I left my home on Liebhartsgasse last month. A month before that I figured out that "lieb" means "dear," "good," and "lovely," and "hart" means "hard" and "tough." I've been living on lovely, tough street for four months. How apt! I came to Vienna with the intent of being present. I wanted to take Vienna as my opportunity to be like I had never been before. I didn't want to go to bed each night with the wish for a better tomorrow. I wanted to soak up each day into the night, exhausted at the glimmer of all the newness and foreign oldness. It just turned out to be so dang hard. I tried, and sometimes the trying got me lonely or indecisive or worried. It has absolutely been my flatmates and classmates and city mates that have made being in Vienna lovely. Those relationships are the weighty gold of my little life. Thank you to you all.
From being with you (in Vienna), I have learned in a more solidified way that no amount of my striving will ever make me live better. My striving incessantly fails me. It becomes just another distraction from the present when it is my focus. I remember being on a train about halfway into my Vienna days. Green was passing my roommate and I on both sides, and I was warm with gladness. It was such a pretty flurry. The light was streaming onto my face. I was enjoying right where I was, and even then, I was moving. I was not being all at once. The thought hit me: To be present in each moment is to Be—fully. To Be fully is to be God, the Great "I am." Presence all the time is not possible for a human. We cannot behold every moment for exactly what it is in its entirety. A self-consumed, or even view-consumed, constantly distracted human can be grateful, though. Humans who can't be fully present can still stand with open hands and say "thank you" any moment. And that's really the great gift of Life, that people can give thanks. I can't possibly look back and say I was grateful in all my opportunities to connect, see, taste, and climb. What I can say is that the people I got to be with, those relationships, have helped teach me to be grateful more. I'll bring that lesson home with me. I am tiny and given much everywhere I go.
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<p>Hello, hello! I'm Lauren Franklin, and I'm a junior at the University of San Diego. I'm an English major with a minor in psychology, and I'm trying to squeeze in as many theology and art classes as I possibly can. I would love to be the sort of student who's constantly found in the library studying away, but that's not always the case here: What bring me the most joy are grand stories, fresh produce, the green rolling outdoors, and creating and learning with friends who want to venture out together.</p>