Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back While Looking Forward:

This image was taken near the Amstel, from a bench that parallels it. It shows the top of a bridge that runs perpendicular to the Amstel, with railings in the foreground and the gables of houses in the distance; it is a compressed image, due to it rather layered composition and lack of perspective. Looking closely; much occurs in this image: nearly one third of it is composed of the bricks that pave the aforementioned bridge, and the green railings on each side of it–due to the angle of stance and zoom lens, used to take this image–the railings seem to criss cross one another at opposite yet similar angles, due to this layering. This image is evocative of all of Amsterdam; as it's a city with layers of history, one piled on top of the other, at miniscule scale, which creates delightfully complex vistas for the eye–over water, through railings, and into houses–nearly everywhere one looks within the city.

Throughout the past year, I've allowed myself to stop and appreciate–and let be very healing–the small moments of layered sensory perceptions that fill the city; when the sun hits a building so beautifully, I stop and admire it; if a street has just finished being handsomely repaved, I'll stop to admire it; and if ever I feel as if the city's calling out to me, I'll stop and listen to it: Amsterdam I appreciate. But not only that. I allow its beauty–its life–to continually sweep me off my feet. It's a new found quality of mine, which I've been putting into loving practice since 2012: small moments.

Looking back at the past year is not a task in any way. It was one filled with new beginnings, and the beginnings of new endings, yet incomplete. It was the year that 'I stood up within myself in order to stand up for myself', in every sense of the sentence. I'm closer to knowing my true purpose and what my mind and body desire to achieve, or contribute to, while simultaneously not deviating from myself. Even more so than two years ago, I'm learning that how I react to situations is far more important than any situation that I may ever find myself within. I author my life; and not anyone else. Two years ago I emerged from a year that shattered all conceptions about the self–myself, that is. I looked in the mirror (something I seem to have never been too fond of), and told to myself: own it. It's remarkable how such a small shift in perspective toward the self can improve its view, of itself.

This year I was a year of many firsts: I was accepted to the University of Amsterdam, where I'm now studying toward my masters degree in Dutch Art History; I became Dutch; and I continued to travel Europe, experiencing the cities of: Istanbul, Prague, Edinburgh, Bordeaux, Oslo, Groningen (which is admittedly within the borders of the Netherlands, but was, until February, still an exotic location to me), Lille, Bruges, Ghent, and Lisbon. That's quite a many cities; each enriched me, in its own way.

What I'll take away from this year, is my renewed sense of purpose, which nudged me toward my current study, which itself has allowed me to see the world, and its art, from new perspectives. Not to mention the dozens of new faces, places, spaces, and artworks I've seen since starting. More importantly, I've concluded that the organizations I choose to place myself within will and do affect me in ways that I'll never be able to anticipate, or fully understand. Which is exactly why I've realized that only when I fully, lovingly, holistically, and unconditionally accept the self, my self, will I flourish–at anything I do or set out to achieve. I am valuing myself in way that has made me examine and prod into the closets of my life, to see what's really hiding in the back, dark corners, and needs to be or has been been, brought out. We choose what we engage with; I'm selective with my choices.

When I choose to place myself in psychologically damaging situations–for money, for prestige, for power... the list goes on–I lose, and others gain. I'm valuing myself, my talents, my actions, my thoughts, and my body, in ways that I previously never thought I was worth. Because of that, I'd like to think that I'm less inclined to be deceived or manipulated–in any way–precisely because I now know what it is I'm hungry for. I won't let myself deviate, or allow others to interfere with, my course.

So far, trips in 2015 are already scheduled for: the USA, the UK, and Croatia. There'll be more. What growth will they bring?