On Courage and Chaos

About three years ago, my plane landed down in California with an origin of Athens, Greece. When I first came home from my six-month adventure, I was mailed a stack of papers on reverse culture shock. I quickly tossed them in the recycling bin. After all, it’s not like I was coming back from somewhere too drastically different than home, so it would be easy to “readjust.”

In the months that followed, I found myself back in Oregon, back in school, back in what seemed like the same thing. I’d been here before, so you’d think it would be easy. I spent the next few months slowly drifting away into a state of boredom and grief. I missed everything about my island. I felt stagnant. Above all, I missed feeling like I was on a constant adventure.

Finally, one morning, I woke up determined to change the current molasses through which I was walking. I got a haircut. It was the shortest it had ever been and it had a wonderful ease with which I could flip it. I stopped in a little gift store and I bought a silver ring with the word “love” engraved all the way around it in seven different languages because, I mean, it’s all love. I also bought one of those cliché necklaces that are a silver circle with a word written on it. My word was “courage,” because, I mean, it takes courage to pull oneself out of a rut.

I began doing little things like purposefully turning down the wrong street in order to see a “distant land” I had never seen before. I started about a dozen different themed journals, meshing together my loves of arts, crafts, and language. Next thing I knew, I was wearing my courage necklace to New York for my next summer adventure. At some point in the last three years, I took the necklace off. I had landed well on my feet and it was time. I kept the ring on, however, as I once read a quote that said, “Marry yourself first and promise to never leave you,” and it just kind of stuck with me.

The first time I put on my courage necklace, it was to escape the chaos I felt my life was becoming at the time. Today, I put my necklace back on because I needed the courage to jump into the chaos. I put on my best feel-good outfit and some watch out lipstick and I quit my job. I am now a twenty something in D.C., unemployed, and tumbling down the rabbit hole, all by my own accord. Crazy? Maybe. Fiscally irresponsible? Quite possibly. Scary? I’ll let you know. But, a mistake? Absolutely not. For the chaos is juicy and the time is right.

These past few weeks, my mind has been full of this romantic imagery of working various temp jobs during the day and by night strumming my guitar outside the metro stop at Dupont Circle, singing sad songs about home, lost dreams, and broken hearts. The temp jobs at this point are viable, but I’m going to need to learn how to pick a good string instrument before I can follow through on the other half. For now, I’ll just lust after songs like Joni’s and wait for the day my songs can pluck the heart strings of the Californian diaspora of D.C.:

Not to mention, the competition for the melancholic, yet blissful musician spot already has some fierce competition. Today, as I ascended the escalator of the metro station at Dupont Circle, I exited to the beautiful sounds of a man with a guitar singing about home. His music made me float and I glided my way to this coffee shop with a smile on my face, head on with chaos, and ready. Therefore, perhaps I’ll consider skipping the “just getting by” street musician idea and stick to finding a position in affordable housing and homelessness policy.

The air today is perfect. Warm. That warm that has a chill to keep you from being lazy, but not enough to freeze you in your quest for change. The sun is out. The day is ripe.

The point is that today I intentionally jumped into pure potential chaos. Layers of the unknown surround all of my following moves. One might think it crazy to choose unemployment at an economic time like now. But it’s ok. I’ll be ok. Because it takes courage to shake yourself up a bit before you wake up one day and realize you forgot why you came here. I came to Washington to “do good,” to decrease social inequities, and to meet some great people while I do so. With courage and grit, that is exactly what I intend to do. And if all else fails, I’ll go join the Occupy folks down at McPherson Square.


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