We stood side by side in silence, measuring and mixing the ingredients for a fresh loaf of herb foccacia. It’s a feeling that I’ve never felt before, complete relaxation, knowing that Kerstin, one of my two lovely companions from my summer adventure, was near me in the warmth of her kitchen. No words were necessary to exchange, however, no boundaries in our train of thoughts exist any longer. I am unable to decipher between the actions I take silently and the actions I take which I inform her of before taking them. Whether it is verbalized or not, it seems that there is an understanding existing between us, which allows us to function as a single unit. What is different now, compared to the summer, is that we each hold four months worth of unknown experience from one another. Furthermore, we each feel compelled to plan out our respective futures in this current moment. What does that feel like? That feels overwhelming. So we stood, baking. In the comfort of each other, silently and simply struck by the vast unknowns standing before each of us that we will be forced to face on alone.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that life is not going to provide us the time to reflect, rather we are going to have to learn how to live in the present, reflect on the past, and plan the future all at once. I suppose that this is the challenge, learning to balance it all, because there is a lot of it, a lot of everything.
Something that both brought me peace and to say the least, surprised me, was when I realized that I share memories, vivid and real memories, with two other people. You could say that all people share memories with one another, but I want to differentiate between fragments of experiences and what was this past summer. We experienced life in a new way, one that none of us had before. We learned new rules, ways of thinking, and ways of acting. Our bodies and minds were re-trained so that anything familiar became distant, and all comforts had to be reestablished. Now, looking back on biking everyday, it seems unreal. The feelings that have bonded with my perceptions of objects only faintly bring back the experience. When I ride my bike, or have a Cliff Bar, i can’t actually relate to my own memories. It doesn’t seem right or even possible that we consumed or to exerted our bodies the way we did. How do such intense feelings and emotions disappear? I don’t know, but I am glad that I am able to share this with two others. What brought me to these thoughts was when Kerstin began to describe to me a day during our trip that the clouds, currently in the sky, reminded her of. Before she even described the day, I already had a picture of the moment she was referring to, when the Illinois sky was blanketed by darkness, leaving only a sliver of bright light to be seen. It’s as if the elements, names, images, feelings, and places are printed on our minds in exactly the same way. Let’s be honest, how often is it that you share and do everything with two other people for three full months?
It doesn’t seem like there will ever be enough time to reflect together or to be in the comfort of each others thoughts, but that is how life goes. We spend our whole lives planning the next step, and our present moments worrying about the next day, without time to reflect. So, when will we reach contentment? It seems that we will only achieved it when we learn to be in touch with our present while we plan our futures.
I’ve felt what it means to be connected to people, experiences, ways of being, and places. Kerstin pointed out that these things create layers in our lives. The challenge is maintaining each layer when it is not the present. What can be done when you become overwhelmed with how many layers there are? Embrace each layer and all that makes it up, for what it is and for as long as possible, I guess.
So here goes, I am about to embark on another transition. I have left Dickinson, a place that brought me to see how interconnected my interests are as well as a touch of contentment amidst many feelings of instability. I am trying not to anticipate the return, however, it’s difficult not to. I am excited to fill the time between now and India, and grow through practices that I have drifted away from. I am tinged with fear and discomfort when I think about traveling to Asia again, but as life goes, it will happen and things will be as okay as they can be. In speaking with others about India, my unsteady feelings diminish when the vibrant smells, noise, colors, and culture fill my mind. I can’t wait to be absorbed in it all. I can’t wait to be.