Love Who You Are

A short reflection from last fall that explores how to make the most of any circumstance!
One of the downsides of living life in a way that is different from most people is that I have the tendency to view my current state as more of a holding pattern while I wait for real life to begin. Several conversations and thoughts over the past month have challenged the foolishness of this notion as I recognise how incredibly fortunate I am to enjoy my particular experience of life.
I am living now, not setting myself up to apply for an opportunity to live at some point in the future. Certainly, the life of a full-time student and broke writer and failed entrepreneur has its challenges and sometimes I would rather pretend like this difficult course is not my first choice. My choice to live life in this way may have resulted in part from my unwillingness to choose another way, but I cannot continue to view it as such. If I had to choose again, I would go the same way that I have already and be prepared to enjoy it. Now that my season of focus on learning and developing myself is drawing to a close, I finally begin to recognise the benefits that it has given to me.
I have indulged in the luxury of exploring ideas that was only available to the wealthy in previous generations. I have had the time for self-reflection and discovery very few can still afford. I have wandered around the globe experiencing nature and culture in a way that very few people in the modern century ever will. I have tried so many different things that my interests and skill sets are both diverse and clear.
Yet, for some reason, an ideal grown-up me – or just another version of life continues to rear its head as the more responsible experience of life. From a cultural perspective, there are certain ways of living that contribute to stability and success of a people. However, from an individual perspective, there is no prescribed method of success that can either be met or missed. If this is the life that I enjoy, perhaps I should not feel uncomfortable about making the most of it.
Within the context of these musings, I have become comfortable with the idea of spending a little bit more of my life in Australia than I had previously planned. Alternatively, I could travel to other parts of the world that draw my attention and take their invitation of adventure. Technology enables me to maintain some sense of community even far away from home and the personality that I am shaping is more helped than hurt by this diversity of experience.
On the other hand, my value for community and forming deeper friendships with people for experiencing life together has grown and wherever I am I will seek to find this. It is what I appreciated most about Minnesota and what I miss about it. However, as I move beyond homesickness, I am beginning to find enjoyment in a similar community here. I will see what I can do to make Sydney an amazing place. How will this part of the world be different because I have been here? I am not on a detour waiting to suddenly engage my life. I am here right now, ready to act, enjoy, and live in the way that most suits my interest. I cannot predict the future and can prepare for it only by becoming a man of character. This change in my attitude is part of the process.
In addition to this, I am becoming aware of the importance of timing. While I live my life, there are certain things that fit in at certain places and some that don’t where I wish they would. Learning to recognise and accept which blessings can be part of my life at this moment and which must be saved for a later time is difficult. I have succeeded in some parts of my life, but others remain a challenge. However, I feel like I am coming to understand the importance of letting go of one thing so that I can pursue another. Life does not always happen in the right order. But what is meant to be will come to be and my happiness does not depend on which is which.
Rather, it is a choice to appreciate my limitations and opportunities. Even as tonight I am letting go of an opportunity to apply for funding for my business and recognise my lack of academic skills in the Australian context, I am happy with my opportunity to study, explore, and live in this country. I cannot always be and perform as I would wish, but if I do my best with the opportunities I have and still come up short, there is nothing to regret.

A Purple Tie

It all began with a purple tie. I had seen it in my wardrobe the day before and decided to put off wearing it until a later time. When morning came, I knew this was the day to don the perfect outfit to express my style – though it was a bit much for the occasion. All I had to wear it to was a breakfast with some friends and possibly a museum. I was not aware that brekky with friends (as they say here in Sydney) would be a wonderfully drawn out affair followed up by an additional hour of sipping coffee at a nearby shop owned by a gentlemen I met at the church last week.
Purple Tie in Sydney
So maybe it wasn’t the purple tie that made my day so great, but it was a reminder that I can choose to act, appear, and live in a way that I want to – just because I want to – even if the occasion doesn’t necessarily call for it. I definitely enjoyed wearing the tie, but even more so, I enjoyed spending time with new friends, trying a huge Australian breakfast plate (an Aussie twist on the classic English with eggs, toast, tomato, mushrooms, and sausage), and learning how to order different kinds of coffee. I learned my first kind of coffee yesterday when I woke up craving a cup and was waved into a cafe by two girls in the street who offered me a free cup of coffee.
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The long black is a basic cup of joe with sugar. Traditionally it is served with soda water to cleanse the palate for more enriching experience. Another great choice for those who want a sweet coffee is the ___white (I forgot the first part). It may have more milk than coffee but it is delicious. If you are into a cappuccino style of drink you can order a skim cap, soy cap, or probably any other kind of cap that’s drinkable.
Following the morning events, I walked with some friends from the south side of the city to the center where crowds gathered around musicians on the pedestrian streets, a Hare Krishna parade of dancers followed me around, and people bustled into the busy shopping centers that featured stores like Dior, Prada, Armani, and other high-end brands. The city malls filled with clothing, jewelry and accessories remind me of shopping in China where it was easy to find any top of the line brand name item, but very difficult to find a store like Target or Walmart to buy a laundry basket or other types of necessities. For these, I headed out to the suburban malls. Maybe this inconvenience reflects the fact that I am living in the largest city in this part of the world and a major tourist destination – lucky me!
Wedding Party
I stopped to reminisce at one of the less well-known spots overlooking Sydney Harbor on the way back  to where I live. At one end of my street is the harbor bridge; at the other end is a steep hill called “Observatory Hill” which features a telescope to see the stars at night, but is also covered with trees and sports stunning views of the harbor to the west. While I was there today a wedding caravan of three classic black and white cars pulled into the park for wedding photos and I think a ceremony. I feel rather fortunate to be living near and walking through such beautiful places on a regular basis – or even running through them to catch the train as I did later tonight to meet some friends for a birthday celebration downtown.
Maybe wearing my favorite tie helped to make this my favorite day in Sydney so far – I’ll never know. But what I do know is that I spent the last few moments before midnight sitting beneath the harbor bridge, looking across the water at the Sydney Opera house reflecting on how thankful I am to be here right now, in this place, with the opportunities that are before me: the friends, the studies, the church, the history, the food, the drinks, the train rides, and all the other adventures that await…if I will only have the courage to say yes to wearing a purple tie whenever I want to.
 Kevin with the Opera House