A few weeks ago, I had an idea for a blog post.
Get up and go.
That was it. I wanted to say those four words. I wanted to tell you all how I’ve come to realize their importance, to want them to mean something for you the way they mean something for me: I wanted them to reach inside of you and grip you and send you running out your door to just go. Sometimes the destination isn’t as important as just getting started. I wanted to ask you to try this for me: to spend your weekends outside of your comfort zone, if only briefly. I wanted to ask you to push yourselves. Get out there. Hit up that restaurant you’ve been eyeing, or maybe just visit the local farmer’s market. Check out the weekend’s festivals. Get out of the house. Go.
I had spent that weekend hanging out with my wonderful friend Lis. Some of you have met Lis, and if you have–well, you know she’s awesome. Lis and I met while studying abroad at Trinity College Dublin last fall and bonded immediately because we were seniors in a sea of juniors (also our bus driver almost hit a cyclist, but that’s a story for another time).
Most of last autumn was spent traveling Europe with Lis, actually, and most of our weekend was spent exploring Philly. I love this city, but I sometimes forget to enjoy it. Having Lis here on such an opportune weekend spurred me to look up events and places I would have otherwise ignored or forgotten about until too late. And when she arrived? First Friday, an autumn festival, wandering around with Hanna… well, we got up and went.
And you know what? We had a blast. We balanced time out and about with time at my house, watching TV or movies or baking up a storm (like we do). We had fun.
I learned a lot from studying abroad–more than I realize even now, probably–but having a deadline on my time in Ireland really made me make the best use of that time. Most of my weekends were spent traveling with Lis and Hanna and sometimes Tyler or Eileen–weekend trips to Edinburgh, or Paris, or London; day trips to the Cliffs of Moher, or Cashel, or Glendalough. The Saturdays that weren’t booked up were devoted to one of my favorite parts of Dublin–the Temple Bar Food Market.
We made the best of our time in Dublin just as we made the best of our time everywhere else. We stopped to relax, definitely, but we also realized that what was more important to us was to get the most we could out of our experiences and planned accordingly. But while planning was definitely important, what mattered most was how we dealt with the day to day. I spent my months in Ireland striving to live in the present as I never had before: not worrying about the future, not fretting over the past, but actually enjoying each day as it came to me.
It was unquestionably the most relaxing time of my life, but it was also the most invigorating. The most lively, in the sense of life-full. And none of that would have happened without taking to heart those four simple words: Get up and go.
And that was it. I wanted to encourage you to look at what’s around you. Are you in the country? The city? The suburbs? See what options are around you and take advantage of them: bike rides. Watch the sunset. Stare at the stars. Take pictures of every bridge in your city. Try a new food truck. Once you’re moving, you’ll find it’s hard to stop. That’s just basic physics for you: an object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest? Well.
At this point you might be wondering a few things, like why I bothered with an introduction about “this blog post I wanted to write” if I just… wrote… the blog post…? Don’t worry. I’m coming to that.
I ran into a few problems with this philosophy of life. For one thing–not everyone’s outgoing in that way. Some people don’t like big festivals, or crowds of people, or art museums, or the hour long drive it takes to get to that beautiful view of the woods. What I learned as I tried to write this blog post was this: that’s okay, too. The last few weeks have taught me that what I wanted to say wasn’t just get up & go. What I wanted to say was more than that in some ways, less than that in others.
Let me put it like this. There’s this great series by Maggie Stiefvater called The Raven Cycle. There’s this great moment in the second book, The Dream Thieves, where Blue Sargent is talking with her mom, Maura, and they’re both kinda… weepy.
What becomes us? Action.
That’s what I was trying to get at with my ides of “get up and go.” It’s more of an idea to fully enjoy your life the way it is, to make the best of your time here. To do fun things. To do meaningful things. To build memories, to build hopes. To strengthen friendships with days of laughter and sunshine as well as the days of tears and sadness. It’s not so much the going out as it is the doing.
Basically? I don’t want to live passively. I don’t want to sit here while the world moves around me and let things happen to me. I want to make things. I want to do things. I had a great time last Saturday, and do you know where I went? Nowhere. Well, I dropped by the farmer’s market to pick up some apple cider, and I had to step out to buy spray paint–but all told, I probably left the house for a total of forty minutes. All day.
But do you know what I did with that time? I organized. I designed. I created. And now instead of the faded, fabric-covered bulletin board I’ve had since I was seven, I have a quirky piece of art hanging on my wall. Do you know what that took? An old poster, a pair of scissors, and some spray paint. That’s all.
What you’re doing doesn’t have to be big or bold or like anything you see on a TED talk. You don’t have to live in italics or exclamation points.
Just do this one thing for me.
Try to be where you are. Take two minutes off of whatever you’re doing and just take a deep breath. Right now. Do you feel your heart pound within you? Do you know how very much alive you are? Shift your perspective away from all the things that are wrong with your life, all the things that aren’t as you want them to be–try looking at all the things that are beautiful or strange–or maybe both.
Here’s a secret: you don’t have to go out every weekend. You don’t have to hang out with people every day. Here’s another secret: you also don’t need to avoid them. Sometimes it’s less about the place you’re going and more about the people with you.
Act wholeheartedly, whether that’s writing a poem everyday or working through a particularly difficult patch of code or devouring a novel or going for a run or hopping in the car and driving until you find the changing leaves. Get up and go, or maybe sit down and stay for a while. Sink your roots in. Whatever you do, remember that living passively does not become us. Do you know what does?