Intentional Living

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I feel so desperately stuck, caught somewhere that isn’t here, isn’t there, really isn’t anywhere. 

What I feel is sometimes an intense bit of nostalgia, a longing for what was.  This past weekend, I was in Austin throwing a bachelorette party for one of my best friend’s who is getting married in two weeks.  Like any other gathering of old friends, much of the weekend was spent reminiscing over bits of our past that we shared together.  No doubt, memories of college to most people are typically painted with a happy, warm, glow.  It’s almost like the happiness that was felt was so intense that it poured into the surroundings of our memories, coloring them entirely beautiful.  Even the bad memories don’t seem so bad.  For example, one thing me and Natalie (the bride-to-be) always talk about is the only fight we ever had.  Ironically enough, it was over her and her finance’s (Brent’s) relationship when they first started dating.  At the beginning of Natalie and Brent, like every other real love story, they had their fair share of unknowns and ups and downs.  Natalie was indecisive, trying to figure things out betweeen her and Brent, and Brent was my best guy friend who was pretty passive – and somewhere in the intersection of their wants and personalities, they would often teeter between the realm of friendship and that world that’s entirely more.  One day, I got upset with her that she couldn’t make up her mind and we got into a fight over whether or not she would just decide to be with Brent in the firend world or the so-much-more one.  Needless to say, they eventually did start dating each other, and the rest IS history.  However, even this fight, which at the time must have been quite shocking because we yelled at one another for a good few minutes, is seemingly a good memory.  It represents to me how much I cared about her, and how much I cared about them.  Never mind that I never get into fights with friends and squabbles are a number 1 mood-ruiner for me, this fight simply signifies how much we knew each other and how close we were.  It really represents that I knew Natalie so well and she knew me so well.  I couldn’t imagine having the courage or the care to call someone out on something if I didn’t really know them.

So it leads me to think that what I feel, this longing that reminiscing brings out is more than mere nostalgia.  It’s not just that I miss college, or I miss simpler times – I do, it’s that I miss connecting with people the way I did in college, the way I was able to back then.  I miss having time to just sit with someone in a coffee shop and talk to them, ramble with them about life, love, politics, and what movie we would try and catch later.  I miss having time to watch movies, and sit afterwards, and engage in thought provoking discussion about the merits of the message.  I miss going on hour long walks and a good friend and then sitting at Whole Foods after.  I miss how much we were able to engage with people on a level that I hardly engage on anymore.  Now a days, most of the day is spent engaging on points like what to do, how to do something, what to eat, where to get an errand done, etc.  I miss engaging with people on our passions, dreams, life ambitions.

I can’t remember the last time I shared a dream with someone.  I may be grown up more, but I don’t think I’m done dreaming or hoping for the rest of my life yet.

One of my favorite things in my day is receiving emails from two girls I met while studying abroad in Hong Kong. (Both have incidentally turned into life long best friends.)  Most of the time we will email each other about how much we miss Hong Kong and how much we long for drinking wine for hours and talking, but through our emails, we have maintained the ability to dream with one another.  We share dislikes about our jobs, and what we wish we had, but even more than that we share dreams of running away together and starting a blog or a lawfirm focused on fashion.  Hey, who said these dreams had to be entirely realistic.  We allow each other to think the best is still ahead, and we seek to understand where our dreams stem from.  I can say that I know these girls, and that knowledge fills me.

In the book I’m reading, “The Social Animal.” by David Brooks, Brooks talks about the importance of connections (social ones) to the happiness of an individual.  He says connecting with someone on a regular weekly basis brings the same sense of happiness as getting your pay doubled at work.  He also says being married brings the same happiness as getting a $100,000 raise.  I think for me, that may be more like a million dollar raise, but that’s just me.  His point, and I agree with it entirely, is that happiness is found in social connections.  I will go further to say that my happiness is found in really getting to connect with people on a deep level.  Getting to understand what makes a person tick, makes them dream, makes them strive is one of the biggest joys in my life, and getting understood in those same ways is really important to my sense of self fulfillment.

It’s hard to really achieve sometimes because unfortunately, the more we grow, the more responsibility we carry, the more practical goals we take on, the less time we have to invest in people and in relationships.  When weeks are filled with 50+ hours at work being productive instead of 12+ hours at school somewhat joking off, there is automatically less time for the people around you.  But maybe, it doesn’t have to be as bad as that.  Perhaps admist the emails sent back and forth, the laborious research being performed, the shuffling from one intense activity to another, there can be time set aside for intentional relationship building.  Between the to dos, the must dos, and the I probably need to be doing things that advance our career and keep our lives organized, there needs to be a necessary amount of time set aside to know people and get known in the process.

I will still think of people I know fondly, and I will still miss time shared with them dearly, but maybe I won’t feel like I can’t continue to find and build relationships like I once had.

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