Here we go. The final day of the 7 day blog challenge from Live Your Legend.
Final prompt: What revolution will you lead?
Looking back at my answers from the week, the answer must have something to do with dreams. So I’m going to do what I do best: daydream.
There’s an open field, grey like a battlefield in a chain-mail movie. Dying grass beneath my booted feet, pale mountains in the distance. I’m reminded of the Ace of Swords in the Rider Waite Tarot Deck.
A symbol for mental clarity and victory, this card (for me, right now) is about accepting destiny. I’m not sure I believe in true destiny, but the image is strong.
Back to the battlefield. I’m the leader of an army. I’m the Ace of Swords. With weapon in hand and stoic expression on my face, I turn around. Standing behind me is none-other than….
My mother. My aunt. The two women I can’t inspire. The two strong women with desk jobs who willingly let their dreams die.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a desk job. However, my mom wanted to be an artist. My aunt wants to live in Scotland and do who knows what else. But they can’t, because they truly believe that working at these jobs and owning houses too large for them is what they’re supposed to do. It makes me so damn sad.
They dropped their swords. And it’s not just them! Sometimes I feel surrounded on all fronts by people who refuse to change their lifestyle because they think it’s wrong or impossible. They come with excuse after excuse for why they have to keep living this way.
My mom won’t sell the house and go for a smaller one because she doesn’t think there would be enough room. She’s right. We have way too much shit. But living smaller means living simpler. Obviously, I’m a huge advocate of tiny houses. I’ll get to that in the coming weeks.
Let’s focus on the task at hand, Eva.
Yesterday I wrote that some people say I have my head in the clouds. I hate hearing that for two reasons.
1. It means they think I’m naive.
2. It means they’ve failed somehow. They dropped their swords and didn’t pick them up again.
I want these people to rally behind me. I want to be like that kid in the DreamWorks logo fishing from the moon, and I want to fish for the Neg Heads and Nay Sayers. And I want to pull them up! I want them to stand by me!
The only way I know how to lead is the way my dad taught me: Lead by example. All I have to do to front the revolution I want to lead is live in a tiny home, travel, and shout about it from the tiny rooftops. Maybe someone will hear me. And when I think about it like that, it doesn’t sound impossible.
That’s all for today.
Fine. The real prompt is: What difference do you want to make?
That’s either a super easy question or a very challenging one.
Easy answer: I want to inspire people, I want people to love traveling, I want fewer people to feel stuck at their desk jobs.
That’s what I’m supposed to say.
But really, do I even want to make a difference? Isn’t that a bit grandiose for Little Ole Me? Do I mean any of the kind-hearted answers I gave above? If so, why do I only think about myself lately? Seriously, my brain is 30% UK travel plans, 30% which tiny trailer should I move into when I come back from the UK, 30% I don’t have enough money for my desires, and 10% bitching about working every single day. Did you notice how ZERO PERCENT involves anyone else? I can’t focus on making a difference in the world if I’m 100% consumed with myself. It’s just not how things work.
Yesterday I wrote my Elevator Pitch. When people ask what I do, I’m supposed to tell them what excites me, not what my jobs are. I landed on, “I’m a traveling storyteller”. I don’t know if I have the gumption to make such claims to strangers, but that was yesterday’s choice.
Still, it got me thinking, and all that thinking made me angry (tbh it doesn’t take much). When people make small talk with me, they ask where I went to school and what I majored in. University of Minnesota with a degree in Art, double minor in Film Studies and Cultural Studies in Comparative Literature. Then they ask, “What are you going to do with that?” AND I
HATE DISLIKE THEM FOR IT IMMEDIATELY! Why does every Get To Know You session begin with how I’m making a career out of an art degree?
But I’m polite, so I swallow my angst and say, “My art degree wasn’t just about making artwork. It prepared me to be a creative problem solver, and that skill translates to any field.” Which is true. Then I tell them what I really like to do.
I say: I like to travel. That’s what I really want to do with my life.
Then I wait.
They will reply with one of two things.
1. That’s so cool!
2. You have your head in the clouds.
OOOO it makes me mad. To be fair, most #2s sugar-coat their comment with politeness. Like, “Wouldn’t that be nice.” They toss my dream aside because it sounds like a permanent vacation. They don’t know that traveling can be super hard and stressful. I mean, I’ve lived with rats, spiders the size of a child’s hand, showered for a month without soap, and when I go to another country everything I own must fit in my backpack.
But you know what? I do have my head in the clouds. I wish more people did. That’s the difference I want to make.
“The real goal of our pitch is to talk about something you’re excited about and get a feel for how others react to it.” [Prompt and quote by the late, great Scott Dinsmore.]
Prompt 5: What’s your elevator pitch?
Rough draft of my elevator conversation:
Unbiased stranger: What do you do?
Possible new response:
I save money for travel
I travel the world to
gain more gather stories and tell them to people.
I travel the world and tell stories. I travel the world and write.
Fewer words: I’m a traveling storyteller. Remember that from last time?
Sure, that moves a pawn forward, but are they going to take my bishop with some shit like “Wow, you’re young. I remember when I had my head in the clouds too.”?
And still, am I really a traveling storyteller? Is that even what I want to do? Well, yeah! Those are two of my favorite things combined! That’s my version of, “I drink and I know things”.
So excited for Game of Thrones S7E1 TONIGHT! And I don’t even have to work!
Today’s Prompt: What’s one thing you’re proud of?
I’ll keep this one short because the liquor store closes soon and I’m out of wine.
I’m proud that I went to China by myself in 2015. It was my first solo trip, and also the first time I felt in control of my own life. Taking the leap to live in Beijing for 3 months was somehow easy, as if it was I was a superhero emerging from the ashes of a fallen building. In my case, the fallen building was the most recent semester. I was wickedly depressed, my grades were poor and I had so much late work*, and no desire to stay in college (though I had merely one semester left).
Then I was left at the airport. Some miscommunication that I still don’t understand left me without a chauffeur, and I had to take a taxi to my apartment. I had no idea where my apartment was, and neither did my driver.
We communicated in broken English, broken Chinese, and Google Translate. I got to my apartment. I waited, but my roommate wasn’t there. Instead I saw a man about my age, who knew me from pictures and told me to follow him. So I did (because why not), and it turns out he was roommate #2, who I didn’t know about. He showed me around the apartment speaking both a little English and the easiest Chinese he could manage, which I still didn’t understand half of. Roommate #1, Lydia, arrived, and the three of us went to dinner. It’s a happy memory.
Sorry for not keeping this short. Essentially, I’m proud that I took the initiative to unhook myself from my tethers.
*On the way to the airport, just a few hours before my flight took off, my mom took me to school so I could drop off a late paper that I had finished that morning. Then I went to fucking China.
I accepted this challenge with a grain of salt, thinking: Challenges are silly and cheesy. Faux inspirational. But in reality, this feels a little like school (the better parts of it). I have a schedule (that I control!), drafts to turn in, and I know someone else will be reading whatever I write. Sounds pretty handy.
Prompt 3 of the Live Your Legend writing challenge asks: What do people thank you for? Also, what do you love helping people with? What would you be happy and excited to help others with even if you didn’t get paid? These questions are to get me thinking about the things I’m best at.
Things people thank me for. The list is pretty short. Yikes.
- Listening. Sometimes, people need to vent. And when I’m nearby, I usually let them vent to me. I like when they walk away from me feeling even a tiny bit better.
- Inspiring them to travel. This gets me excited. I love talking about travelling, and I love telling people my travel stories. I especially love the part at the end of the conversation that goes something like this,
Person: Wow, Eva! You’ve done so much! I wish I could travel.
Me: Where would you go if you could?
Person: I’ve always wanted to go to Greece.
Me: Greece? You can do that. Easy.
For me, talking about travelling is akin to taking shots of espresso. I feel so energized. Remembering all the amazing experiences I’ve had, all the possibilities my future travels will bring–all these things make my brain happy.
- Helping proofread. I have a friend who exchanges poetry with me. We help each other proofread, brainstorm, edit, suggest, la la la. Editing with her puts me into hyperfocus. Nothing else exists, not even time. Only the work. This is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow.
Now, I will demonstrate the simple magic of merging all the things you love to do into one, Super Dream Career.
Traveling storyteller. Like Renate Stoller in Nancy Drew.
Look at that chair. That face!
That could be me.
Today, I was given the prompt: what makes you really angry about the world?
Ha! So much. But let’s focus on one major issue: The environment. I hear all the time that it’s a complicated problem. Politics are involved. Where will the money come from? Climate change isn’t even real.
Climate change is real, you idiots. You FOOLS. And the world has the technology to combat the issue.
Here’s what’s happening:
Earth: Hey, Humans. I can’t breathe. Can you stop destroying me? I’m dying over here. I have a fever. I’m cold in places I don’t want to be cold in. I’m hot in places I don’t want to be hot in. If you could all be a little nicer–
Humans: Your problems aren’t real.
It’s so easy to be better to the Earth, and you already know how. Eat less meat, recycle, don’t buy plastic water bottles ever again, don’t drive gas-guzzlers, etc. SO EASY. Easy on an individual scale, that is.
What about big corporations? From where I stand, at the bottom of the pit, in the dark abyss, the top companies in the world are all about $$$.
When did greed become the code for modern society? Who the hell is at the very top of the corporate food chain going over the books, saying NO to solar, NO to wind, NO to more sustainable products? People are still going to buy shit. It’ll cost a bit up front, but you jerks have the money. Just fucking do it.
Jeepers creepers, guys. I tell ya.
What about you? What makes you angry about the world?
On this blog, I mean. We don’t need to have an existential talk. This post is part 1 of a 7-day challenge from Live Your Legend.
I started writing this blog because I’m horribly unorganized. I have almost a dozen journals filled to the brim with rants, prose, doodles and poems.
On wordpress, all my [new] stuff is right here, either saved as a draft or published. I can directly see my progress as a writer and after a while, all my little posts add up to a large body of work. I don’t have to bring old journals with me wherever I go, because they’re all on my phone.
What I want, by the time this blog’s 1 year anniversary comes around, is a large body of writing that I can be proud of. I can look back at 2017, however shitty or great it turns out to be, and say, “I wrote.” Maybe I’ll cringe at all the commas. Maybe not.
It’s been a while since I wrote here and I’ll tell you why. JOBS. Two of them.
This is newly written, and like my earlier stream of consciousness poem, I took a whole page and threw out some words.
here’s a legible version:
I to my perils
came not like A.E. Housman
clad in armor by stars benign.
I swam to them in my PJs
water logged, hair kinked
and trouble was a bonfire.
I was the mosquito and the jet was my blood meal.
Whoever shaved before 8th grade wished too hard for time to pass
and passing is the great curse and gift of prickly knees.
I dragged myself through marshes by tufts of leg hair
to which I gleamed a shining eye to Hope
I’d not trifle with a fleeting love
or mad money and me, the poet,
the victim of my own desires.
If I was a better friend, the last line
would have been my own design.
Below is a stream of consciousness poem I wrote an hour ago. Lots of imagery potential here! Today I thought I’d share how I usually approach poem writing.
- Write rough cut in pen or marker
- Run away from it! It needs time to rest.
- Look at it with an unbiased mind
- Say “hey this isn’t so bad”
- Say “except this right here is awful”
- Run away again
- Read it aloud
- Fine tune
- Publish or
- Put it away until I run out of ideas
- Return when I’m a better writer and revise