I felt like this new blog needed to be updated to better suit my current self. Don't get me wrong: I still feel like traveling teaches us about ourselves and that there are lots of fantastically cool ways to learn. It's just, after a few more years of school, work, loneliness, falling in love, traveling, changing, not changing, in general, after living and growing up, I've gotten to know myself a little better, and I've learned a few things.
I've learned that people are more important to me than most anything else. I don't think I did as well in school, read as many books, went to as many museums or lectures or concerts, or performed as well in my job as I could have had I not spent so much time being with people I liked and who made me feel good and valuable. I've also learned, and am no longer ashamed to admit, that I think its easier to get people to notice us and like us when we look decent-- not couture or over-done-- but I know I feel more confident and out-going when I'm not thinking about my old shirt.
Part of what makes this problem worse is that while I didn't do any of those things I mentioned as well as I might have, I didn't do them particularly poorly either. That provides very little motivation to really get cracking on my intellectual, spiritual, or career development. At some level, I'm having my cake and eating it too. And besides, most of the people I was spending my time with were much more diligent in their self-development than I and it was easy to just go along for the ride.
But when I finally let myself reflect, I still feel like I need to take a little more initiative in my growth as a human being. And when it comes to role models, I find several candidates in my favorite books. Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. Anne, of Green Gables fame. Kitty from Anna Karenina. And Jo from Little Women.
My personal favorite is Kitty. She begins the novel as a flighty young woman, jealous and vain. Kitty gets so ill from the angst of unrequited love that she leaves the country to go to recover at a spa in Germany. There she meets a woman who is unselfish and self-sacrificing and yet so happy. Kitty tries to emulate her, but realizes she cannot maintain her friend's level of piety and service. Still, Kitty is changed for good.
It's at this point in the novel that I think Anne Shirley's comment that I've posted below my title is particularly fitting. Kitty wants to be good. She wants to be faithful. She wants to serve God and her fellow man. But she still wants to look pretty, and life's tests and trials seem to be marginally easier when we look good.
Kitty goes on to fall in love with a wonderful, hardworking man of the land. She's a doting wife and gentle mother. When her husband's brother falls ill, she immediately jumps in caring for both the dying man and her grieving husband, making everything better by the beauty and care she brings to their lives.
I guess I'm hoping my own story will have a similar ending. I probably won't ever read as many books, or have as many ideas, or know as many current events, or attend as many lectures as I could. But I hope I can make things beautiful like Kitty, and temper my pride like Elizabeth, and be full of gratitude like Anne, and make my big dreams fit my small life like Jo.