Shameless plug for gap-year, hope this positively benefits someone

Sunday nights are similar to how phenomenal drinking coffee is for the movement of my digestive system, angelic. This Sunday evening has been ideal comfort produced from activities I have come to appreciate whole heartedly this year, extremely simple, mundane practices, from reading a comic book and watching the sun set to biking to get ice cream and making popcorn, little things that didn’t used to mean a whole lot. As fundamentally basic as those activities sound they really have become bright spots in my life where other more unintentionally present circumstances lurk into my conscious. Taking the form of many unpleasant realities, there is quite a lot to be unhappy about in the world, just walking down the street or being present in a public establishment can give you an array of reasons to want to impale a lot of things with forks. Within all the shit that proceeds throughout our day there do always seem to be a few bright spots in which to cling on to, to attempt to lengthen as long as possible and wring every ounce of enjoyment of. But, for the reason of a lot of people in our world de valuing these activities, I am wanted to write this.

I was making popcorn after completing checklist activities for college when it dawned on me that this decision of going to college, pursing higher education, and spending inordinate amounts of money on that education was genuinely my decision. And of course everything is our decision when it boils down to it. We decide to get out of bed every morning, we decide to brush our teeth, we decide that maybe I can wear these pair of underpants for another day, but it sometimes seems as if the decisions aren’t really our own at all. Preparing senior year for whatever it was I wanted to do after high school, the whole process felt incredibly structured, to an unbreakable point . Appearing to be a part of the structure itself, not within it. That going to high school and then college was an irrefusable reality, and no one really questioned it. And not that going to college after high school is a bad thing what so ever, for some individuals it is the best thing! But I can only speak from my experience, and that experience is that I have learned and lived out the best, most fulfilling year of my life, and it didn’t involving going to college or a structured education. More in this year than ever I have gained essential tools of life that I can’t imagine living without furthering myself as a person in whatever way I see fit. Taking a step back from the crazy fast paced societal expectations that are placed on us throughout our upbringing and considering what really matters has been remarkable. The reason I say this is because I think too often we feel as if we are in an unescapable path of life that seduces back into its clutches every time we consider leaving. And taking a gap year firmly implanted in me that removing myself from the path benefited me in ways I would have never imagined. Meeting individuals I would have never known existed, falling in love with another family miles away from your own, eating food and engaging in traditions far out of your comfort zone. All these things that make you want to get out of bed every morning and wonder what unexpected occurrence you might experience that day! It gives you reasons to put up with horrid activities knowing the next one will make you feel like you are floating on air, not knowing the bounds of happiness. There is so much to experience and be happy about that if you aren’t totally satisfied with what life has brought you so far, don’t let that deter you from wanting more and feeling more every day! Adventure is out there! You just have to go find it.

Often cases gap years are cheaper than a semester or year at college and I believe has the potential to be many times more beneficial. There are an amazing amount of people that care about making that a reality for students everywhere in life, not just after high school. DO IT! YOU WON’T REGRET IT!

And if there are any questions whoever may be reading this has and wants to ask please feel free to message me or whatever form of contact tosses your salad the most.

 

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Being home away from home

The first thing I did when I returned back from my flight of beauty and bliss was redoing my room. I felt that I had reconstructed my attic level of myself in terms of how I thought and see my day to day life. I found no better way to parallel my metaphysical adjustment with a tangible, more visual association, the place where I slumber and snuggle with my stuffed animals. The physical remodel began and I was feeling positive about what I had started and where it may end up, of which I had no idea. Just knew that a make over was in order, and this was the best I could think of. My art pieces from South America went up, old dusty clothes went out, and in came a much more comfortable acknowledgement of what I feel confident associating myself with. It does seem strange that you are defined by what is around you, friends, parents, music, clothes, smell, feelings, things that seemingly make up a person. But how do we as people remain consistently aware of what feels good or not? How is it that someone could de rail off the tracks of natural sensitivity to what feels good? Why is it that we settle for decisions and realities that we knowingly feel isn’t right? I understand we all have to make sacrifices for whats best whether it be or friends or families, society or the “greater good”, but at what point do you feel alright about saying, “hey, I know this may not be whats best for me now, but its all for whats down the road, looking ahead for whats to come”. Who is to judge what is to come, be entirely sure about the karma of societal assumptions that you are making on your life? I was watching pirates of the caribbean three the other day, which I have to say is on of the more pleasurable movies to quote ranging from my beast from out east Captain Barbosa with the timeless: “THANK YA JACKKKKKKK” or, the swaggering man of all our dreams Jackie Sparrow: “ALL WITHOUT EVEN A SINGLE DROP OF RUM”, but one thing that stuck with me is that throughout the whole movie is that a majority of the progression in the characters story lines and the movie itself as a whole was based on the trust from one pirate to another, and most all the time one pirate totally fucked and disowned the agreement that was made! It was like SHIT! My dude just put so much on the line for this person just to fuck with him and not follow through!  At what point does someone just say, “damn, I just need this and let me ask the world”, rather than going through so many little hoops of life bargaining. Following a dream is tough when you don’t know what that dream is to follow, something too vague like “making people happy” isn’t something that you can just wake up one morning and be like, “oooooo” today I am going to make people happy. You can’t control it, it isn’t up to you, you can try your best, but if you are so reliant on others happiness for your own, you aren’t really controlling your own happiness at all. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? I am not sure, but it is comforting to know there will always be those lock, 100% associations with an uncontainable smile. For me, South America taught me that they aren’t always what you think they are, and that is the beautiful thing about waking up in the morning, you never really know what is going to happen when your feet hit the ground.

Expecting the Unexpected

Expecting the unexpected has slowly but surely become to the day to day norm as most every one of my expectations has been broken down and built back up with wonder and curiosity.

Here are examples of some of the things that have absolutely bewildered me in the most fascinating and exciting way:

The use of spoons. Solely for the purposes of food application, but still surprised me that a spoon can be so versitile and helpful. There really is no need to use anything but a spoon if you truly have the gumption, the spoon allows for the mix of all things on the table including, but not limited to: honey, salt, salsa, hot sauce, rice, and all items on your plate, it is the equipment in which you can mix and match in all sorts of exciting ways.

The observedly innate quality of sharing as not an exception, but a commonplace relative part of our everyday community experience. At school everyday all of the beautifully happy kidlets offer their food, fruit, and hugs no matter the state of their food, if they have it and say hello almost always the next exchange will be them holding their various types of snacks for our enjoyment. Occassionally you will encounter the kid that clearly just came from the bathroom with a pelled orange in hand, dripping liquids which you have to hope is orange juice. Another encounter with this new cultural exposure is the process of giving and receiving gifts. My host brother from the trip Trevor, who I have been sharing mama Lidias haven with, and I have been cruising through the instant coffee every morning and thought it would be a kind gesture to purchase a new canister for the fam. This morning as we rolled in sleepy and contently filled with a weekend full of newfound adventure to the kitchen we observed our usual routine a wee bit different as after we had been served our food, Lidia strolled over around the corner to the table with the face unrecognizably of that of a mothers with displeasure. She was uneased that we had bought a item that is used by all in the household and wished we had let her replace it as the mother of the household. As Trevor and I were rolling up our sleeves with the confidence of being greeted this morning with thanks, much the contrary as we had not understood that our presence and sharing of personal opinions greatly outweighs any physical item we might be able to gift her. The moments of simplicity solely involving those around us engaging in lively banter and drowning laughter have meant so much more than I could have ever expected.

The traversing of mountanis terrain could be so cinematic giving us the opportunity to about as close as possible experience what Spongebob and Patrick must have felt like in their crabby patty mobile driving to the sea of monsters to recover neptunes crown. As the rainy season has quickly commenced, so has the engulfing of this region by beautiful cloud cover. Driving along the ridgeline on the cloud cavern is an immense pleasure of not knowing whether you may be soon apart of that cloud as the car begs the question right up until the point of no return if we will be returning. Driving with the local friends here as given a whole new meaning to the snuggle party in the backseat of trucks as by the end of the car ride it is sometimes hard to differentiate your body from those next to you.

The possbility of a what looks to be a casual sunday excursion to the city of Quito ending up in the palace of the president of Ecuador receiving a private tour by our host sisters husband, who turned out to be the coolest secret service agent ever. As we arrived to our destination of the house of the amazing daughter of our mother, we were greeted by her and the hunk of man that was her husband, also accompanied by their adorable baby that looked to be the mixing of the Ecuadorian Michelin man and pillsbury doughboy. This child was the most buddha of babies I have had the pleasure of laying my eyes on, his arms were like those stress balls of which he could use wonderfully to get down to some Pitbull riding in the secret service agents (dads) car.

The unexpected everyday occurance of what seems like an impossible feat of topping the day before. Between the hiking of waterfalls, stimulating and extremely liberating  sessions of seminar at which we are given free reign of interpretation and internalization of not just our readings, but of our everyday experiences and frequent encounters with locals on the street, there is always a new adventure to be had. Everyday here has been a new page in my book of wonder and beauty. Developing a newfound sense of appreciation for the ability of each indivdual to induce happiness and inspiration has quickly become the norm here. Every person has a story to share whether it be through a simple Buenos Dias or a High Five in the classroom, each unique and individual, illuminating little by little the unconditioned love all these people have for one another. My love for this place and these people burns almost as much as my diaherrra. Only difference is I cant wipe away their influence on me, that will last forever.

Sometimes All You Need Is Love and a Smile Full of Happiness

Our welcoming was far and in between anything that I ever would have expected, but was so precisley indicative of what the coming days were to hold. We were welcomed into this absolute haven of a city by a celebration of the cowboy which consumed the whole city in a excited frenzy of horses and welcoming faces. The minute we got off the bus we were greeted by a few of our parents awaiting with anxious smiles and anticpating children wondering who was coming to inhabit their lives. We were ushered into a parade of what seemed like gargantious proportions consisting of a rockin marching band repeating the same chorus for the entirety of the way closely followed by those dressed as the indigenous Minas cowboy. For quite some time we led the charge until the Mayor came and took the his rightful Mayorally position at the front wearing a skin tight pink button up which, to his credit really accented nicely his skin pigment and gelled hair. I wont go into detail of our love and laughter filled stay here, as it would take me staying up past my bedtime of a cool 830, which I have never been more happy to say. But will give a brief look into a usual day in the life of the Mountain Town.

Monday to Friday.

Wake up at 6 to our charistmatic mother eargerly waiting for us to “sientase” at the dining table ready to give us one of the many outlets of care and immense love she shows for us through food.

Get ready for our school day and board onto our school bus of a pickup truck accompanied by families and children alike making the daily whole family effort to bring their child to school.

Arrive at out primary school, Named ESCUELA CUMANA, and distribute many kisses of good morning and smiles of a new day to seized.

Start teaching the eager kidlets of ages 7 to 10 begining with some camp songs, activites, and the usual fist bumps and broken english.

Ball out on some kids on the soccer field at recess and work up way to much of a sweat playing 10 year olds. I have to say very much can hold their own and have taught me some things about the utilization of any and every piece of equipment to have the most fun possible. Many soccer balls are being kicked around and spanish terms through around while jumping around a tire laid on the edge cement.

Prep for about an hour for the next days lesson plan.

Walk around and observe other teachers welcoming us into their daily teaching classrooms while exchanging smiles and hugs with the students, often ending in me explaining my life back at home. Much of the fascination comes from the fact that the leaves are in mid change and that sooner than later the lakes will be frozen over.

Come back home to our awaiting Mother, Lidia demanding to tell us everything about our day and how it was and offering incredible laughter and a place of consistent nurture to return to no matter what may have happened that day. For lunch every day we will start with soup and then move onto a salad, type of meat, and mountains of rice.

Proceed to digest food and make the half an hour walk to the center of town for either a seminar with our group, or on Tuesdays and Thursday, Spanish class involving much local interaction.

Have a little bit of free time after class and return back to our place of happiness nestled on the mountainside over looking a ravine of farmland while looks more like middle earths shire hobbit land than anything else.

Eat dinner, and conversate about our days and the days to come filled with unending laughter and appreciation of the full attentiveness our mother has to our lives making sure every aspect she can control is at perfect harmony.

Read and journal before I dive into a bed covered with Sesame Street covers and a jumble of other blankets that I wish so deeply I could sleep naked in they are so welcoming.

Although it has only been a week of experiencing this city and all that is to offer, the citizens sense of welcome and the culture of appreciation has made it feel like a lifetime. The mother and I bond on a level of laughs and physical joking that seems like it has been arranged by some wizard also involved with Lord of The Rings. The only way I think I could accurately describe here is if Mrs Doubtfire were to happen in the mountains of Ecuador and made a child with Steve Martin from Wild and Crazy guys and she was shot with cupids arrow of love. This is our mother. I could go on and on about how absolutely magnificient this city has treated us giving us all of its fruits of pleasure. One of my favorite aspects of our living arrangement is that about four times a day we make a half an hour walk through a mountain pass to go to and from our house to the city. This walk has quickly become an extremely mindful and therapeudic journey being able to internalize all the beauty and intangibles that would otherwise float by un noticied. I never wake up from my dream in the morning, it just continues on through the day.

Week One and I Feel As If My Heart Has Found It’s Place of Natural Immigration Patterns Mingling With An Array of Flight Patterns

I would be inconsiderate of the wholesomely awesome experience I have had the opportunity to witness this past week to attempt to summarize all the beautifully crafted soul orientating, searching, them jumbling back together of the self. These people I have the pleasure to embark on this journey with come from all over the world including Germany, Asia, and all stretches of the US, bringing diverse and distinctly unique perspectives and love to all we have done. I have never felt so much acceptance and nurturing in such a short amount of time with individuals brought together by complete happen chance. Including the vibrantly affectionate locals that consistently see the best in everyone they meet and feel as if they have a deep seated sense of appreciation of the human experience no matter the context. The first travel day consisted on 15 hours of on an off planes to first JFK from humble minneapolis, then a 6 hour luxurious flight to Guayaquil. After we arrived in Guayaquil, we took a short 50 minute puddle jumper filled with delectable caramels and marvelous sleeps to Quito. After arriving in Quito, we met our local constituent with the education sector of Ecuador called ELT, which is the organization that we take spanish classes and will be teaching 8th-10th grade English in a town called San Jose De Minas. We were greeted by the town of Mindo, the city we had orientation in, by deeply carpeted mountains of dense forest and what looked like green moss hugging the mountain sides. We debarked the bus and had our first interaction with the local engineering consisting of this wonderful Indiana Jones type carriage to carry us across the river, which we would later learn our Peter Pan of a living corridor was situated upon. As I journaled the first night, I truly believe I found out the reason Gentleman obtain morning wood because of how excited I was to wake up in the morning and watch as the sun illuminated the forest hiding a plethora of secrets we would never truly understand as the sun inched across the mountain until it reached us and the peacefully tranquil roaring river. Some of the highlights so far have been the numerous seminars about the self, how we identify our lives with similarities spanning across the human experience as well as what we view development as along with the assumptions we hold as result of our personal upbringing. We had a “Salsa-size” (Ecuadorian Jazzercise) immersion with an incredibly gifted man named Patricio who resembled the Ecuadorian Matthew Mcconaughey. The way he danced couldn’t help but leave us with the looming question of how he is able to talk with his hips and chest in such a way by gyrating and popping in ways I didn’t know possible. Another highlight was a majestic waterfall hike that took around an hour of sheer scrambling up the face of the rain forest, then back down the side following a river ending in a 35 foot waterfall. As a group we participated in an extremely symbolic jump down the waterfall although not everyone did it for themselves, but rather for one another. There is so much more I would absolutely love to express about how incredible of a love filled spiritually, physically, and mentally stimulating journey and it has only been one week. I can not accurately demonstrate how grateful I am to have this opportunity to be on this train with all these people that have one important thing in common, that we all are in flux flying through our own migration pattern of life, but are able to use each others drafting technique to own our personal gain, all in the vision that we will we land in different places, but knowing we have gained something special no one else will be able to appreciate, in the best and most beneficial way possible.

Hello Fine Furry Friends

As I embark on my three month trip into the countries of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, I thought it would be cool to have a public platform of information sharing. I will hopefully be able to come to this blog to post fun pictures and recount some of the interactions and experiences that are soon to come to reality! I will also be documenting the various stages of hair growth on my body as I am exposed to differing regions of elevation hoping to change the dynamic, and if I can bargain for it, shape, of my natural foliage.
I am amounting more and more beautiful excitement and fantastical anticipation as the departure date grows near, as I have the incredible opportunity to converse with multiple individuals about their own personal experiences, I hope to share one with you I will hold close and dear for the rest of my life.
Peace and Love until I cross the border!
Wish me luck Donald.
-Nick