I swear this post is NOT about Emily Dickinson. Pinky Promise… Just keep reading.

I straddle a line between wishing I could slap Emily Dickinson in the face and wanting to make her my best friend forever.

The thing about Em (Can I call her Em? I will call her Em) is that the majority of her works, the ones that make her the Angelina Jolie of Literature, were not discovered until after her death. So what’s the main debacle with the majority of your poetry meeting publication after you are six feet under? You are not around to explain it.

Em is a literature lover’s dream. We could tackle hours and ages’ worth of ambiguity in her punctuation and the intention behind her words. We could wrack our brains over who she addressed her poetry to and what she really was trying to say. But I used to fight the urge to stand atop my desk in lit classes to state, “Maybe Em was not all that misunderstood. Maybe she just wanted to produce beautiful poems.” Oh goodness. What would happen if we stopped dissecting them for a moment and took them for what they really are? Radiant Imperfect Pieces of Perfection.

I am known to go at life with a magnifying glass. Often my friends and family remind me that I should stop to be in wonder of this world instead of always trying so hard to understand every little thing. Every nook and cranny of each person I encounter, place that I visit, and experiences that I stumble upon.

Life Lesson #__Insert grandeur number here__: This world is too big. The number of people and their purposes are far too wide. We will never have it all figured out. Ever. No matter how hard we try.

Sometimes we need to throw out the books that remind us to not sweat the small stuff or the ones that teach us how to lead a more fulfilling life. Instead of “learning” how to live we might just want to try living sometimes.

I think about dying a lot. Not in a morbid sense, really, I swear. I think it’s smart to muddle over the topic from time to time. We are all going to die eventually. But that is not the point of this post either. I wonder about my bedside and the people whom I would want to surround me in my final hours. And bring me flowers. And kiss my forehead and hold my hand. And I realize that it is just that: People That I Want.

We have become so wrapped up in this notion that everything and everyone comes walking into our lives with a reason trailing behind them and lesson to teach us in their arms. Don’t misunderstand my message, I think all of this is very true. However, where is the balance? When does someone stop being a person we need to learn from and just start being a person we want to learn with?

I once had someone ask me not to turn him into a life lesson. A strange request. At first I didn’t understand. And I also wondered why he would ask that, seeing as I practically survive on life lessons. If they were food I would be morbidly obese. Trust me.

People don’t want to be life lessons in our books as much as they simply want to be in our books. To Play a Part. To Have a Role. To have made a difference with their presence, a difference that made us always want them to be there. Even if we knew it was not possible.

You see, life lessons are good. But People are Better. I would much rather lay down with someone under the night sky and its blanket of stars and together we could get great practice in wondering about this lifetime. In Trying to Wrap Our Heads Around Our Place In This World. I would much rather do that than to watch someone slip out of my life because I turned them into a lesson instead of a friend. Because I held too tightly to the things that they taught me instead of remembering to reach for their hand.

We should probably all surrender. Hold up our white flags and turn in our magnifying glasses. Admit that we don’t have all together all the time. That we cannot explain every aspect of our lives. The more I think about doing this, the more I realize that the walls would not come tumbling down and the earth would not meet an apocalypse with this declaration. The world actually might look wonderful with less mysteries for me to solve. And more mysteries for me to marvel at.

I don’t even believe I would want to figure everything out. What would be the point? Who wants a life that they understand so well that they can tuck it into their back pocket? I have yet to meet the individual who wants the life so little that they see and understand every bit of it.

I would rather stay convinced that we are all just walking around. Hungry. Thirsty. Confused. Content. Wondering. Wandering. But then we Bump. Bump. Bump. Extraordinary Bumps Into One Another. And we hold tight to hands and find companions in this world. Soul Mates. People we declare to be partners to us instead of just a passing lesson, a speed bump along the way, on our journey to the bigger picture.

So share with me a mystery of your lifetime, something you cannot comprehend but you love it just the same. But then stick around for a little while. I want to believe this life makes more sense with people sitting by our sides.

Reading between the lines of a message written on cardboard

“What do you think it’s like?” I asked her as we walked along our usual route, weights in both hands as we pumped our arms back and forth in sync with our jogging shoes. “I mean, how do you think it feels to know you have reached a point where you need to ask for help on a piece of cardboard?”

It was a question that had been heavy in my head all day. We have all been exposed to it, maybe even experienced it; a man or woman on the side of the street with a cardboard sign in front of them.  Sharpie bleeds through the flimsy cardboard, piercing it with a plea for help.

After seeing a man on the side of the street earlier that day with a sign that read “Homeless Veteran. Spare change. God Bless,” and giving him five dollars, I had been fixated on what it must feel like to have to ask for help in this manner. To Stand Alone. On The Side Of Traffic. And Beg For Spare Change. To Pray That This Change Will Change Your Circumstances.

Yes, there are times when I roll down my window and give an individual money. I am no martyr for this. But I am often met with criticism: “They are going to use it for drug money.” “They should go to a shelter or get a job to get their life on track.” But all the criticism in the world cant change the fact that moves me to reach out my hand and forge a connection through a piece of paper that I wish meant nothing: Tomorrow I could be writing for help on a piece of cardboard. Tomorrow I could need someone to read my sign and extend a shred of humanity to me. Today, tomorrow or the next day I could be in the same position. You could be too.

I don’t know what it is like to be homeless. I am not trying to act like an enlightened figure or speak of things I do not know here. I am simply questioning what we all might say if we were forced to write upon a piece of cardboard. How could we sum up our story into less than 10 words? Is that a trick question? Well, yes. I have a hard time believing any story can be a mere ten words. But then why do we never ask to hear the rest of the story? Why do we ignore people who are homeless? Why do we look straight ahead when they are to the side of us? Why do we stare at the red light, praying it will turn green a little faster, so that we can drive away quickly and forget?

Why do we leave people, who are just as human as us, standing there with only ten words?

Well perhaps that is why I am here: blogging and writing all the time. Because we all have a beginning, a middle and an end. We all have a voice, though some have the privilege to be more resonant than others. We all have something to say, a proclamation that should not be boiled down to broken sentences, strangled to fit on the back of a pizza box.

For this reason, among many more, is the reason that I will be dedicating my first year after college to service. I have been accepted to two programs (Yay!) and will be learning of my placement in the next few weeks (keep you posted). I intend to continue blogging throughout the journey and I guess it is about time that I stated this as my purpose. Finally I can define my blog: This blog is not about me, nor for me. This blog is about each and every one of you and the common thread sewn between us that makes us all human at the end of the day. This blog is not only about what makes us unique, special and different, but more importantly, what calls us all to be the same. And if I show that to one person then that is enough.

I am a lover of good literature, profound ideas and pages of goodness that leave me questioning the world around me. And if you are too then I highly recommend adding this book to your reading list. Same Kind Of Different As Me, by Denver Moore and Ron Hall, exposes the contrast between homelessness and privilege and caused me to really question: Am I really all that different from a man holding up a cardboard sign? This story is incredible and true. I envy any person who gets to trace the words of this remarkable book while I am forced to return back to my textbooks and reading for classes.

If you love me, do the obvious. Let me go.

Has it always been like this?

Or maybe we recently have come to a day and age where we love people so much that we let them go, we risk losing them forever, just because we have this wild infatuation with the world. There is not much time to watch movies (I plan to catch up over my winter break) but of the great love movies that I do see, there is normally a scene where the two tangled protagonists part ways. On purpose. Is this the romantic way to do things?

I can picture myself by an airplane terminal and then “he” (whoever “he” is) comes running up, pushing through the throngs of people, yelling that he simply cannot live without me. And then there is the choice, to stay or to go.

I think I may have started off the year wanting something similar to this. Wanting to find someone who made leaving so hard. But do I really want the pain and the heartache that comes paired with it? Do I really want to have to tell a person that I come to grow and love that I have to go off and see the world for myself? By my self. Singular. 

It is tough, like all things in life. I don’t understand it. Maybe when I fall in love with the right one I will not have to roll this question around in my head. I will just know that he is worth sticking around for. My mother and I often get into this kind of debate. I say that someone should love you enough to let you go, she says that sometimes you love someone enough to decide to stay. Perhaps it is a delicate combination of both. 

If we go- well then we might miss out on the greatest love and be doomed to the typical movie plot. The person writes us letters and then our evil parents hide them from us, normally in the trunk of the car or wrapped up in nice ribbon, all 365 of those letters. Our lover is so heart-broken over the distance that they unexpectedly fall in love with someone else who can console them with their grief. And we can’t ever hate the person they fall in love with, because they are always so damn nice. It just gets messy when we come back from where we have been and figure out that our feelings are still raging and wild. Or perhaps if we go, they wait, and then there comes the chance of being together. 

I think our hearts are too restless to stay put. Most of us have this itching and passion to see the world and if we are held back from it then we never fully develop. We find some kind of regret to cling to. We always wonder “what if?” 

To stay or to go. 

I could very well be headed off to Haiti or South Africa in 2010, so does that mean I ward off any kind of love? I know that I will eventually depart, standing by terminal 17, sick to my stomach. 

I think its more glamorous in movies, harder in real life. It hurts more off-screen. But it may be worth it. It may be worth it to know that someone loves you enough to wait for you. Or that someone loves you enough to ask you one question, to never leave them, to wake up every morning in their arms. The real question we must ask our selves, when we encounter this kind of love, is not whether they will let us leave but rather if we will choose to stay.