literature

That Story about the Frog in the Well

Since finishing the linguistics textbook, I have embarked on a great hunt through the literature surrounding code-switching, bilingualism, language socialization, immigration studies, and oral histories. I’ve been ransacking libraries and combing through bibliographies to follow the trails of key readings and scholars. As I did this I come to the realization (again) that the more I read, the more I know what I don’t know and the more I understand the scope of how much more reading I will have to do. Every source I finish reading points to at least four more crucial texts I have to read that I didn’t even know about before. It reminds me of this Chinese fable my mother told me when I was small. I’d like to apologize ahead of time for any gross inaccuracies and invented details or plot points that occur in this retelling of the fable. To be fair, the last time I heard the story was a long time ago and it was in a different language. So here is the story:

Once upon a time, there was a frog who lived in a well. He had everything he ever wanted in his well. I guess for a frog, that would be flies to eat and water to swim in. I’m not too sure what else a frog might want. Anyhow he also knew everything about that well, knew which angle to sit at to bask in the sun and which rocks to jump on to climb up the sides of the well. He even learned to predict the weather based on looking at the clouds that he could see in the little slice of sky above his well. He was very happy and he thought he had the most fabulous lifestyle ever. He was pretty sure that he knew everything there was to know about the world.

One day, a sea turtle encountered his well. (I have no idea what a sea turtle was doing that could have led him to the frog’s well. Maybe the sea turtle was a traveling engineer who was investigating well construction in different areas of the world.) The frog told the sea turtle, “Yo, I know everything there is to know about the world. I know everything about water, and about walls, and about the sun and the sky.” The turtle was very wise and old and cool, as turtles tend to be (see Finding Nemo for evidence), and he had traveled around the whole world. The turtle took the frog out to see the ocean, the great wall of china, the desert, and the sunset on a beautiful beach. And the frog’s mind was blown by how much of the world he didn’t even know he didn’t know about.

I feel like that frog every time I read more.

Read more about my project.

Advertisements

Time Out

At this point in the summer, working on my thesis feels like a full-time job. There, I said it. This is work. And a lot of it. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to be able to write for my “job,” but it has definitely shown me a side of the creative process that I had never before experienced. How lucky am I though, that I am able to figure this out over the summer, when I have infinitely more time than I would during the semester? Very lucky, indeed.

Last week, just when the task of writing all-day, every day, started to take its toll, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a break, to fly across the country, reunite with one of my dearest friends, and give myself a few blissful days of rest from the world of my own creative mind. And trust me, when you spend all day hatching plans for people who don’t really exist, getting out of your own mind is welcome change of pace.

Where was this carefree land I flew to, you might be asking? Seattle, Washington.

1st stop, Pike Place Market

1st stop, Pike Place Market

Before embarking on this trip, I really knew very little about Seattle. This summer one of my friends is interning there and invited me for a long weekend. And since I had never been to the West Coast, I was definitely on board. Back when I planned the trip, I never could have guessed that it would be the perfect time to shake up my writing routine, but it certainly was!

My goals for this visit were twofold: to soak up as much of the city and surrounding area as possible, and to take ALL of the pictures. I didn’t want to stress myself out with a million things to do, but I also knew it would be the perfect location for taking photos I would never be able to take anywhere else.

So, off I went. And let me tell you, friends, it was incredible.

Hellooo, Emerald City, amiright?

Hellooo, Emerald City, amiright?

There is something about being in a new city that has such a fantastic potential to breathe new life into your creative muscles.(Well, probably all of your muscles, as my calves would tell you. But I chose to focus on the creatives ones.) My trip lasted from Thursday afternoon to early-early Tuesday morning. And since my friend worked the Friday and Monday of my trip, I had those days to wander by myself. Those unscripted moments were so enriching.

Camera in-hand, I meandered through Pike Place Market, streets adorned with gorgeous homes, and the bustling retail core. I may have had one or two real destinations on these days, but I was more focused on the journey. I walked whenever I could, enjoying the new sights that being on-foot allowed me to see, and talking with people I bumped into along the way.

When can I move in?

When can I move in?

On the Sunday of my visit, we took possibly the most beautiful hike I have ever taken in my entire life. Granted, I don’t do hikes often, but I’m pretty sure that even if I did, this one would be tops.

Speechless

Speechless

And while it was definitely a physical challenge at times, I couldn’t help but to fall in love with every single step I took.

Lake Twenty Two

Lake Twenty Two

Too often, I find myself with my eyes narrowly focused on the end goal, the finished project, the top of the mountain, the final due date. And while it’s perfectly fine and advisable to be aware of where you are going, this trip to Seattle emphasized for me the importance of enjoying the moments along the way.

I wonder if perhaps some of my exhaustion in terms of my own work was that I never truly allowed myself to take pleasure in the individual stories. So far, each new narrative has just been one closer to the end. So of course it would feel monotonous. But the creative process shouldn’t feel that way. Life shouldn’t feel that way. I just had to step out of my routine to see that.

I’ll leave you now with this week’s inspiration:

For the Eyes: Nature. While the weather is nice, take an afternoon away from your screens, your social media, and your stresses. It’s amazing what a little time in the wilderness can do. (And this is coming from a true city-lover.)

For the Ears: Silence. Every once in a while, there is something so refreshing about turning off the music.

For the Soul: Generosity. Be generous with your time, with your affection, with your humor, and with yourself.

laurnie6

Til next time, friends.

Read more about my project.