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Posted by james on July 25, 2002

I love the song "Yellow" by Coldplay. It always makes me feel a certain way, think of certain things...

One day, back in high school, I was standing in the TV room of my family's house in front of a very frustrated father. It was mid-term time, and again I'd gotten myself into a mess. I wasn't doing so well in classes and it was because of simple things. I just hadn't done my work, even though it was so easy to do. And my father just couldn't understand why I wouldn't do the simplest things to help myself out. I remember him asking me, "Don't you care?"

I'd almost answered, "Of Course," when instead I paused and thought about it. And I realized something; that I really didn't care. I didn't care at all about school or doing well, and that was the thing that crippled me. If I was going to improve at all, I knew I had to figure out a way to motivate myself. Since then, motivation has been such a big deal in my life. I know that without knowing why I'm doing something, I find it very hard to do it well.

So now I'm in an interesting position in life; college is gone, jobs loom ahead, and I don't know where I fit. I miss the Dominican Republic so much because I knew why I woke up every day. Now, I don't. I can set myself goals; today I will get a new car battery. Tomorrow, I will find my guitar and play my songs. But where am I going? People around me are heading off to the goals and plans they've set, jobs and new states, weddings and missions. I have opportunities, but no direction, and it is a confusing place to be. I know where I would like to go, yet there are good reasons for staying here, so I figure there must be some other good reason I'm still here; some overall purpose that makes being here worthwhile. But somehow, it feels like I still don't know what that is.

So for now, I'll take these simple, single steps. I don't accomplish things very quickly (as anyone will tell you), but if I take one or two steps a day eventually I'll get somewhere. For now, I'll walk with my head down and a blue stone in my hand, and my eyes on the one or two steps in front of me that I can see. And I'll try not to fret too much about the others that I can't.

2 Simple Quarters

Posted by james on July 14, 2002

The other day I was walking in Newport with a friend, around sunset. Across a street corner, I could see a woman with a walking stroller trying to get a paper from a vending machine. As we approached the corner I could see that she was taking longer than usual to get her paper. When we were close enough, I could overhear her talking to her baby. She looked like she was giving up, then she sighed and said she would have to come back later. She mentioned something about finding out when the yard sales were in the paper for tomorrow. Something struck me, and I offered her some quarters. She was glad, said all she had were canadian quarters. We made a trade, and she tried to figure out how much she still owed me since the canadian quarters were worth less. I laughed and shrugged it off, and we continued on our way. She hollered thanks at me as we walked down the street.

There are certain things that make me feel like a little kid. They make me feel vulnerable, when a simple thing has made me sad, if only for a moment. I imagined being in the midst of a hectic day, trying to get what little I can done since there's no way I'll get it all done by myself. And in the middle of this, while I'm out relaxing for the small amount of time I have, I'm not even able to buy a simple paper and I know I'll have to make another trip back as soon as I get home. And I imagined how in that single moment I'd feel sad and disheartened, like a kid with a fallen ice cream cone. It's such a small thing, it doesn't even make sense.

I don't know if that woman was having a hectic day, or if she felt that way about not being able to get a newspaper. But I'm glad I could do such a simple thing to help her out. I hope someone can do that kind of thing for me someday, when I look with downcast eyes at something that has, just for a moment, broken my spirit. And I hope someone would help my mom out if she needed some quarters.

Morning in the DR

Posted by james on June 27, 2002

<i>Isolation. see synonyms for solitude.
solitude: the state or quality of being alone or remote from others; a lonely or secluded place</i>

These words are apt to describe the way I cope. I am an internal processer, someone who prefers to figure things out by myself, alone. I spend my hours late at night after everyone else has gone to bed, wasting time, playing, writing and creating. This is when I think through things, figure out the reasons behind everything.

What I miss the most from the Dominican Republic is feeling a sense of Purpose. For school I used to wake up every day and question why I was going to class. Unfortunately, I'm also a lazy person so this resulted in me deciding not to go to class pretty often. But it's not just a single question I ask myself in the morning, whether or not to get out of bed; it's also an underlying feeling that starts to permeate my life. Without feeling a sense of purpose, I get easily distracted and lose motivation. And recently I've discovered that the future beyond where all my plans have reached thus far is approaching quickly, and I don't see the next stone, the next place to put my foot. I don't know what my purpose is.

When I wake up in a small metal bunk-bed with the missing springs and sagging mattress, I know why I'm waking up. When I set my alarm and pray that it will wake me up in the morning, I know why. When I pack lunches of things that I never though I'd like, work until all I want to do is lay still and waste the days, and go to bed before the sun has come up the next morning, I know why I do these things. And coming back to Rhode Island is coming back to an open-ended future with no foreseeable goal or purpose. It's hard to leave all that behind.

Someone once described re-entry as a mourning-type of process. At the time I didn't believe them, but now I'm starting to suspect it's true. It fades as I become accustomed to my life here, but everyonce in a while I still feel a pang of loneliness, and the need to detach from my life here and go somewhere to think about things. To isolate myself and spend time processing the feelings I have and why. And to think about the bigger question that follows; what am I supposed to do now?

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