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Geese and Groban

USA | Thursday, 3 September 2009 | Views [236]

I was driving through Mentor a few hours ago on the way to the grocery store and dry cleaner. I had already sent off my passport and Visa app to the Korean Consulate in Chicago. Now all I have to do is wait for them to get ahold of me for the interview (HOPEFULLY phone or webcam) and pack. Anyway, as I was driving I looked up and saw a flock of Canada geese flying in a V shape. Fall's here already - early this year. The leaves are already turning colors.

But it was the geese that struck me for a moment. Canada geese have been flying north and south over the town for untold thousands of years. The leaves always change color. The seasons pass one into a next - birth, maturing, harvest, and back to sleep/death. There I was in the middle of this big town and there were geese flying overhead like they always have done. It's enough to make you feel a bit small. Mankind can build stunning achievements. They can construct skyscrapers, send people to the Moon, communicate instantaneously across the internet... Yet, we are a passing thing. Rather inconsequential in the scheme of things. The geese still fly overhead. The seasons stil change. Nature moves on.

A line from Jurrasic Park as said by Ian Malcolm comes to mind. It went something like this: "We cannot destroy the Earth. We can only destroy ourselves. Say there is a nuclear war and we destroy pretty much everything. Life will still survive somewhere even if it's only as bacteria. And life will evolve again into more complex forms. Maybe not as we would recognize it but life all the same. Life finds a way. We cannot save the world but maybe, just maybe, we can save ourselves." I always really liked that passage and I've remembered it even though I haven't read that book in years.

We Humans think we are masters of this planet. We think we have everything under control and are so incredibly powerful. But, it's all the greatest illusion. We're fooling ourselves. Mankind's greatest delusion. We think we are in control and then we are all shocked when a Katrina hits or there's a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Our technology fails us and all our great achievements and skills are all but useless in the face of nature. And, yet, we all too often fail to learn from the mistakes of the past. Money, politics, major coporations, and complacency - "It couldn't happen to me" - all contribute to needed changes not getting made. Look at Global Warming! All the scientific evidence is there. The climate is changing. It's plain to see. And yet, change to perhaps correct the problem is very very slow to happen and many people are still in denial.

Is it Human nature to destroy? Somewhat. It's also human nature to love, show friendship, hate, make war, show courage, be afraid, and so many things besides. We are complex creatures and I think we are often far too busy shouting loudly trying to get our own views across and make it in the rat race to just listen. Listen to the world around us - the geese flying overhead, the wind in the leaves, the birds, the ocean... all the beautiful sounds of nature that make up the greatest symphony in creation. We try to drown it out with our engines, our own versions of music, our voices and yet, even in the heart of the largest cities in the world the wildsong can still be heard. Aren't there pigeons on Wall Street? There are Palm Trees on Hollywood Blvd. The Han River flows through Seoul. And the wind blows no matter where we build. The rain falls and the sun, moon, and stars shine up above.

We try to drown out the song and say we are so superior but who is to say we are any better or happier than the geese? We have language, yes, but so do they of a sort. They have their own form of love as well. A goose mates for life. They search for food, they travel countless miles. They grieve. The grief of a goose who loses their mate is a truly tragic thing. They fight to defend their families and nests just as we fight to defend our own. And, long after our cities fall, our bones and books turn to dust, and there is nothing left of us - not even a memory - the geese or others like them will be flying over what was once Mentor Ohio. The geese certainly won't notice when I am not there in the spring to see them fly back. "And the band played on..." Or, in this case, the wildsong.

I must be in a philosophical mood today. Maybe it's the fact that I'm moving halfway around the world in a few weeks. I was listening to Josh Groban in the car. He's one of my favorite singers. I LOVE his baritone. I was playing the song "Believe" from "The Polar Express." Yes, I know, it's a Christmas song and September just started but it is gorgeous. I like the last line of the refrain "You have everything you need if you just believe." Belief in something seems rather essential to us Humans. Be it a belief in some sort of higher power, in magic, our friends, or ourselves. If we believe we can do truly great things. Many of mankind's greatest achievements have happened because people truly believed. Just look at the space race of the 1960s and how we put a man on the moon. The entire country believed in that even though it should seem impossible. They believed, they got behind NASA and all those involved, and we achieved.

I think belief in oneself is very important. You have to believe in yourself. Decide what you want most, believe you can do it, and just go about doing what you need to do to get it done. Sometimes, that means taking a REALLY huge leap without knowing for sure where you're going to end up or if there'll be anyone to catch you if you miss your landing.

For instance, me and Korea. I decided I wanted to have an adventure - especially after reading all David's travel blogs and looking at his pictures. I asked him where he got a lot of his jobs and he pointed me at google. From there I found websites on teaching in Korea. Right then and there I decided that was what I was going to do and nothing was going to stop me. I didn't stop to seriously think that "WOW! That's a long LONG way away and I don't know anyone. How will I handle the homesickness? I don't even know any Korean. How am I going to find my way around and even do basic shopping?" Well, I thought about it some but instead of being impediments in my mind they actually were pluses.

I wanted an adventure. I wanted to get out of my basement bedroom, out of Cleveland, out of the US, and out of living my life vicariously through others and my audiodramas. Gaia is fantastic and I'm not giving it up but making Gaia in my little bedroom isn't living. I want to live life large with no regrets, never say die, never give up, and make every moment count. I wanted that and once I saw a way to do it I got the Visa documents together, got myself the job, and now, in about three weeks I'm off to move to Korea for a year. And, after that year.... Well, I'm certainly NOT going to be moving back to my basement. There's a whole beautiful world out there full of adventure and I'm going to teach and couchsurf my way across all of it! I believe I can do it. I KNOW I can do it, and, damn it, I'm GOING to do it. The years of living at home are over and I've a life to lead.

I think everyone needs to take that sort of leap at least once in their life. If you stop and think too hard on things you can talk yourself out of everything. And, then, so many years down the road, you'll be sitting somewhere and wondering, what if... What if I had taken that leap? What if I had asked that guy/girl out on that date? What if I had taken that job? What if I had left home? What if... What if... What if... How much happier would we be if we tried for lives that held fewer what ifs? It doesn't have to be moving to Korea - nothing that large at first. How about what if everyone just did a baby what if. What if I decided to talk a walk in the park with my best friend instead of watching that TV show? What if I called up so and so who I haven't talked to in a very long time and asked them to have dinner? What if I brought my Mom flowers on a Tuesday just to tell her I love her?

There are so many small what ifs we pass by in life every day because, we as a society, are taught to pass them by. We are taught to conform - birth, school (get good grades), college (major in something to make good money), grad school (to make even more money), marry, settle down, find a good paying job, be successful, get older, get sick, retire, and eventually die. I'm not saying that's a bad life. Many people want just that in life and if that's what makes them happy then all the power to them. But, we are taught to focus on money, power, politics, and success - the bigger picture. We're all working so damn hard to get ahead that we forget to stop and smell the roses, pay attention to the little things, and to actually LIVE.

So, what are your what ifs? What are things that you would like to do in your life that you think you can't? What are some things you could do to enrich your life and those of others around you? Big, small, somewhere in between... Really think about your what ifs and see if you can turn them from what ifs into realities.

What if I got out of my house and had an adventure across the face of this world?

Well, I tell you, folks. I've already taken the first step to find out. It is far away from home. I've never lived in another country before. I'm not rich. I don't speak Korean. I've never had a classroom of my own before. I've never had an apartment of my own before. I do have a laptop, a camera, a videocamera, and I know I will succeed. I know I will because I believe I will and I will make it happen. I will see the world and live life to the fullest. In that I believe and, really, in the end, that's what matters the most.

So, thank you geese and Josh Groban. I'll see you in Seoul!

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