The year is coming to an end and I’ve been reflecting on the things I have accomplished for 2010, and have been writing down my 2011 aspirations. One of the things I will achieve is nuturing my interests. We get so boggled down with work and life that we don’t have time to really focus on things we really enjoy. The work week is over, and we are so happy to just sit on the couch that we don’t even get a chance to explore or nourish things that help our “beings” flourish. Our mind vegetates on colorful pixels generated from our television or computer screens at least 5 hours a day. Many of us haven’t read a book in forever, or took up an hobby, like photography, playing an instrument, or exploring a new, foreign city or language. We limit ourselves by not coming out of our comfort zone and taking interest in something that isn’t part of our immediate community.
This year, I told myself that I wanted to learn a different language. I took French for 5 years in college and I can’t speak more than the general phrases, “Comment-allez vous” and “Tres bien.” When I went to Paris, a few years ago, I was a lost soul. It is a city I really liked and want to return to on a regular basis, so taking up the language won’t hurt and it makes me more versatile. I always marvel at the people who are fluent in 6 languages and who are well-traveled. They have an understanding of the world outside of America and have gained interests from their excursions. Not everyone is blessed to have the resources to travel around the world, but we also don’t take the time to look at the local paper for activities and hobbies that are offered to us and our children right in our community. We get lazy, or haven’t been exposed or conditioned to explore these options.
As I learn, I try to be a conduit of my knowledge to my mentees and my friends. Sometimes, due to cultural differences and behaviors, we box ourselves into what we can and can not do. Our socio-economic class makes us limited in our view of the word, at times. Our imagination becomes stifled because we aren’t encouraged to be more than what our neighborhood or television allows us to envision of ourselves. Then we are also too scared to experience something new because it’s unfamiliar to us. In some other cultures, being inquisitive and curious about different foods, cultures, books, careers, and hobbies make children and people achieve things we didn’t deem possible. There are hobbies other than just basketball, football, and rapping to partake in. There are foods other than soul food, Chinese food, Italian food, and American cuisine. Try a Greek restaurant, or a Middle Eastern restaurant one day. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. We sometimes just have to be open to new experiences and different people.
Being a better you in 2011, is looking outside of your immediate circle and trying something innovative and new; being in tune with yourself takes time and growth. Our evolution is based on our own openness and determination to learn. Being stagnant, and doing the same thing over and over, leads to restricted possibilities. I always feel unfulfilled when my life has become montonous. My spirit compels me to find something fresh and brand-new for me to enjoy or find a liking towards; whether be a new song, book, or movie. However, this year, I plan to really develop my interests. Being considered interesting because of my experiences is a life long goal. Have you ever met someone who was just interesting because they have lived life to the fullest? They never let fear or rules stand in the way of them attaining their dreams and desires. I tell people all the time, “Don’t let you stand in the way of you.” Let go of the fear of being the “only one.” If something peaks your interest, then explore it. You may be really good at it and it could blossom into another source of income or career. You never know. A better you is shedding your usual way of thinking and give light to the possibility of something else.
If you are interested in a new restaurant, book, or cd, here are a few. Also share some of your favorites with me.
Books: You Have Given Me A Country by Neela Vaswani, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Great Food: Black Olive (Baltimore), Rasika (Washington D.C), Pho Nam (Catonsville), Rice (Washington D.C)
Music: The Best of Fela Kuti, Elis and Tom, When I Fall in Love (Chris Botti)