Essential Growth Comes from Having Our Perspectives Challenged

I CAN FEEL my soul pushing against its walls.

I’m back in Lisbon after a few days in Portugal’s gem of the north, Porto.

I met some incredible people at my hostel on a similar path as me, who feel within their bones this need to take a chance, and perhaps live a life that’s unconventional, yet essential to who they are.

It rained in Porto day and night, and the sun came out intermittently throughout.

The sun felt brilliant when it would shine through the clouds, yet the rain gave the city a certain grit which fueled my exploration.

I would duck under awnings, splash through puddles, and seek certain angles just to watch the rain fall. The rain provides a reason to just sit a listen for a while.

As I meandered solo along the cobblestone streets, through gardens and along the river, I realized something essential about myself:

I feel most comfortable, most inspired and full of life when I’m out in the world, experiencing it and taking in the sights and sounds and feelings — hopefully I’m giving something back in return.

At this point you might be imagining:

And while I wish I was strutting down the streets of Porto busting out in song and dance like Gene Kelly, it’s not quite like that.

Being out in the world, observing the movement, the changes, the subtleties, the magic of life — it opens up my heart and soul.

That is why I love to write; it’s all of life I long to savor; the joy and the pain, the sun and the rain; being out in the world makes me think deeply, about myself, about people, about my actions and who I am, about what this world means to me.

It means so damn much.

On this European journey, I’ve had my preconceived notions challenged about what I think and know about the world.

Since I’m here on my own, there’s no old Vinny to return to which people will recognize; I’m crafting who I am with each new conversation. I’m becoming who I am by letting go and opening up my inner walls.

There’s no comfort zone when we’re in the unknown, only the space within ourselves, which is only known to each of us as individuals.

“If I am who I am and not what I have,” writes the philosopher Erich Fromm in To Have or To Be? “nobody can deprive me of or threaten my security and my sense of identity. My center is within myself. My capacity for being and expressing my essential powers is part of my character structure, and depends on me.”

I’ve been uncertain of myself. I wonder what it truly is that I’m after.

That’s something that I’ll continue grappling with, and I’m nothing but grateful to have a question worth pursuing.

What I’ve realized is that we all come from somewhere — we all come from home. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, because we’re individual human beings.

But to learn — that is why I’m here.

I want to learn about this world, and that starts with admitting how little I know.

But I’m open — to other ways of living, to new perspectives, to whatever and whoever life puts in front of me.

It’s been eye opening talking to people, seeing how they think, how they view me and where I come from, what they fear and think is possible.

As I continue meeting people, I see that we’re more alike than we’re different.

We want to feel love, connection, friendship; we want to live our own lives, not what’s expected of us.

We want to feel accepted and at home in this world.

What does it mean to feel at home?

Home is a place to make your own. A place to be you. A place to share your light, your love, your essence, your color.

A place we call home changes as we do — it evolves and grows. It looks beautiful in different shades of day.

It withers with age, just like the ancient cities of the world — yet that’s what gives them character, charm, a different kind of life as if reborn on a new day, when things begin to make sense again in a different way.

A home changes in the night. It’s where friends come together and laugh, share stories, eat together, relax.

Our home changes in the moonlight — sitting on the steps of ancient castles, I’ve felt the years of beautiful decay.

The sounds are different, the air is cooler, sweeter; I feel comfortable out there in the world, late at night in the silence.

I feel so grateful to be alive.

I’ve learned so far that I have a limited perspective of the world, of Europe; I’m learning that I shouldn’t feel ashamed of that.

All we can do is continue expanding our knowledge of people, of the world, and thus ourselves.

I have a limited perspective of the world, yet I have a fierce desire to learn.

I believe that’s all that matters.

I feel something out there.

I feel love, for love is the answer; where we fear, love is the answer; where we’re afraid, love is the answer.

Where we’re weak, or timid, or feeling lost, love is the answer.

Even where we feel rejected or inadequate in our skin, we may always return to love.

This world is our home, and we are at home in this world and in the bodies and souls we’ve been given.

I’ll do everything I can to embrace this life with a willing heart and open arms. We’re home. That’s something always to remember no matter how the world may make us feel.

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