Write. Don’t Write. Write broadly so that people can relate to you. Writing should be personal- don’t conform.
Keep it chronological. Write what you want. Don’t force it.
Take a break.
Don’t take too long of a break.
Why aren’t you writing?
I had just finished writing about the time I spent in Italy. The crazy spontaneity and unmatched adventures from that trip meant the article basically wrote itself, but that didn’t mean my whole heart didn’t go into writing that piece.
*cue overdramatization of events*
When I found out my article was deleted (nowhere to be found, trust me I checked a zillion times,) I felt defeated. And I mean truly devastated. I felt like my heart had just fallen out of my chest and dropped into my stomach. I was left with that queasy feeling- you know which one. I ran home from my favorite little La Qarmita café in Granada, where most of my writing is done, and sulked. Everyone told me to rewrite it, but the only thought going through my head was “I don’t want to.”
Once I calmed down, I started writing down everything I could remember from that article. And essentially, it had two focuses. The second point was about the idea a lot of travel posts are centered around- spontaneity, going with the flow, and truly, truly living in the moment. Cliché enough for you? Well, my first point was what had let me to this second one.
In Granada, I was sitting in Pilar’s apartment one Wednesday afternoon. Pilar is the elderly woman I volunteered with weekly, although “volunteering” doesn’t exactly paint the right picture. Basically, I got to hang out with Pilar every Wednesday afternoon and talk about all kinds of things. One afternoon, Pilar showed me a video on her phone. It was a cartoon of all these people carrying HUGE crosses on their backs. One of the characters got the bright idea to cut his to make it more convenient to carry- clever little guy. Well, the characters got to a cliff without a bridge. Every character aside from the “clever” one could cross the pass by setting down their long cross. The message at the end said “No preguntes a Dios porque.”
“Do not ask God why.”
The message stuck with me. It was what got me through the various things that would be thrown in my direction in the days and weeks to come, starting in Italy.
So Italy- what happened there?
First I missed a flight. No Preguntes a Dios porque.
Okay, I got on a different flight, but the delay led to a ripple effect of missing all my carefully scheduled out transportation and I missed the train from Milan to Como. Do not ask God Why.
After hours of trying to find wifi and outlets to purchase a new train ticket, I got a new train- the last one of the night, actually. But after running through the Milano Centrale train station like a crazy person to make my two minute connection, it seemed more than plausible that I had jumped on the wrong train. Okay, God why!?
I was terrified. It was midnight. I didn’t speak any Italian, and my phone was going to die. My cheeks were tear stained (to say the least), but I eventually worked up the courage to simultaneously wipe them off and attempt to communicate with the Italian girl in front of me.
And Irealized two things.
1. People are just people. They shouldn’t scare you.
2. Communication through kindness breaks any and every language barrier that exists.
Arianna not only assured me I was on the right train, but also made sure I got off the train at the right stop (the one she was getting off at as well.) And when I panicked about the lack of buses and taxis at that hour of the night, her entire family drove me to my hostel without hesitation. You guys, we had little to NO verbal communication but I will forever remember these people as some of the kindest in the world (and the reason I am convinced Italians are all wonderful).
Do not ask God why. I am convinced that all bad will turn into good (eventually) because HE is good. And although I had so many more testing moments then and now, my theory has not yet proved to be wrong.
One night later, I missed the last bus back to my hostel. The Italian bartender drove me home on his Vespa. I owe you one, Fabio.
Three nights later, I had to make the decision to skip the Venice part of my Italy tour because there just wasn’t enough time. I was devastated, but I trusted. And in return, I got an extra day in Florence and a day trip to Siena. In return, I fell in love with Tuscany and got to take my time and travel rather than tour, a significantly important skill to learn.
I have had so many 5am mornings waiting in line to get tickets for the Uffizi in Florence, the Vatican in Rome and the Alhambra in Granada due partly to tourism season, but mostly due to lack of planning on my part. But each time, He provides more than I could have ever imagined. I have met so many wonderful people waiting in these outrageous lines. And man, even the fact that Amanda and I got to last tickets to see the Nasrid palaces at night says it all. That night alone was worth waiting in a line for any amount of time at any hour in the morning.
I experienced missed transportation to itinerary changes to lost (and found) cellphones and whatever else made me ask WHY in Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, France, and wherever else I have been since the moment I thought my life was over when my original article got deleted. I bet you forgot about that article right?
Me too. And maybe that’s the point.
I ignored a wonderful friend of mine who said “Natalie, maybe this happened because you were supposed to write another article.” But, I get it now. Two months later, I get it. And as I am writing this article on a train from Marseille to Paris, having also written it on a bus from Alicante to Valencia, in a hostel in Bilbao, sitting next to a river in the Basque Country and on a flight to Lisbon, I feel happy. Because I am not writing due to ridiculous personal deadlines or because I feel like it is a mandatory task. I am writing because after two months of reflecting upon whether I want to write this article or not, I decided I would. I am writing because the words are sitting in my head ready for my heart to hear them and put them on this page. I am writing because I want to.
Why weren’t you writing? Because it is what I love. And I needed to be reminded of that.
And even though two months seemed like an eternity, I know now not to do the one thing I am always tempted to-
Do not ask God why.