Euro-trip!

Birds in flight.

Just my luck, I managed to find myself in Europe for almost two weeks. Most normal people are probably glad to get the chance to leave the continent, and likely spend time planning in depth exactly where they want to go and what they want to do, right? Well, I wouldn’t be me if I could say I actually planned anything. Although there were plenty of things I had a vague desire to see, I was cognizant of the fact that it’d been about five years since I’d had any sort of “real” vacation, because I’d spent so much time trying to plan how I wanted the pieces of my life to fall together.

In retrospect, my micromanaging and obsession with trying to force my fate were slowly but surely killing me, and I’d stopped enjoying living. I’d stressed myself to the point of almost losing my sight. I was in a dark place, and when a friend came to me in need of money (it was a lot, over a grand), I was thrilled to lend it to them, seeing as I wasn’t anticipating needing it at the rate I was going. Letting them borrow my money was the beginning of a lifeline to get me into focus, though, as they were diligent about repaying me as quickly as possible and I felt glad to finally have at least one guaranteed human interaction a month, albeit only to exchange cash. They felt it was a miracle that I would have been willing to give them so much money without charging interest. Little did they know that much as I saved them in their time of need, they saved me.

It’s something I’ve harped on about before, but bears repeating: relationships and language matter. We’re social creatures, and we function primarily in these three different worlds:

  1. Work life
  2. Love life
  3. Social life
Normally, we can cope when something negatively affects one of those three, but we start to fall apart when we don’t feel connections in any of those, our lives lose meaning and we feel empty. Since I’d gone through a nasty break-up, was trying to survive a toxic work environment, and had distanced myself from friends both because some had moved away and others were friends with the ex, it felt like everything was broken. My solution? Throw myself more into work, if I kept busy enough I’d have an excuse to avoid coping with my feelings and could just collapse into sleep without having to think about anything. 
Eiffel Tower at sunset.

 When my friend suggested that they could pay me back by taking me along to Europe with them, it worked for me because while I get that money can be important for some people, it’s just a means to an ends for me. On its own, money is just that: cold cash that you should be the master of, and not the other way around. It funded the escape that I desperately needed to put some bits of my life into perspective, especially my tendency to over-plan. Although there were plenty of historical landmarks that I just had to see, not really planning allowed me to just wander, and soak up some sights that I would have otherwise missed. That photo of the Eiffel Tower? It happened completely by chance, just as the other 500 or so photos I took while out of the country.

Just as random as the arrangement of cans put

together by one of the few homeless persons I happened upon in Barcelona. What struck me most about Europe was how few homeless people were actually to be found, whereas wandering around in San Francisco, they’re a given like pigeons. It’s terribly sad, what must foreign visitors think of Americans? Capitalism is great because it taps into every person’s insatiable greed, but it comes at a huge human cost when the only concern is the bottom line of profit. Universal love and peace cannot happen while we as individuals elect to remain blind to the suffering of those around us.

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