have something to tell you: I don’t want to fear you anymore.

I spend every day thinking about you. You’ve even begun to distract me from the present moment, because I’m constantly thinking about what will, what might, what could, and what should.

Facetiously speaking, I also really love how deceiving you are. Just when I think one thing will happen, or I become comfortable and content with a possible reality, you change my mind, or you change your plans. (It can be a little annoying at times, but I secretly love it. It keeps me on my toes.)

But you’re beautiful. You really are. Every moment is a gradual climb to reaching you, to reaching the point in the future of which I am most curious, of which I am most afraid, of with which I am most enamored. The blessings that you encompass are frighteningly magnificent.

I remember that I must trust you, and trust God… and with that trust, the anxiety will subside, the gratefulness for the present moment will return, and the appreciation of life in its pure simplicity overwhelms all other stresses and qualms.

I hope we can start over, Future. Let’s try this again.

I’ll see you later.

Peace & blessings, Siena

235098198901239086019346.

Numbers. Too many of them. Everywhere.

These little curved shapes that look like letters with their lines and semi-circles and tails. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 0.

I remember sitting in a Catholic youth conference years ago with thousands of other teenagers, listening to an inspiring speaker tell us how she had let numbers define her throughout her entire life… and it didn’t take any effort to relate to her.

Numbers are beautiful, yes. It’s so fascinating that these characters enable us to grasp the idea of quantity, amount, and value. But numbers certainly shouldn’t define the essence of who we are.

How many times have we let them alter our perception of reality, our emotions, or even our happiness?

How many likes did my picture get? (Not enough, apparently. Not enough to be considered beautiful).

Your doctor just told you that your BMI is too high or low. (There goes your self-esteem.)

What grade did you get on that test? (You received a higher grade, therefore you are a better student than me, and will most likely succeed in life while I wallow in my failure).

Alright, alright, alright. I hope you caught onto my sarcasm.

In a society that is so constantly driven by numbers, I’m reminding you (and reminding myself) to resist allowing numbers to define you. They can lead us to lacking confidence, desiring change when it isn’t necessary, and feeling like we need to fix something that isn’t broken.

We are greater than the numbers that others assign to us, as well as the numbers we assign to ourselves. We are greater than our grade-point averages, our weights, our salaries, our savings, our home’s square footage, our social security numbers, our ages, and our numbers of cats.

We are beautiful. We are magnificent. We are intelligent. We are able. We are more than numbers.

We are human. Love life with me.

misery needs love.

We’ve all heard that famous saying misery loves company. We’ve all been the victim of misery, and we’ve all been subjected to anger, frustration, bitterness, and negativity both through our own emotions and through those of others.

On a slightly unrelated note (this will come full circle – I promise), January usually feels like a strange month to me. It’s the beginning of a new year, which is obvious, but I personally associate January with change, preparation, and something new. I also associate it with finals. Hm. So yes, January is a beautiful month (as are the other eleven), but I also notice a copious amount of stress. Sleep deprivation. Cram studying. Stressed individuals. Way too many compromised immune systems.

Yup. January. Some of January’s traits, at least in my own environment, tend to lend to some miserable people. It doesn’t mean all of my friends are walking around, dragging their feet, frowning and sobbing and drowning their sorrows in ice cream and corny rom-coms. It just means at moments, the stress becomes too much to handle for them. People cave. People break down. People expose their humanity.

Despite the ambiguity of the following statement, the past few weeks of my life have been ridiculous. The flood of emotions and occurrences and smiles and tears and change has been rather overwhelming, but also encouraging. I am optimistic about the future, and with this optimism comes a more tangible realization of the following philosophy: Misery needs love.

I love empathizing with others, feeling their pain through their experiences, even if it’s something to which I have an extremely difficult time relating. And I’m definitely not belittling empathy — it’s a magnificent ability to connect with others through the emotions that we share, through language and interaction and our own flawed humanity.

But it’s far too easy to be in a situation in which the temptation is to become miserable about something that doesn’t require a negative outlook. There are moments where I think the negativity is basically necessary, the anger is justified, and the sorrow is cathartic and required. However, there are also moments and days where people are just miserable for no reason. Or they have a reason, but the empathy is not important.

There are two options. (Well, the third option would be to not care and avoid people, but I hate that idea).

Option #1. Join in the misery. It seems much easier to bring someone down than it does to lift someone up, doesn’t it?

Option #2. Love. Love unconditionally. Love purely. Love regardless of the circumstances. Just love.

Sometimes, we might not lift someone from the chains of their misery, and that shouldn’t be considered a failure. It’s a victory — you gave love, another person received it, and humanity connected. Won’t even the most tired soul appreciate the effort?

It isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It’s about whomever needs the love.

Well, I suppose we all do. So it’s about all of us, then.

And then I realized if I can make one person smile, I have succeeded.

Life is good.

the hostess who bought me cake

The more I write about life, the more alive I feel. Adding another tangible element of my existence through my words enables me to reflect more deeply, further cultivating the life lessons that each extraordinary day brings.

I love expecting a normality, and instead being pleasantly shocked with profound happiness and inspiration.

(Side-note: I have received so much inspiration in the past two days, I could write a book about this weekend alone.)

My day began by burying myself under my covers to block out the blinding yet beautiful sunlight. I officially woke up, ate breakfast, accomplished some reading for school, and went to Mass. The day was off to a fairly routine yet pleasant beginning. No complaints. My cereal was delicious, my time in church was enjoyed and introspective, and my life was (and of course is) full of countless and immense blessings. A solid morning.

But, of course, my mind is always in a gazillion places, so it seems. What’s happening tomorrow? Today? What happened yesterday? Next year? What’s going on with my horse? I wonder how the weather will be tomorrow. How are other people doing? I have a lot of homework. I’m feeling stressed. WHAT will I eat for lunch?! How about the —

Whoa.

So, I switched some plans around for the day in order to refocus and recenter, and my mother and I decided that going out to lunch together would be a nice way to relax and chat with one another.

Upon entering our favorite restaurant, we approached the hostess stand, as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary… until I saw the hostess and looked into her eyes. Her eye makeup was practically a picture frame, outlining her gorgeous eyes.

Your eyes are so beautiful! 

She paused and looked at me. What I expected to be a simple compliment instead ignited something within both of us: the flame of pure human connection.

Thank you so much. I really needed that. I’ve been having a rough time lately. 

For a brief time, the hostess and I vented to each other about the stress in our own lives, and the fact that lately, life has just felt WEIRD… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just peculiar. Odd. Strange. Different? I assured her that we weren’t the only two people who felt this way, and that maybe something in the universe is just a little bit funky right now. She smiled, told me she loved me, then walked away.

It was a sisterhood with someone I had never met before. It was an interaction that will most likely only be contained within this individual day; I might never see this hostess again. However, it didn’t matter. It was the fact that we were both vulnerable in our own humanity, and realized that at the core of our being, through the essence of who we honestly are, we are so incredibly similar. All of us are. We’re human.

Upon paying the check, the waitress, who was another woman, said that this hostess bought us some chocolate cake because we made her day.

I didn’t do anything magnificent. I didn’t do anything that merited being rewarded with cake.

As we left the restaurant, the hostess and I introduced ourselves to each other formally, and hugged each other before I went on my way.

What’s the lesson?

Seek inspiration and seek to be inspiration.

Do not be afraid of your own humanity, and certainly don’t be afraid of the humanity of others.

Cherish carbohydrates. They are magical things.

definirse

Merry New Year. It’s been a rather good start, if I do say so myself.

I’ve missed writing. I haven’t brought myself to do it, despite the fact that throughout the past month, so much has happened. Beautiful days and surprising challenges have swept me off my feet, bringing me into what has felt like a surreal version of my much more “realistic” life. Then again, what is “realistic” anyway? Either everything or nothing, so it seems.

Challenge. The word resonates within me; it has a nice ring to it. Challenge. The two syllables don’t remind me of immediate peace; I think of a storm that waters the crops, the fight that brings two people closer together, or the letting go and moving on that brings joy to the one who was once crying. The journey is not easy, but the end brings peace.

Well, let me begin here. I feel as though the beginning of the 2015 is the beginning of a second segment of my life, as if my entire life as I have known it ended on December 31st, and now, I’m starting new. It’s simultaneously frightening and exhilarating. I decided to part ways with my horse, at least for the time being, and she left me on January 3rd, just three days ago… although it honestly feels like an eternity since she’s been gone. It was a decision I came to on my own; no one was actively pushing me to part ways with my horse, but I knew it was time. It felt right.

I had been pondering upon the idea of leaving my horse for months, but nothing feels quite like actually leaving someone’s side, or in my case, seeing the trailer pull away for the last time, knowing that I would not be waiting on the other side of it, sitting in the pickup truck pulling my mare through the highway, or following in my SUV behind her. Nope. I said goodbye, and I haven’t seen her since. (I hope to visit her soon though, just for the record).

Throughout the past few months, I have been thinking of the idea of self-definition. Who am I? How do we define ourselves? What characteristics contribute to who I am as a person? A woman? A friend? A daughter? Who are you?

I’m a worrier, and if you know me, you are undoubtedly aware of that fact. So of course when I sent my horse away, my mind thought of the immediate risks involved. Trailer accidents. Stress ulcers. My horse possibly misbehaving in an unfamiliar environment, or not adjusting to the herd.

…but my most significant emotion was not one of anxiety, but one of loss, perhaps even one of confusion. Letting go of my horse was like letting go of a piece of me. Freshman year, I chose spending the evening with my horse over attending my first high school dance. I knew by letting go of my horse that I probably wouldn’t ride as much, or that I would probably be taking a long break at the least. I was once defined as the “rider,” and things have changed. I’m learning about myself in an entirely new way. The stable is no longer my escape, and barn dust is no longer my scent of choice. Things have certainly changed, quickly and abruptly.

Like anything, I need time to adjust. I need to adjust to this entire year, because my goodness, it is going to be an overwhelming and beautiful ride. I’m not expecting 2015 to be easy, and quite honestly, I don’t want it to be a piece of cake. I hope to be challenged and inspired continuously throughout the year to come, and I’m looking forward to each new day spent on this earth of such profound magnitude.