Okay guys. This one is so important, I haven’t even taken a real shower yet… sitting here in my grimy travel clothes to get some important thoughts out. Let me tell you about a little camp, on a little bay, on a little side, of a medium-sized island, off of a big state called California. Lost yet? It’s the Catalina Island Marine Biology Institute.
Ask yourself, if you had three science teachers who you absolutely adored, and they came to you with a plan to take a school trip to an island off the California Coast to go snorkeling and play with the Sea Lions, would you also stand up and salute the flag of the United States of America? Probably not, unless you were pretty patriotic and into that sort of thing… but you’d probably sign up wouldn’t you? Great! We have some common ground then.
Right off the bat we went snorkeling in blueberry-colored wetsuits. Loved it. A few hours later we went out again after the sun went down and when we had gotten the hang of it, we were splashing the water in the dark until we could see bio-luminescent glitter sparkling around our feet and arms. Later, we hiked to see the sunrise and instead of just that, we were given a morning light show featuring every color in the paint palette, complete with a molten-orange sun, which we realized was not the one moving, we were. For the first time, I actually saw the figures in the constellations as described by their names. A belt, a sword, a bull, a dog, there they were like glittering connect-the-dots with a series of confusing yet compelling stories attached. At another point, I thought I was really cool and painted the seascape while my feet contracted hypothermia in the sand. This morning, leaving, it felt like the final scene to a movie. We were piled on the ferry. We waved goodbye to our counselors and as we slowly slipped away, they waved back and dove into the ocean in waves.
Don’t you love being humbled by cool things? Nature for example. I feel like a krill or a plankton right now. I am nothing compared to everything, yet I am something and that’s important too. My religion teaches similar lessons, but it doesn’t sink in until applied and here was a prime example. I found peace in a place where I could accept myself and be boggled by Heavenly Father’s masterpiece at the same time.
Unbelievably sad on the trip back home, I wrote down some lessons I never want to forget. Mostly these are for me and my future self, but they’re also yours if you want them too.
1) My she-homies and I were sitting on a bridge during some minutes of free time at some point with our feet dangling over a stream that led out to the ocean a few feet away, and ironically enough, we were talking about friends who we experienced bridge-burning experiences with and whether or not that was a bad thing. On one hand, some bridges have to go sometime, the “friends for a season” theory, and that can be totally okay and on the other hand, sometimes it’s better to work on the bridge and make it stronger.
2) How important it is to stay busy, and not be idle. If you run out of things to do, leave your comfort zone. Be interactive with the human race. Push what you believe your limits are. Challenge old doubts and set new goals.
3) Wake up early and crash hard each and every night.
4) Kind of a weird but solid sea metaphor: Without Plankton, the entire ecosystem would crash and burn. Without the small things we take for granted, we wouldn’t be here. So appreciate them on a greater scale.
5) Bison. I apologize, another metaphor. There are small Bison on the island, which are still huge creatures but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought the counselors were having an elaborate leg-pulling fest when I saw one dozing in the quad when we came into camp. They’re pygmy bison though, their structures have shrunk to adapt to a smaller ecosystem. So don’t be like the bison and get trapped on a metaphorically small island, like your house or a small community. Let yourself move and expand. Maybe that means travel, maybe that means reach out to people you normally wouldn’t, whatever the case; give yourself room to grow and build a larger character.
6) Your 20’s are a time to go and have an adventure. Take care of your body and get good at what you love while not being afraid to learn something new. Mix it with seeking a great education, and don’t be afraid of smaller schools.
7) Take advantage of all the natural wonders in your community. Earth is a gift, unwrap it.
8) Friendship shouldn’t have age boundaries. Don’t prevent yourself from building those bridges just because they happened to be born a year that wasn’t same year you were. And if those bridges stay strong, it won’t matter in 10… 20 years, and you’ll be so glad you made friends with a fifth grader on the way to Catalina Island when he’s a rock star Paleontologist and great listener who you’ll be able to call and complain to someday.
9) Any idiot can take a picture. It takes someone special to sit, watch, and wait and for something beautiful. Those memories will be more useful to you in your brain storage than in your computer storage. Then take the picture, but let the memory of the moment sit with you.
10) And lastly, sometimes social media can make us feel like we can never be alone. Like when we’re walking by ourselves, and see a stranger coming from the opposite direction, that we need to pull out a phone and pretend we’re texting or calling someone. You know yourself better than anyone, so why not get to know your own mind and strengths before you put them out in front of the world? Work on not just building a self-esteem, but retaining it, so that eventually, you can be sure of yourself in front of anybody.
Slideshow time! To set the mood:
Thanks dear reader for doing what you do best here… have an amazing week!
Oh yeah, guess who said yes?
When the family picked me up from the airport they said that a big envelope had come for me while I was gone with a big red U on the front. We got to the parking garage where I opened it and started bawling into my dad’s shoulder. I’m going to college.