Here, There, and Everywhere in Between

It’s amazing how quickly the brain blocks out unpleasant memories.  Three days, a week later, and most of the bad memories are gone, leaving only good ones.  Now I’m not talking about traumatic experiences, just little things–getting up at the crack of dawn every day, sweating out your body weight, loneliness, arguments, stress, lack of caffeine, etc.  It must be some kind of coping or survival mechanism that the body has–leaving only good memories so that you want to go on surviving.  Or maybe it’s like in the BBC Sherlock, when Sherlock doesn’t remember that the earth revolves around the sun because it’s not relevant to what he’s doing.  Maybe we don’t remember little bad things like that because they’re not important or relevant to what we’re doing.  The human mind is a fascinating thing.  But anyway, I digress.

I just got back from traveling (twice–but it had only been once when I started this post).  The first was a missions trip to one of the poorest parts of North Carolina.  We stayed in a church surrounded by a cemetery with ashes in the walls–didn’t learn that last part until I got home, thankfully–and did repair work on local homes and churches.  It was a youth missions trip (aptly called the Youth Service Project–YSP) that my sister’s youth group goes on every year.  (Psst.  She’s in charge of it.  It’s like I have friends in high places or something.)  This was my second year going and it was pretty great.  I learned new skills with power tools, killed my fair share of bugs, was up on a roof for the first time that I can remember, and made friends.  All of which are somewhat out of my comfort zone.  As an aside, shout out to whomever created wasp and hornet spray.*  You’re the bee’s knees.

I don’t really know what to say about the trip past that.  It had its upsides and downsides, just like everything in life.  Looking back, I remember it fondly (see first paragraph), but it did have its iffy moments.  I didn’t know a whole lot of people on the trip very well (I wasn’t just meeting them, so it’s not like I was the new kid that everyone wanted to meet, but I didn’t know them well enough to just join in whatever they were doing, either) and socializing isn’t really my strong suit, so I spent a lot of the trip just talking to my sister and her in-laws.  One of the days I ended up hanging out solely with the adults on the trip.  (And I mean “adult” as in leader–not as in over eighteen.  Just to be clear.)  None of this was that bad, they’re all cool people; I just suppose I was mad at myself for not being more social and not being able to just enter into a conversation with the people I really wanted to talk to.**  I’m almost positive people would have talked to me had I just started talking.  It’s a constant struggle.  Plus, of course, there was the whole constant-lack-of-sleep thing.  I wasn’t a fan of that.  It didn’t really help my inability to socialize, either.  I can barely bring myself to talk to people when well-rested and fully caffeinated.  One of the nights I ended up making a paper swan in my room.  I was talking to someone while I did it, though.  So, progress.

The scenery was excellent, though.

The second trip was a trip to Chicago with my parents.  That was fun.  I love traveling and seeing new places.  We waited over two hours to go to the top of Sears Tower (which is not technically its name, but Chicagoans still refer to it as that, so “when in Rome” and all that), which frankly didn’t look much different from the top of the Empire State Building.  Most cities look the same from up that high.  But I did get this cool picture:

That’s my feet.  And my mother’s feet.  Way up above Chicago.

Anyway, cities are cities.  I personally fall on the NYC side of the NYC/ Chicago debate, but both cities have their merit.  The Chicago Tribune building was cool.  Apparently the person in charge way back when told his employees that he wanted parts of famous places.  His employees, fearing they would lose their jobs if they didn’t comply, went out and (most likely) stole pieces of famous buildings and monuments.  So now all those pieces are embedded in the building.  There’s a brick from the Great Wall of China, parts of Greek temples, pieces from buildings all over the USA, and apparently even a moon rock, among other things, although I didn’t see that.

Seeing that building might have been my favorite part of the trip.  Although a close second is a little tea cafe that we went to a few times.  I love cafes.  It’s on my bucket list to do a bookstore and cafe tour of the US, just asking the baristas to make me whatever they think is the best drink.  I did that both times I was at the tea cafe, and neither drink disappointed.  Granted, they weren’t my favorite, but they were still pretty good.  It’s hard to screw up tea.  Oh, I almost forgot.  We also saw the Blue Man Group.  That was my favorite part of the trip, hands down.

I got a signature!  Well, sort of.

We tried to go to Navy Pier for fireworks.  Whoever thought that was a good idea was very, very wrong.  There were so. many. people.  I don’t do crowds.  Checking the news later, apparently about 125,000 people were there.  Maybe more.  The pier reached capacity at 7:00pm and the police weren’t letting anyone else in.  There were crowds on top of crowds outside the pier trying to get in.  The fireworks weren’t scheduled to start until 9:30pm.  We left early.  It was probably one of the best decisions we made during the three days we were there.

I love traveling.  I do.  But traveling also teaches me that I love being home.  So my list of places I’ve yet to go is still incredibly long, but I appreciate the time I spend sitting in my living room writing, too.  Here’s to many more travels and a comfortable home.

This picture doesn’t really have anything to do with anything.  But I took it in North Carolina.

*I tried looking up who this person was, but I learned that there are far more types of insecticides than I could have ever imagined.  The only name I could find in my somewhat brief internet search was Paul Müller, who created DDT, but I figured I didn’t want to give him a huge shout out because he wasn’t the first (even though he did win a Nobel Prize in 1948) and because, you know, birds and PETA and stuff.  Although I suppose DDT was better than the arsenic and lead used before it.  So here’s just a general shout out to anyone who had anything good to do with insecticides.  If anyone knows who the original creator was–if there even was an original creator–let me know.  (For more information on the many types of insecticides and what they all do, visit the wikipedia page here.)

**I know you’re not supposed to end sentences with prepositions.  But for the sake of clarity, and because I’m feeling lazy, I’m going to do it anyway.  I just thought you should know that I know what I’m doing, before all you grammar sticklers start twitching.


Motivating Myself to Motivate (Inspire, Entertain, Inform) Others

Frank Warren.  Richard Saul Wurman and Harry Marks.  Chris Wink, Matt Goldman, and Phil Stanton.  Ever heard of any of these people?  Unless you’ve done a really specific research paper recently, probably not.  But I would be willing to put money on the fact that you’ve heard of what they made.

(PostSecret, TED, and Blue Man Group, respectively.)

I can’t currently think of more examples, much to my shame and disappointment, but I know there are so many more out there.  (If you know of any, let me know in the comments!)  These guys had ideas, put them into action, and they blew up–in a good way.  I don’t think any of them (although I could be wrong) initially started their projects with the intent to have fame and fortune.  They just wanted to do something cool.  I want to be one of these people.

I want something I make, something I create, something I design to better the world somehow.  I know that sounds selfish, but I specifically chose my examples because you haven’t heard of them.  I didn’t include Mark Zuckerberg, or C.S. Lewis, or anyone else who’s a household name.  I do want my name to become a household name, don’t get me wrong.  But I care more about if whatever I do is a household name and is making people happy.

I suppose that even little things, even if they’re not recognized, can make the world better little by little.  Changing one person for the better, or the happier, can make a difference, too.  So here’s my obligatory nod to Father’s Day:  Here’s a shout out to all the dads who make little differences every single day.

I still want to be famous.  I still want world-changing ideas.  I still want the ability and the chance to do something.  I just don’t know what.