Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Then, love the world

          A new year has begun. For most of my life, I have celebrated New Years with my family in the comfort of my pajamas in my living room. We always watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV, but I never found excitement or joy come in. For many years I was against New Years resolutions because I never had the motivation to keep them. New Years just seemed like any other holiday of the year. But this year was different. This year, I celebrated with almost a million other people on the streets of Vienna. And as I watched the celebrations, I could see hope on the faces of the strangers around me. Pure joy was all around as people waltzed to the Blue Danube, drank champagne, and watched the fireworks display overhead. This joy and this hope was magical.
          This New Years was different also because of where I am in my life. The transition to Croatia has been hard. I have found myself floundering and giving into loneliness and self-doubt. I felt myself feeling trapped in Osijek with no friends and honestly little hope for the rest of my time here. I realized that I needed a new start; I needed a new game plan. And what a better time than the New Year? On my trip, my cousin Cara asked me about what my motto was for 2013 and what it will be for 2014. On considering this question I remembered a poem that a dear friend sent me when I moved to Croatia. The poem in its entirety is at the bottom of this post, but the last line goes,

"And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know? Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world."

          I believe that this last year has been me learning to love myself. As I finished my senior year in college, I really took the time to figure out who I was and what I wanted in the world. I learned to be confident in every part of me and those who know me, know that I was truly happy. For a moment in time I was able to live out exactly who I wanted to be. 2013 was all about loving myself.
          But now, it is time for me to forget it. I have been so caught up with myself here in Croatia, that I have not noticed the beauty that surrounds me. I have so been worried about being myself and how I come across to others that I in a way I have stopped living. And so my New Years resolution is to stop thinking so much about myself and try to love the world with everything I am. I want to question others and learn more about this place in which I am living. I want others to know joy because I am trying my best to love them. I don't want this year to be about me, but about the love I can show to the world around me.
          And by loving the world, I am actually being myself to the fullest. By forgetting myself, I hope that I will actually be able to find a new, better version of myself. I have already reflected on how I cannot be the Julia I was at EMU, but I finally see that I can be a better Julia. I can learn to love more deeply and more passionately. By shifting my focus to the world around me, I shift focus to what is most important in life. And that is not me.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass by Mary Oliver

Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold the reliability and the finery and the teachings of this gritty earth gift.

Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds who are drinking the the sweetness, who are thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in. 

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two beautiful bodies of your lungs...

Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus, the dance, the potter, to make me a begging bowl
Which I believe my soul needs.

And if I come to you, to the door of your comfortable house with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails, will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance. I would like to give you this chance. 

We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we change. Congratulations, if you have changed. 

Let me ask you this.
Do you also think that beauty exists for some fabulous reason?

And if you have not been enchanted by this adventure- Your life- What would do for you?

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself. Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to. That was many years ago. 
Since then I have gone out from my confinements, through with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart. I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment somehow or another).
And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is. 
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned, I have become younger. 

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.  

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