Just about a week before I left for Vienna, I was scrolling through Instagram. It was a nervous, hungry scroll, one that I committed when I should have been packing or writing this post. I was seeking to escape the fierce reality that I would be leaving home in 10 days for a wildly different faraway place. I had all my material items purchased and gathered in one room, and I knew I could leave my family and friends even though it would cause a great soreness inside me. I knew that the ocean air would still mist my face and chill my bones when I got back. I just didn't feel ready to leave so soon, despite all of those truths. At night I would find my brain trickling willingly into the glimmering, mirrored realm of Instagram to get lost in some other people's worlds and escape the reality that I would very soon be lost in the great, big real one.
There is usually not much inspiration gleaned from these distracting escapades, and their frequency increased as time more and more aggressively threatened to swaddle me and toss me to Vienna. Generally I will tear through photos and photos; pause to relish in the awful feeling of yearning for someone else's clothing or house or precious little brood of small nugget-children; pause to admire the really fantastic beauty of the earth thanks to really fantastic photographers' visions and steady hands; and then I will close the app on my phone to catch my breath. This one particular night, I was caught by the most positively intriguing post.
The children’s author and avid Instagrammer, Dallas Clayton, is a man whose words framed in the context of photos reliably fill my feed with nutty, sensible, nourishing fodder for thought. The Clayton quote that sustained me as I fought nerves and the fear of fleeing my home was, “Get out from your house, from your cave, from your car, from the place you feel safe, from the place that you are. Get out and go running, go funning, go wild. Get out from your head and get growing, dear child."
I sat to ponder and scribble, processing the truth that even though I was soaring out of my house and my cave and my car, home–and my entire life up until that point, really–had been full of distractions. I found myself falling to distractions constantly in different forms through social media, people, food, school, and everything but the very moment that held me. I was not “get[ting] growing” because of my flighty mindset. I realized how much I was avoiding the moment and avoiding the very thin scariness of Life that asks so much vulnerability of me. I was scared of the unknown that lived in Vienna, but I did not want to bring my distraction-prone self to Vienna and lose all opportunity at really living there.
Clayton’s words reminded me that with this journey ahead I want to really be present. I want to be in the Schmetterling Haus sipping kaffe when I’m there, even if I am still feeling anxious about living in a foreign place all the while. I want to be tromping and breathing heavily on the Viennese hiking paths, even if I am uncomfortable because I’m trekking beside new people who hardly know me. I’d like to be genuinely eager to drink in the springy fresh tap water at the end of each day, because I really was all there. I am not interested in continuing to look forward to "tomorrow" each night, hoping that the next day will be better because the day that just ended was unfamiliar and socially taxing and simply exhausting. I find that wherever I am I have the propensity to escape the beauty of the place in front of me because Life asks for all of my attention, and that’s just so scary.
My one true call this trip is to be where I am and to be all there. I am grateful that I have this opportunity to begin righting the wrongs in Vienna and through this blog. So, on this blog, I want to share the presence of living in Vienna (and little bits of life around the city, too).
My biggest fear is that whoever stumbles here might think traveling across the world is the only way to get out and get growing. Writing this post, I do want to encourage others to get out. I do want others to be encouraged to seek places beyond, but I want to express that this it not the point. I’m stressing a concept, not a physical duty to leave. I don’t want people to read this post and feel the urge to escape. I’ve felt that reckless, burning urge before that tells me the place I am will never grow me enough. I think that might be a lie, though. It’s right up there with the lie that Instagram will give me the burst of fulfillment I desire when I’m scared of the future. “Get out” might mean different things for different people. Maybe for one person today that means taking a bike out and exploring the town he or she grew up in or trekking to the next town over to really see what’s there. Chatting with someone new or an old friend could be someone’s next adventure. I find that no matter what, adventure requires a surrendering of distractions, the comforts of daily life that we willingly seek over time. Distractions are the sole insulator in my life, and Vienna threatens to strip me of all of them so that I might finally be present somewhere for the first time. While abroad, I will work ardently to put the phone down and breathe, and drink in the silkiness of a new place.
I pray that whoever sees these words would also want to get out, but I would caution, don’t just get out. Get out and be there. Whether it’s “here” or “there.” I challenge whoever you are to be where you are. I hope Clayton's words and mine encourage you to seek adventure right where you are. Just know that you might have to give up Instagram, or television, or gossip, or driving all the time instead of walking, all those small things that add up to keep us from the adventure of daily Life.
Welcome to my hungry scroll. Here I’ll be starving for presence in a new place. I can’t wait to share more about being in Vienna.
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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>