What I’ve Learned

I am leaving the farm on Sunday to head back to Buffalo.  In lieu of having posted anything all summer, I’m trying to compile a list of things I’ve learned here (or re-learned in a significant way).  I do not presume to be able to advise the entire human race and support everyone’s need to find answers for themselves, even if they’re not the same answers I’ve found.  (I’ve gotten some patronizing comments from people when I’ve shared this stuff in the meantime, and I really don’t appreciate that.  I’m not trying to patronize anyone here; I just want to share experiences that have been valuable to me in case they are to you, too.)  Therefore, you can consider this a list of advice that my present self would give to my past self circa 2009 if I had a time machine.

Learn to listen to the whisperings of your own soul, and base your most important decisions on that and that alone.  Do not take into account what your friends want you to do, or what your parents want you to do, or what the rest of society will think of you.  This is the only way to become who you really are, and not just who you think you should be.

You are never truly a prisoner of circumstance.  You always have the option to completely change your life, no matter how difficult it may seem.  And if you’re not happy where you are, regardless of the difficulty, it will be worth it.

You don’t have to sit around and wait for a life plan to fall from the sky and hit you over the head.  You can sit down at any point and make a plan for how to get where you really want to be in life.

Art, music, and writing are the best—and for me, the ONLY—helpful outlets for angst and loneliness.  Remember to make use of those over distractions like the internet.

In order to find your tribe, you have to have the courage to outwardly be who you really are, and therefore stop giving a FUCK what people think of you.  This is especially difficult for me since I crave constant validation from the people around me.

Take the time to commit senseless acts of beauty, regardless of whatever tiredness or laziness befalls you.  (Drink tea or play music on the roof.  Do up your hair all fancy.  Wear bold, right colors.  Dance around with your headphones on.  Bathe in moonbeams.  Chalk up the sidewalk.  Watch sunrises, sunsets, and shooting stars.)

Actively pursue what you want in life without fear of imposing on people.  Don’t apologize for your existence.

Consciously practice gratitude for everything in your daily life: small moments of beauty, the positive aspects of the bigger picture, even things like loneliness and longing.  Treasure every experience, every breath you take, because you won’t be alive forever.

Be careful not to become attached to specific outcomes.  Strive to let go of your preconceived ideas of how things should go in order to truly embrace each moment for what it is.  (I also hardcore suck at this one.)

There is an entire spectrum of belief in a higher power, and of general spirituality, that lies between strict dogmatic Catholicism and total atheism.

The ways that you define yourself, and your ideas about what you do and don’t like and what you can and can’t do, are much more limiting than any actual limitations outside your own head.  You are capable of so much more than you would ever think possible, so keep challenging yourself.

You have songs, stories, poems, paintings, etc., lying dormant within you that you don’t even know about until you give yourself the time, space, and permission to explore your creativity.  Just let yourself fuck around with different media and see what comes out!

DO SOMETHING!  ANYTHING!  Get off your ass!  You are ALIVE!!!  It’s better to take SOME sort of action than wallow in uncertainty indefinitely or stay stuck in the planning stages.  Don’t let the fear of fucking up keep you from trying to do what you want.

The Internet does not have the answers, at all, in any way, whatsoever.  You have to find them for yourself.  So get the fuck off the computer.

This summer has been one of the most incredible and inspiring things I’ve ever experienced, and I’m not ready to let this go.  I’m finding myself clinging desperately to everything and everyone here in my final days, which is antithetical to everything I’m learning, but hey, I’m still  human and a work in progress.  Things will be okay.  Somehow or other, they will.  I am trying, really trying, to learn to trust the universe, and, as I said all new-agey-like, the whisperings of my own soul to get me where I need to be when I need to be there, in spite of my intense instinct to try to be in control of everything in my life.  It seems to work for some other people, this whole “trusting the universe” thing, so I might as well give it a shot, too.