Thirteen Things I Learned in 2013 (Part 1)

It’s hard to believe this year was, in fact, no longer than last year–it just felt that way. The journey I’ve taken from January 1, 2013, to today has been among the most adventurous I’ve ever had–blessed with confusion and clarity, strewn across two continents, and featuring my life-long highest and lowest points, it’s certainly been anything but expected.

And yet I’ve survived and stand here today a changed man. I’ve learned a lot along the way–a lot more than algebra and analysis, conservation and creative writing, policies and politics–things that fill me with more wisdom than Zelda with her Triforce piece (I’ve been playing again lately), and as my last act of 2013, I want to share these lessons with you.

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Failure and Success

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about my goals this year, and probably for good reason: Since I wrote about them last, they’ve mostly all crumbled away. But with every defeat comes a new perspective which is, after all, akin to victory in its own right, and I think one last look back at my goals this year will help me prepare for next year.

It’ll be a painful trip for me–in more than half my goals, I’ve had complete failure and that’s hard to face–but only through hardships can we truly force ourselves to grow.

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August August

I was talking with my roommate the other about the number of days in the month, and he told me August has 31 days because Augustus had to have at least as many days in his month as Julius had in his, so he stole one from February, and now August has 31 days. Makes it a pretty noble–or shall we say, august–month, doesn’t it?

And now it’s over.

But that’s alright, because now we can savor the sweetness of its fruit once again.

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The Point of Privilege

That’s not me.

We hear stories of privilege and think of old white men in suits sipping on drinks at the bar in their kitchen–but it looks like a real bar, it’s just that big. We think of privilege and we think of CEOs and politicians, those the media has deemed corrupt–might as well toss in a few celebrities, just for for kicks. We say the word privilege and the first thing inevitably to cross our minds is this three-word phrase.

That’s not me.

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Of All the Drying Racks in the World

Our service project began on March 4–a Monday that should be the role model for all Mondays: We were excited, put in a great effort, and ended eager for the rest of the week. It became the cornerstone of our experience–the story’s climax, the man’s epiphany.

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A Tourist Attraction

It’s hard to believe five months have passed since I left N.C. State on my Alternative Service Break to Belize. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since the trip began–the application process, the monthly team meetings, and all the fundraising… In the forefront of my summer plans and now in the background of my Resident Mentor training, Belize continues to be a prominent feature as I compile both a journal and a photo companion of my trip to send to those who helped me make it there in the first place.

Those are separate reflections, intimate monologues for the select few, but I promised and have been building an experience here for many months–and for just as many months, it’s been missing an important page: the final page.

Over the coming week, I’m going to close this chapter of the Writingwolf, taking you along from the moment our plane touched down to the cataclysmic changes I’ve experienced since it flew me back.

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As the Summer Draws to an End

It’s been no secret my summer is unusually short this year, and as such, it’s been no secret how hard I’ve had to push myself to complete not only my manageable goals for the year but also my stretch goals for the summer.

Although it’s hard to realize (and harder to say), this is my last monthly goal report before my summer shrivels up and leaves me in the midst of an extraordinarily busy semester.

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Target Practice

Back when the year began I set out upon journey that I soon departed from. I envisioned a better future for myself and drafted a series of goals–but somewhere between then and now I wandered astray and haven’t been able to make much progress on the goals I set out to achieve.

I’ve run into a number of challenges since then, both internal and external, but I’m back in a sound mind again and I’m waiting to play this symphony to completion. Today is target practice for me–a time to shoot some arrows and see where they land. More than half the year remains, and I can step back upon the path I want to follow.

All I have to do is see where I stand today and make sure I’m looking in the right direction to keep moving forward.

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Random Encounters

Feeling that I would otherwise regret my entire life if I didn’t go, I decided this afternoon I would hit up the gym’s group fitness courses for one last time. I got dressed in my workout gear, placed a song on my tongue, and set out for AbSolution, an intense, 15-minute abdominal workout that feels like an hour. And feeling in a rather torturous mood, I decided to follow it up with 75 minutes of yoga. Delightful, but I was subsequently drenched in my own sweat.

The good thing is, this story? It’s not about that. But if I hadn’t gone out when I had, if I hadn’t bought some tea and read on my Kindle for as long as I had, if I hadn’t decided to get food in the face of a post-workout lack of appetite, I’d have missed out on not one, not two, but three random encounters.

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