I was in two minds and had several reservations about blogging whilst I’m away (I’m currently on my journey travelling North & South America). I knew it would be my greatest adventure to date, but I was warned about the commitment to blogging frequently that makes it feel like a chore. *Quick note about me – I love writing, so this was less than appealing to me if it ever turned something I love into a chore*. I also didn’t just want to blog for the sake of it, sharing day to day stories of my sight-seeing with little cause or purpose, that’s what Instagram and Facebook are for (a well-edited picture is worth at least 1000 words right?). Everyone blogs for different reasons, but I wanted mine to mean something, to serve a purpose. My personality is such that. I look for meaning in everything. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t. On this occasion it was shown to me.
I’d say my main hang-up or preventative from blogging was that I doubted if people would read it anyway, i’d be such a small URL in a cobweb of electronic mass. How would anyone ever even find it? I’m a chaotic dreamer with insatiable curiosity, a wild imagination and an inability to switch off my 100mph active brain (there’s positives and negatives to it). In summation I’ve always had a lot to say, my perception, my take on the crazy world we live in, how i’d like it to be, how I think it should be. But would I ever reach enough people to change anything? I used to think no, and that may still be the case. But then I met Sanguine.
Now, Sanguine is not her actual name, I don’t know the woman’s name, but everything about her was Sanguine, so that’s what we’ll call her. It was a brief yet meaningful encounter, I met her on my flight from New York to Chicago. She said something to me that I’ve heard a thousand times before, but never like this…
‘Be the change you’d like to see in the world’
I know, I’ve heard it countless times before too. But she really meant it. She lived it and breathed it, her charisma and all-encompassing warmth left much to be envied, and yet her down to earth and selfless nature would never allow it. She was the friendliest woman I think I’ve ever met (without an agenda), but not to be mistaken for being soft. She had a calming determination about her as she proceeded to tell me her line of work. She didn’t mention the title, but she works to enforce that tax money is spent where it’s supposed to be, with a particular focus in the educational sector. She then volunteered that she home schools all four of her children at her home in Alabama. The reasons for her doing this being twofold – Firstly because we all learn and retain information completely differently so why should we all be taught the same? And secondly, because the regimented school curriculum teaches kids more about Henry the 8th and how to remember the names of his 6 wives than it does about politics, how the country is run and actual topics that will affect them growing up; e.g. Teaching about recreational drugs in a safe environment rather than them learning they exist and how not to use them on the streets. She follows a curriculum of both life lessons and academia, but not learning for the sake of learning, or to ace a pop quiz. Learning to advance her children as people, with tangible, useful, sought after skills and knowledge. Sanguine offered that her 6 year old little boy has such a love and thirst for reading because he is learning about things that interest him, at his own pace.
The issue with a lot of classroom learning is that everyone learns at different paces, there will always be someone who reads the fastest, learns the fastest, writes the fastest. Just like there will always be the person who takes a little bit longer to grasp and really take in things. Either way there will always be someone who’s full learning capacity is not being utilised, whether it’s the person trying to catch up to the rest of the class, or the person that finishes first and has to wait for everybody else. This way, her little boy doesn’t have to slow down or speed up for anyone. His own pace doesn’t mean a slow pace, it just means one which is customised to him. Apparently he can recite any capital city and the names of all the rivers and mountains flowing through the States. I mean, I know I certainly can’t so I take my hat off to him. Especially at 6 – keep doing what you’re doing little genius!
*Embarrassing confession* ~ I was once put on the spot in a quick fire question round at my last job and asked the capital city of the States and I answered New York. I don’t like being put on the spot. I mind-blanked. Highly embarrassing. Especially when I then announced I’m travelling the States where I apparently don’t know the capital (I’m not stupid by any means, just a knee-jerk word vomit kind of moment where you wish you can take it back the second it leaves your mouth)
This random stranger, Sanguine, was truly inspirational and thought-provoking without even trying. Simply by being the change she wants to see in the world. And she really is. She doesn’t like the educational system, so she’s done something about it. I think we all forget sometimes that we have a choice, a lot of choices in fact, every day. We are told there’s a right way to do things but it is not the only way and it is not always right. Challenge the norms. Before we parted ways, she said to me “sometimes you are going to wonder if you are actually making a difference, and on those days the Lord will send you a sign”. I asked what she meant by this and she proceeded that the last time she had a bad day, a day where doubt had seeped in, a little girl that she had helped through her line of work came over, tapped her on the shoulder and said ‘you’ve changed my life’. I wish we’d gone into more detail with the luxury of the time to discuss how she changed this little girls life, but there wasn’t time, so for now, it’s enough.
I don’t personally believe in God, but I do believe and have faith in something, I’m just not sure what exactly it is (to be discussed another day). I do know what she means though, my take is that we have ‘spirit guides’ that give us a boost when we need it or re-direction if we’re lost. I don’t mean actual walking dead spirits, or ghosts, nothing spooky, I think its the universe. They come in the form of strangers, just like that little girl to Sanguine, and I guess like Sanguine was for me. It happens all the time actually, you’ve just got to be looking for it. Seek the good and it will come to you. A random compliment from a stranger on a day where you’re feeling insecure, a good deed from someone for no reason at all, gaining some free advice from a passer-by that you might not have asked for but it was everything you needed to hear and more. (Start looking out for the random serendipities that occur when you may not be aware you need them, and it will put a smile on even your darkest days).
Anyway, to summarise the introduction to my blog, it was a combination of Sanguine in all of her Sanguineness (Sanguine – the ability to be postive and enthusiastic even in a difficult situation, remaining faithful and hopeful always that everything is going to work out), a highly passionate guy from Argentina that asked me what my passion is and a thought-provoking, psycho-analytical guy I met from LA that prompted me to finally start my blog.
I’m not going to blog about the things I see. I’m going to blog about the things I feel. The things you can’t take pictures of. The experiences and memories that change you as a person. The encounters that change your world. My thoughts about these encounters and about controversial topics in general. Thinking outside the box. Breaking away from norms. I want to remember these crucial people I meet along my journey, the good and the bad, and share what they teach me, in the hope someone else might learn from them too. If anyone has anything to add on their thoughts on the educational system or anything else I’ve written about, whether it’s inspired you or outraged you, please comment or get in touch below. Discussions always welcome.
Sent with love, from Chicago Xx (pic taken in the beautiful Boston last week whilst exploring Harvard University grounds)