What’s Important Is Within Us

While traveling, we can’t take with us the things which fill our home — those items, feelings, and memories captured which express who we are and what we’ve been through.

We can choose to bring all that we have when on the move — or we can let go.

I gave away and sold most of my things when I left my home in San Diego. It was difficult in some ways, but honestly, it was liberating.

I have with me a suitcase and a backpack. I didn’t wipe the slate completely clean — I have a box at home in my parents’ house. My friends have most of my books. 🙂

But what’s important to me now is that which I carry inside of me — my spirit, my essence, the incremental wisdom that I’ve gained; the memories that I’ve made.

By moving through the world with an unburdened spirit and by expressing who I am, I feel I’m continually changing.

Not into something I’m not, but into a truer version of who I am; the journey of our lives is about discovering who that is.

Yesterday morning, it looked like it was going to rain. I left for the park to get in a quick workout. If it rained while I was out, that would make me happy too.

There’s a calisthenics park not too far away from the hostel where I work and live that has become part of my routine.

I’m starting to recognize familiar faces; I wave as I pass Alzeda’s flower shop nearby; I found a solid grocery store and have my favorite route to get here, through the Jardim do Torel which overlooks the city of Lisbon.

This is me now — part of my past, looking towards the future, doing whatever I can to cherish the present.

It can feel like we must hold on to the past, capture the present; I’m contending with this myself.

Why do I write and take photos?

Because part of me doesn’t want to forget the details of life, and I feel like I have to capture them with words and pictures.

Time goes by so quickly, and it’s hard to watch it go. We might look in the mirror and not recognize who we see. Maybe that’s a good thing — but it might make us afraid.

Life is nothing without change, yet we decide what stays and what goes.

“While having is based on something that is diminished by used,” writes Erich Fromm in To Have or To Be, “being grows by practice. The powers of reason, of love, of artistic and intellectual creation, all essential powers, grow through the process of being expressed. What is spent is not lost. But on the contrary. What is kept is lost; the only threat to my security in being lies in myself. In the lack of faith in life, and in my productive powers.”

Perhaps that’s what it means to grow, to shed the weight that doesn’t serve us.

What’s supposed to remain, what we carry within us — will.

We retain what’s truly important, the love in our hearts, the color of our soul, the essence of our being, paradoxically — by expressing without refrain.

The things we have don’t make us who we are. Not even our job title, the stats that fill our resume or our accolades.

It’s what we’re willing to give away which defines us; ultimately, that’s love.

The beauty of it is the more we give the more we get; love is boundless.

While at the park, breathing in the cool morning air, I ran through a Qigong routine that I began while living in San Diego over the last two years. A friend at work who I’d become close with had shown me a basic technique.

When I put my hands together and push the energy into the sky I’m not losing it, but generating more. It’s the vibration I’ve brought from San Diego, the most formative season of my life.

It’s the memories of the friend I made, who today I’ve realized, affected me deeply.

I push that life into the sky, the spirit that I’ve brought with me, my past and present, together in Lisbon.

On my way home, I bought a bouquet of orange and yellow flowers from Alzeda. I bought them to bring color to the hostel on this cloudy day.

We live in a world that makes little sense. There’s incomprehensible war; there’s the pain we all experience at some point or another — but there are also flowers.

“I must have flowers,” said the artist Claude Monet, “always, and always.”

I wonder what he truly meant. To look at them, to be around them, to hold the petals in his hands; yet like life, like who we are as human beings, flowers do not last forever.

Is it corny to say that we are like flowers?

That flowers represent the good in this world?

Perhaps, but I think Monet was on to something.

You can buy a bouquet of flowers at a corner store, or perhaps you’ll find a loose petal on the street or blowing in the wind, juxtaposed against the grey sky, vivid in the rain.

Flowers burst in different colors — they change with the seasons — they wither and return to earth. There’s a wildness to their imperfection that evokes the spirit of impermanence, of change, of earth’s seasons.

Each stage of change is beautiful, each a part of life.

The joy that flowers bring me is a part of who I am; I carry that joy with me.

Flowers give me hope.

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