Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Late-November, the Amstel, and Amsterdam:

The Amstel is reassuring, as it streams through the city, dividing it as its waters glide. Always there, always flowing; the river is a source of constant in my life, which over the past year, has entailed more activity than I have ever experienced. I have flung my body all over this tiny country of mine, as well as throughout Europe. People I never expected to meet, are now my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. The increase in activity owes itself to decisions that I chose to make–years ago. By choosing to continue to be a student, at least until mid-2017, I have also made my life more difficult than it need be. And for that reason, also more enriching then I could have ever anticipated. Next month marks the last month of my life that’s full of classes; quite literally having to be in many places in one week, has left me tired. I have been studying for a second MA since September 2015, and the end is near. On Monday in class, realizing that it would quite literally be one of my last, I spoke up and out, threading my opinions into the larger discussion. The act itself is not new to me–I most often speak my mind while in class. But Monday was different. I had imbued the act with more meaning than usual; the words I then spoke, were in Dutch. And so in the course of eight years, I have gone from an American, knowing no Dutch, to having become a Dutch citizen, specialized in seventeenth century Dutch paintings, and articulating my thoughts about the field in a university course, in Dutch. This past year, in addition to experiencing museums behind the scene, acquiring a wardrobe that leaves my options for dressing each day a highly enjoyable feat, and learning to believe in myself more than I ever knew capable–really believing I believe in myself, that is, and not just telling myself I do–I found my voice. I felt it arise; when it did, it felt great. It was myself rising, within myself. A feeling returned to me last week, in the same class that involved me speaking Dutch. After barnstorming academia in Amsterdam for the last three years… the feeling of jubiliant elatement has returned to me. My enthusiasm for my studies never actually ceased; more so, I finally felt comfortable in my own skin. The knowledge I have acquired during these past few years, will always remain with me. More than just investing in a new wardrobe, and an education I’ll always treasure–and more importantly, constantly be adding to as I age–these past few years have been a test of how much I really wanted, what I once thought I wanted. Now that I have it, I know that the choices I made years ago, which have made me who I am today, were not only the right choices–they were affirmations of choosing who I wanted to be. I have made myself into who I wanted to be.

But wait; I’m always excited of the future. More than leading me in a new direction, these past few years, have made me, happily, more myself.