19

I turned 19 two days ago. I thought I’d scribble a few things down to look back on for myself in a year or two, or even five. It’d also be nice to think that others could maybe find in these coming paragraphs something noteworthy; so here goes:

  1. It’s August already, and I have come to find that staying in bed until twelve in the afternoon doesn’t exactly help to savour the little time that we have in each day— even if it can sometimes seem tedious.
  2. Time is fleeting, and you’ll want to set yourself unlikely goals. You know your limits – so stick to them and work with them. I think you’ll accomplish the most in you favour this way.
  3. Take any given opportunity to travel. The very essence of knowing the world is to see it.
  4. Do things that are invaluable to you. For me, it’s this: draw as much as you can, whenever you can.
  5. Create artwork, and you’ve got to learn how to use oil paints soon.
  6. Savour the world around you at times. It can be wondrously refreshing to relinquish everyday thoughts and just stop and look. There’s a wonderful quote to accompany this one: “When you weren’t looking, the sun got behind you! The only way to keep things slow was to watch everything and do nothing! You could stretch a day to three days, sure, just by watching!” – Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
  7. Read more. Read as much as you possibly can.
  8. Do what you can for this planet. Let it know that you are doing what you can.
  9. Write more— be it blogposts or letters, essays or marginalia; take time out of your day to do something worthwhile.
  10. Don’t try to adhere to societal standards (whatever they may be); start and stop when you want to; do what you know is right.
  11. Don’t dream your life; live your dream.
  12. Understand that people do things because they think it’s right; people don’t change for you when you want them to. Sometimes, they can only learn themselves, so be forgiving.
  13. Everything is here and happens for a reason; whether people may agree with you or not, please never lose faith in that.
  14. Be kind to others, even if they do not return it, and do not expect anything in return for favours; be generous.
  15. Practice languages other than English; never forget Japanese or Italian.
  16. Speak to your grandparents more. They hold so much more wisdom than you think.
  17. Don’t hold onto the past; relinquish past misunderstandings and mistakes; live right now.
  18. It’s okay to feel misunderstood and precluded. These kinds of things happen. The most important thing is to learn from them.
  19. Finally— live to enjoy every minute.
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Here’s to new beginnings.

2016 seems to have arrived unwaveringly, striding through the threshold of time without once looking back. But before beginning this year, I wanted to take time to thank 2015 for all the opportunities and new experiences it has given me; I am very grateful.

What would a new year be without slurs of resolutions and talks of new beginnings? Newly regimented exercise schemes that are never started, aims to study harder never really accomplished – the list goes on.

Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour.

Above is a remark made by Ovid, a long time ago.

Instead of failed resolutions and disappointment, know that some things are destined and some are, well, not. Be patient and content and confident; the course of nature will find its way to you. I have been inspired by Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’, which I am in the process of finishing. It has given me hope – a mere fable, but a story so touching and profound. It has been a great start to the new year.

It’s odd to think that this new year really will mean a new adventure for me. I leave to Japan in early January: the beginning of my true gap year. I look forward to what fate has kindly predestined for me.

Just a book

‘The Book Thief’, it was called. The book that changed my life.

I love loosing myself in words. Wandering into the abyss of imagination and wonder: becoming lost, and wishing it could last eternally; wading in a sea of thought that seems to extend forever.

Just like Liesel, I found myself marvelling at the power of words.

When I finally came to the last few lines of the novel, tears spewing uncontrollably from my eyes, I read slowly, with trepidation. Why? Looking back now, I think it was because I did not want it to end. This book – these words – had given me a way to escape into a fictional dream, ignited with colours and life.

Before the very end, I experienced a flash of the scenes of people and emotion that was created with words: Liesel, who read to her neighbours in a crowded basement, Max painting the tightrope towards the sun, the stars that burned his eyes, Hans’ silver eyes and his accordion, death himself…

The paradoxical themes of innocence and destruction consumed me. Like the narrator, I questioned how beauty yet so much pain could coexist. He says,

I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

This book filled the empty shell of my imagination and curiosity. So little gave me so much.

For that reason, it is not just a book, but rather a wonderful, intricate collection of words thought through with inscrutable detail, creating a fictional dream in which you can perambulate forever; a world which allows you to stride beyond human imagination – words so powerful, they make you concede the notion of what at first you thought was not imaginable. I became part of that extrinsic imagination, and I struggle to figure out whether I’d ever like to leave.

Planning a Gap Year!

For all you people who have decided to take a gap year – planning it may possibly be the hardest but most rewarding part of it. It’s ultimately going to lead you to places you’ve never been before, never experienced or explored; it’s definitely worth the effort and time.

Since I’m just beginning my gap year, I thought I’d make a post on how I’ve planned mine so far, and then I shall also make an updated blog post once I have ended my gap year, to give advise about my planning process and what went well/not so well.

My Gap Year Plan:

September – December 

A volunteering internship at WaterAid 

I have just started as an Internal Communications and Learning Volunteer, which so far, has been amazing. The people working there are so lovely, and it is so rewarding to work with those who can appreciate what I do. By that I mean current global issues, NGO work, charities, fundraising, global warming; the list just goes on. I am so excited to be working there.

December/January – May/June

Travel to Japan

This is where my adventure will really begin. I will be travelling to Japan for roughly 5 months and staying with family, working, volunteering, exploring, learning, and so much more.

June – September 

Volunteering with ICS

Although not completely confirmed yet, I will hopefully be volunteering abroad with ICS – a government-funded volunteering programme for those in the UK. I am excited as to where this adventure will take me!

September/October 

University!


I know this has made it seem simple, and for those of you perhaps comparing it to your own gap year, every gap year is wonderful in it’s own way! It’s not always going to be the same, but that is the point of a gap year – to explore the things that you’re excited and passionate about! For me, that thing is volunteering. Knowing that you’ve made a difference, even if it’s small, is the most rewarding experience for me. So that’s what I’m doing.

“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.” – Chbosky