Moments in Time

Barcelona

When looking back on any trip, it is wonderful to think about all of the amazing sights and monuments you had the opportunity to witness. Maybe you saw one of the most famous paintings in the world, or saw a magnificent palace constructed hundreds of years ago. These are fond memories; you are almost proud of what you were able to see with your own eyes. However, it is not the sights that make a trip so memorable. The most memorable part of any trip are specific moments in time that move you in some way.

I specifically took this picture not only in reaction to the beautiful nature of the subject, but rather to try to capture the moment I had when I first witnessed this breathtaking view. Park Güell, one of Gaudí’s major works, offered some of the most favorable views of Barcelona I had yet seen. I remember being so awestruck by the view of the city that I had to set my camera down for a minute. I remember thinking about the fact that the body of water on the other side of the city was the Mediterranean Sea, and after a lifetime of seeing it on a map I finally was presented the opportunity to gaze on it in all its glory with my own two eyes. I remember feeling so warm; it was a balmy 60 degrees F on an early January day. Most of all, I remember the feeling that what I saw in front of my own eyes, right in front of me, was not real. I truly felt like I was dreaming.

Granada.JPG

This is a moment I captured in Granada after exploring La Alhambra at night with a few of my favorite people. I was rapidly falling in love with the pomegranate (Granada means pomegranate in Spanish – you’re welcome). It was the smallest city we visited in Spain and you could just feel the deep rooted history and unique culture as you wandered the tight, winding streets (this happens to be one of the largest streets in Granada, Gran Via). In this moment, I was just thrilled to be witnessing such a beautiful city. I felt so lucky to be exploring the pomegranate with some of the most wonderful people I had ever met. I remember feeling adventurous; we were wandering through an unfamiliar place searching for any type of food joint we could find. I felt like I could conquer the world. I felt completely at peace. I felt happy.

There are so many unforgettable moments that were too special for me to ruin by taking a picture, moments that made this trip one of the best experiences of my life. I am just so happy I took the leap of faith and booked a trip even though I was going alone to an unfamiliar place with a group of people I had never met before. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, and with this trip under my belt I feel an overwhelming urge to continue traveling to new places all over the globe. It enforces my desire to learn several languages (I’m still working on Spanish… one at a time, right?) and to meet people from all different walks of life. I want to learn more about the world, different cultures, different religions. I want to live a life of purpose and I want to pursue a career that will benefit and help other people.

Take a leap of faith and travel somewhere, anywhere. Free yourself from the constraints that tie you to one place and broaden your horizons (literally). After you travel somewhere unfamiliar, it is true you don’t come back the same. You come back with a better understanding of the world and not only a tolerance for the differences between different cultures, but a genuine interest in them. You come back a better person.

Get out there and see the world!

Shatter the Box

Neha&Moni_2

Sometimes, people are stuck in a box. This box can seem large to them, so as not to be claustrophobic. This box can even be comforting to them; after all, everyone chooses their own box. Some people are born and raised in a city with people they are familiar with and they end up staying there for 20-30 years. During this time, life gets in the way of their ability to travel. It’s always a “good” excuse… “I’m new to this job, I can’t take vacation days for at least a year” or “I’m saving up for a ring” or “I’m saving up to get a house”, etc. There is always something holding people back from seeing outside the box.

I lived in that box for too long. Not by choice; at the first opportunity I had I spread my wings and burst through the box, shattering it as if it were made out of glass. (Okay, yes this is a little over dramatic) I planned a trip to Spain where I would be going alone, without anyone I had previously met, on a group tour with people my age. All of the normal considerations were raised to me by the people around me, “Are you sure you want to spend all of that money” or “You could use that money for a down payment on a new car”. Yes, people I did want to spend that money and the car I have now is perfectly fine. The money was unimportant to me; I would have spent much more just to have the experience.

I have traveled to Europe before with my mom when I was 15. We traveled all through England and made a stop in Edinburgh, Scotland and we really saw some wonderful things and had a fantastic time. You must be wondering how my glass box wasn’t shattered when I was 15, right? (Bueller? Bueller?) The difference is that I was still under my mom’s wing when I was 15; the decision to go, all of the courage that it takes to travel was mustered by my dear mother. The experience was still wonderful, but there is no substitute to stepping out on your own adventure.

When I booked the Spain trip (7 months in advance – I was jazzed), I figured that I would love the cities. What’s not to love about Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, and Costa Del Sol? I knew I would love the history and the distinct, ancient architecture of these amazing European cities. I knew the food would be out of this world (I was constantly dying and going to heaven) and that the culture would be rich and evident. I mean it’s Spain for Christ’s sake! What I didn’t realize was that I would meet such incredible, unique people along the way.

This trip was the best trip I have ever had in my life, and singularly some of the best days of my life. This was all made possible by the incredible people I met on my trip and all of the people I came in contact with. (Shout out to La Familia) I never expected to meet people that I not only enjoyed spending my time with, but people that I would put at the top of the list of any future trip I would want to make with a group of people. It’s amazing how after just ten days I feel like we have known each other for a lifetime, but I have no doubt that we will keep in touch for many years to come.

People are the most important part of life. Buying material items, visiting outlandish locations, going on adventurous trips – none of it is worth anything without amazing people to share it with. The people I met fill me with hope; there are outstanding people everywhere you look. They may be a different race, a different religion, a different nationality, but when it boils down to it we are all the same underneath. Learning to embrace new cultures and people is what travel is all about.

Shatter your own glass box; take a chance, it may change your life. Appreciate the people in your life and never lose touch with the ones that matter. Without them, you are truly alone.

Fragile

ANC

The Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. is organized with chilling precision, offering breathtaking views every where you turn. The sheer amount of graves is difficult to comprehend and even more unimaginable when you realize that each individual stone represents a brave soul who died far too young in combat. Walking through the enormous cemetery is a powerful experience; it forces you to think about difficult topics that you normally don’t enjoy mulling over. You think about how horrible wars are and how as time goes on, we as race never learn from our mistakes. You think about the true cost associated with war; losing the lives of millions of young people who will never have the chance to grow old. Monetary considerations suddenly seem irrelevant when you are surrounded by a sea of graves. Similarly, life itself feels more precious.

This experience enforced the direction I want to take with my life. Life is precious and can be taken away at any point. Life is Fra-jee-lay (A Christmas Story is still fresh on my mind). I want to live a life that is focused on the present; people are often so focused on the future that they can’t enjoy the moment. They are constantly dreaming of greener pastures, and the idea that once “this thing in the future” happens, life will be better and they will be happy. I believe everyone needs to set goals for themselves to try to grow and be better each and everyday, but I also believe that you should be happy along the way. If you are miserable the entire time you are fighting toward your goals, will you really suddenly be happy when you finally achieve them?

Of course, when you are chasing something, there is a certain amount of sacrifice involved. Everyone will go through hard, difficult times; that’s just the way life is. Some things, however, we can control, like (in most situations) where we live, how we live, and what we do to make a living. Even in the most dire situations, there are ways you can alter your life slightly to make your day to day life more fulfilling. Happiness is not a set recipe; happiness does not have a price tag. Everyone’s quest for happiness is unique and each individual person has their own recipe for happiness. Happiness, happiness, happiness (just figured I should say it a few more times).

Make the most of the time you are given on earth and do something to help other people. Chase your goals but don’t forget to live in the present. Not everyone has the chance to grow old; make the most of your journey!