A painting and poem by Cameron Colan
Life ebbs and flows
Just as the wind blows
The good, the bad
The happy, the sad
It’s okay to be confused
Because here we’re all mad
Be calm young lad
Stop looking up and appreciate what is had
Time’s a myth, one you can make anything out of
Something beautiful if given enough love
Something that will never fit like a glove
Yet when treated right, gives you the freedom of a dove
It’s something none of us ever have enough of
But while we have it we must make the best of
So be one with the wind
And be good to anyone whose ever sinned
For you have too
And know that in most moments all that matters is what happens between me and you
Be curious, be courageous and don’t be blue
That’s all we can really do.
It’s the perfect place to bear the founding father’s name.
A place where people come together to be themselves without a drop of shame.
With the old man’s snare drums in motion,
And children mesmerized by the fountain as if it were an ocean.
It’s a little oasis,
For all of us who stroll these streets on a daily basis.
Beneath Broadway’s light,
Lady Liberty searches for her knight.
Perpetually watching over her people with all her might.
Because the way this place goes none of us know if tonight’s gona be our night.
But at least we’ve got this square,
A sanctuary for all of us to share.
A relic of our past and an ode to a future where we all show her we still care.
Cause she’ll never stop preaching, “Together is the best way to prevent wear and tear.”
We all have a home, here in Washington’s Square.
In today’s day and age, we are constantly connected. We now have the ability to communicate, connect and collaboration with nearly everyone and anyone whether we have crossed paths with them in our lifetimes or not. This is a gift that in the past would have been viewed as an almost supernatural power, but now we can command it from a small device that rests in our pocket.
This has led to a massive increase in access to knowledge, creation of information, a better understanding of the world and a dramatic increase in selfies per capita (SPC for short). Most of these are fantastic, but like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Our hyper-connectivity has led each of us to learn so much more about others while consequently learning significantly less about ourselves.
I had this realization after a chat with one of my favorite people in the world in a club blaring techno music in the heart of Zurich’s red light district at around 5:30 in the morning. She shared a concept that I had never paid much attention to – that being alone is not just enlightening but beautiful. This idea camped out in the fields of my mind for the next few days.
Fate would have it that my next stop would be in the Austrian town of Innsbruck which gently rests in the valley of the alps. I traveled here alone, and for the first time in a very long time I was the only person I knew in a place I knew nothing about.
I rode the cable car up to a midway point on the mountain where it lets you off, then you make your own way to the top. You can hike, climb or simply sit. I made my way to the top where I found myself completely captivated and awe struck. I sat on a rock and simply was. There was an array of birds chirping in harmony as if they were in a choir. Other than that, just silence. The silence was the perfect pairing for the sight that laid before me. Monstrous mountains topped with intermittent snow caps at each peak that were caressed by the clouds.
At that moment the words of my friend which had been marinating in my mind made total sense to me in my own way. In that moment it was just me, the scenery and the occasional passerby. I felt really alive and was overcome with a sense serenity that I am not sure if I’d felt before. Right there on that rock I think I found beauty in being alone. Alone, lonely or isolation are all terms that I believe get a bad rap. For when you really ponder it being alone is essential to finding out who you really are. With no outside distractions you can be at peace with your thoughts and look deeper into who, why and where you are in life.
I hope you can find the right moment to disconnect; be alone somewhere to see if it allows you to figure out who you are too.
Ever since I first stepped foot in the Paris it stole my heart. I have always loved and admired the way this city and its people place such an emphasis on fine tuning the ascetics of life. I know what you are thinking “but isn’t that all the French care about?” And you know what I really don’t think so but even so does it really matter? Because when you eat here it is not just a meal it’s an edible artistic experience. When you walk the streets here you are in awe of the city’s immaculate presentation and the inspiration around every corner. When you shop here you find things you have never seen or maybe only dreamed of. The magic of the city is undeniable. In fact, the list of master creators that have been inspired by life in Paris reads like a best of all-time list – the same people every high schooler learns about in Humanities class.
On this visit the streets were covered with a stifling amount of people who congregated around the French capital for very different reasons. First, you had the chic members of the high fashion world clad in all black and rarely seen with a smile. Second, you had soccer fans bursting with pride and gripping onto the hope of a Euro Cup 2016 victory. As fascinating as the stark contrast between these two groups was, the limelight was stolen by a third group – the military.
The military presence itself felt stifling. They traveled in packs of three or more and with their finger never too far away from their loaded automatic weapons. They were on street corners, every large public gathering and even on trains in the metro. Seeing the city of love living in fear and ripe for aggressive military actions was a hard pill to swallow. That said, the recent threats and the magnitude of the events being hosted by the city at this time seemed to justify the military presence.
Since I had visited several cities that have been recently been affected by acts of terror, I had a very tangible view of how terrorism is shaping the current political and cultural landscape in Europe. It’s sad that in a time when we need to work together many people’s reaction is to shun others that don’t believe, look or act like them.
French poet Victor Hugo once said “toleration is the best religion”. Now, more than ever we need to keep that at the forefront of daily lives. If we let fear control us, then the battle is already lost.