Monthly Archives: June 2016

Complexity

I am not sure where to begin. I almost wish I could hook my mind up to my computer and download my thoughts but

a.) That would be really weird.

b.) It is also not possible.

c.)That’s also kinda gross.

d.) Thoughts and wave patterns are too complex to capture with technology

e.) I am not fully aware of my thoughts so it would come out as cgdffgidhehqiqgwt1w (or some other equivalent.)

I’m also not sure why I just used letters instead of numbers…..weird.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about complexity and how I wish I had better depth perception. Like how cool it would be if I could look at a person and understand the level of their complexity instead of telling myself things like “No one understands what it’s like to be me!” and other nonsense like that. It seems to be so simple to write people off as being 1D. Like what you see is what you get because if we look at someone and see their complexities, then we’d have to address those same complexities within ourselves and accept that we can’t sum up people in mere sentences and confine them to being simple beings incapable of understanding us.

I’m also marveling at the fact that we are able to think thoughts in an infinite and complex multi-dimensional mind and command our fingers to press on buttons with little symbols as a feeble attempt to momentarily grasp a fragment of this complexity to share with others. Is that cool or what?!

And I keep on frantically trying to grasp onto bits of my mind and soul by momentarily capturing bits and pressing them into poems and blog posts and late night 2 am conversations and still I have yet to swim deep enough into the depths of my soul. And maybe I do all of this because I want to matter. I want to be remembered. I want bits of my soul to fly away and land in the hearts of others and to have people read my words and say aloud to the universe that “Yes. I understand. For a fleeting moment, one soul managed to burrow a bit of herself in the lines of a poem and I understand myself better because of it. I and bits of the world are better just because this person exists.”

And I am frustrated because I am but one. A speck of dust caught up in a whirlwind, unaware of how fast I am spinning, and being flung from one life event to the next with no control or sense of direction. I feel like I am a universe living as a human being for a little while.

I wish I had the ability to time travel. To skip about time, just as one would skip a rock across a pond. I wouldn’t change anything. I would just watch. And listen. To perceive all the little bits of humanity before they disappear forever.

A few weeks ago, I visited an antique store in my town And pushed into a corner was an old photo album. There were pictures of a little boy, playing on the banks of a beach. They were taken in the early 1920s. Almost a hundred years ago. And as I picked up the album, some old letters fell out. They were dated  1920 and 1922. The first was a letter announcing the engagement of a young woman named Ruth. There was also a picture of her and she was lovely. She must have been only 19? 20? And then I opened the second letter…it was written by an older woman who had known Ruth as a girl. It was addressed to Ruth’s husband. It said:

(roughly paraphrasing this..)

Dear Willam,

“I am so sorry to hear about the passing of our dear Ruth and I must offer my condolences. Ruth was such a lively soul, full of grace and wisdom well beyond her years. She will surely be missed. It is truly unfortunate that she will not be able to pass on her legacy and wisdom to your son. It seems so unfair that someone so great must die so young but surely God has a plan…”

And it went on and on about how beautiful and precious was the life of Ruth and I couldn’t help but cry. Everyone who ever knew and loved her is long dead and the only person alive to remember her is me. The life of Ruth spanned the bridge of time to me, in 2016 who stood in a musty store shedding tears for the long dead.

I don’t want my life to be reduced to a couple of old pictures and letters from a time long forgotten. Ruth was a complex human being who was constrained by time and hers ran out so soon. Too soon. And I don’t know why these things happen and I felt and understood the anguish of Ruth’s husband and friend as they tried to grasp onto bits of their loved one before she disappeared forever into the unforgiving vortex of time. But now, I have immortalized her. Now, from  this day forward, the world will have evidence of her existence. She will not be forgotten and as long as there exists those to remember her.

So please do not let yourself be reduced to an old photo album and a couple of letters. You are a complex human being and it is okay if you have trouble grasping your complexity. Just don’t ignore the complexities of humanity as you try to fleetingly grasp onto yours. And please, remember Ruth. A lively soul like you who left this world far too soon. -Kate.

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Looking Forward: What’s Next

You know how in super hero movies, towards the end, there’s also some bit of voice over where the now recently realized hero talks about what’s next and how unexpected his heroes journey was? That’s how I feel right now. Like I’ve come to terms and processed everything that’s happened and now I’m dramatically gazing out unto a city from the top of a skyscraper, wondering what lovely and marvelous things are in my future. And I wish I could hit a pause button and capture who I am in this moment because it’s all about to change.

I remember one of the last times I felt this way. It was the summer between 9th and 10th grade and I was in Louisville, Kentucky, on the balcony of a hotel, gazing out at the horizon as the sun set over the Ohio River. And I was thinking about how everything was going to change and wondering who I’d be in the summer between 12th grade and college. Well, now I know. I’m a little more sure of myself. I know who I am, and now I have more courage to pursue what I want. I’m not sure where 14 year old me went, she slipped softly into the night as my voice grew stronger, braver than hers.

I swear a lifetime has passed since I was gazing out at that river and now it’s come full circle as I’m now left wondering how much I will change in the future. Lesson learned? There is no end to the marvelous things that can happen, if only we are open to change.

The future is uncertain, yes, but at least this time I have a clearer view of what I want and where I’m headed. In just a few days, (June 20th) I’ll be launching a second blog called ‘Philomath Maniac’ where I’ll be blogging about tips to study better, good sites to learn and learning resources/books I’ve enjoyed. I have pretty big plans for that blog so all of that is just the beginning. I also may have an opportunity to give a TED talk so that’s pretty exciting! I should be hearing back about that in a few days.

And last month, I came out with my first poetry book called “Like A Lotus”!
Basically life is a lot different from last year and it’s been hard to wrap my mind around it sometimes. I look forward to seeing what continues to happen and what the rest of this year holds. I’ll be moving to college on August 18th and it wasn’t until freshmen orientation last week that this fact fully sunk in. And the funny thing is, I’m not afraid anymore. I’m just excited. I kinda got to see my room. Well….more like I pressed my face up against the glass door and was able to see the door of my room… but it was still an exciting experience regardless!

As a teenager, naturally I’ve heard a lot about how being an adult sucks. But maybe like everything I’ve experienced thus far, it’s not completely good or bad…it’s just different, and all we can do is learn to be okay with that and learn to take life as it comes. And maybe the scariest thing about being an adult is the uncertainty, the lack of control in the parts of our life that we’re taught that we should have all figured out by 18. So truthfully, all I have are plans. I’m not sure what comes next. But I’m learning to be okay with that because life is life. It’s exciting, scary, and full of change. But to me, that’s what makes it so great.


 

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Looking Back (advice to high schoolers)

I’m not really one for looking back. Actually, if you were to ask some of my closest friends, they would probably say I never look back. I’m very future-oriented. I’m more than ready to put the past behind me and focus on college and all the many opportunities that will bring into my life. I don’t believe in dwelling in the past so it feels strange to be doing this at all, but a recent youth group gathering got me thinking about a few things. This past Sunday, my youth group leaders spent the evening focusing on all of us seniors in the group. They’d put together a list of questions for all of us, advice and such we would like others and our younger selves to know. I actually wrote a similar post about advice to younger me so today I’m doing something a little different. So this is for my high school readers, specifically a friend of mine, Esther. I read once that we should always have someone in mind to write for so this one is for you.

Dear Esther, (and other high schoolers)

Learn broadly and intensely. And I don’t mean just for school, I mean read good books and have late, 2 am conversations with people you love about anything and everything (i.e. I once stayed up till 3 in the morning discussing what were the MBTI types of all the characters on “Gilmore girls” with my sister). Learn about different cultures and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. And I know right at your age, understanding and loving a lot makes you stand out, and not always in a positive way (believe me, I know!), but you will be a more interesting and well-rounded person because of it.

Another thing to remember is that high school is not the ‘best time of your life’. It’s just time, and like all time, you need to decide how you want to spend it. And, it gets better, it really does. I know it may not feel that way sometimes, but it’s called a life cycle for a reason. Good times roll around along with the bad.

I would also like to remind you to believe in yourself more. And I know how hard it is because you have all these thoughts and feelings, hopes and fears and it seems like just because there’s a ‘1’ in your age, that people (okay, fine, ADULTS)  will use that as an excuse to deny you respect and validation as a human who is capable of doing things and you’re given ten billion reasons to hate yourself and to lose faith in what you can do. But please, please, don’t. You will figure out who you are and it’s a long, messy process so be patient with yourself.

Don’t give up and don’t underestimate all the amazing things you are capable of. This is something I have struggled with throughout high school. I never really believed in myself. I let myself live by a long list of all the things I couldn’t do.

Also, forgive yourself when you mess up. Because you will. A lot. But just remember that it’s okay to change. It’s okay to change your habits or your hair or your clothes. Most importantly, it’s okay to change the way you think. You don’t have to hold certain opinions just because your peers, or even your parents do. (For example, I am a feminist.)
It is important though not to waver in your integrity. Test yourself and everything in your life by asking: “Is this right for me personally?”

Be a leader. You don’t have to be loud and commanding to do so. My mom would always tell me to set the example and that actions speak louder than words. And so with everything, I try to ask myself: “Am I making things better by saying/doing/behaving like this….or am I just making it worse?”

But on the other hand, if you have to choose between ‘helping’ someone at the expense of harming yourself (either mentally or physically), choose to protect yourself. Know your limits. Know what kind of people are good for you and what people are toxic. For example, I know/have known a lot of people with mental illnesses. I’ve learned that I can help people with depression/anxiety without harming myself. But not a lot of people can. But anxiety is where I draw the line. I can’t deal with anyone with bi-polar, sociopathic, narcissistic, tendencies. And then there are just some people that are toxic for other reasons.

Be open to meeting new people. Please don’t form cliques. Just don’t. Not only does it exclude others, but you’re harming yourself by blocking yourself off from many learning opportunities. Speaking of learning, learn from anything and everything. Learn both from the mistakes and triumphs of all those around you. No one is ever completely wrong or completely right.

And lastly, I want you to remember that nothing is ever irreparably damaged. There will, of course, be days where you feel like a fragile glass figurine and all it will take is a touch or a word to crack you into a billion pieces and you’ll be lying in bed, staring at the ceiling (maybe crying), and wondering if this chaos and pain is some inevitable chain that will forever keep on twisting tighter around your heart. But it’ll get better, you’ll grow stronger, I promise. And along with those dark days, they’ll be some moments that you’ll want to live over and over again because they’ll leave you full of hope and a grand love for life. That’s just life. Simultaneously perfect and horrid at the same time. Hold it all close to you because all these moments will soon be a fleeting wisp of what once was, and someday, you’ll look back (much like what I’m doing right now), and be in absolute awe of how everything came together.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Accepting Failures Gracefully

I am wrong. I have been wrong for quite some time. I was wrong about failing and I was wrong about me. I’ve let my life become a series of if only’s and why me and I just viewed my life as a series of things that against my control, happened to me. The only thing I have been right about is that often when we don’t have any lessons learned to write about, that means we’re in the middle of one.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a list of things I wanted to do/be and one of the things on my list was to learn how to accept failures gracefully. Ah, I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this. Let me try again.

Throughout all of senior year, I’ve been absolutely horrible to myself. I have torn myself down in the worst ways possible. Ihave doubted and questioned everything about myself. Mostly I said things such as “If only I had learned to like math earlier, then I wouldn’t be so behind” “If only I were better at test-taking, then I wouldn’t gotten such a low ACT score.” “If only I had prepared earlier by getting a job, etc, then I would have money for college” And then I began to think that maybe I should just not go to college this year so I would have more time to ‘fix’ things.

And this is something I’ve always done to myself. I’ve done the mature thing of placing blame where it’s due, so mostly placing it on myself. But then…I’ve just let that blame sit and let myself grow weak under it until soon, I had formed a cycle where every failure was completely my fault and that my life was just a series of things that were destined to go wrong. Senior year has been great in a lot of ways but that’s not what this post is about so I will now continue.

And I’ve realized that I have been wrong about what failures are. Failure is just life not playing out how we planned it all in our heads. We’ve made failures possible only because we expect this messy chaotic universe to perform a certain way. Namely, to our advantage. But just like our lives are not a random series of things that had the misfortune to occur to us, it also does not follow a self-devised script. That is not how life works and that is what I have been wrong about this entire time. Every single thing has two sides but it is up to us what side we see. Like, for example, my arthritis. It is something that happened to me yes, but I have made the best of it and become better become of it. Am I some sort of failure because my body sucks at even sitting or opening things? No. So why have I not confronted everything else in my life with the same level of optimism?

And so now I am thinking that failure is not the things we did or what happens to us, but what we didn’t do. Which is use every situation to make this big ol’ thing called life less sucky. And it’s not about waiting for the good times to roll around and wait out for ‘things to go right again’, But to exist as complex creatures in an equally complex universe.

So through this all, I’ve lost sight of the most important thing here. That I love learning and I love astrophysics. I love life and things are never going to go the way I’ve planned. Actually here’s a list of some of the things that have gone wrong this school year:

  1. I didn’t get into the honors college.
  2. I didn’t win any scholarships.
  3. I don’t have a lot of the money to pay for college so now my parents have to take out a loan.
  4. I didn’t get into the dorm I wanted, actually I got into the worse one on campus.
  5. I’m still not caught up on math and I have a placement test in about a week.
  6. I got a really low ACT score (21).

And I’ve let all these things overshadow everything that has gone right. Actually, I need to stop saying that things went “wrong” or “right”. They just went. They just happened.

No one is to blame, not even me.

And from here on out, it doesn’t matter what happened so much as what I am going to do about it.

So yeah.

I was wrong.

This is not the first time and it definitely won’t be the last.

Not because everything went ‘wrong’

But because I simply did not to see all that went and could still go ‘right’.


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