Antigua

I spent a few days this week in Antigua.  Antigua is a historic town a few miles away from Guatemala City, full of old churches and cobblestone streets and touristy souvenir shops.  Getting around Guatemala is always an adventure—especially when you’re doing it alone. But I booked a charter bus out of Xela, hopped on another crowded bus a few miles outside of Antigua, turned down a dinner invitation from a very friendly Guatemalan man, and arrived in a completely unfamiliar city around 7 PM.

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Once I got off the bus, there was no plan.  I had booked a hostel for the night, but had only a vague idea of where it was.  So I grabbed my backpack and wandered around for a while. (You should note that the city center was full of well-lit streets and lots of people.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend wandering around in an unfamiliar city by yourself at night in Guatemala.)

I had planned to stay two days, but ended up staying for three.  In the course of those three days, I wandered around the city, took lots of pictures, shopped for used books, and drank lots of coffee.  I hung out on the hostel’s rooftop deck, made new friends, and had some great conversations.  I was there, and I was present, and I wasn’t worried about sticking to a schedule or figuring out what comes next.  Something about it was incredibly freeing.

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But then, at the same time, I started worrying about “real life”.  I started worrying about not having a plan.  I may have said some things I regret, all because I’m so worried about what’s going to happen next.

There’s this myth that says we always have to have a plan.  We have to know what’s next, we have to be responsible and financially stable and prepared for the future.  And right now, I’m feeling the pressure.  I am leaving Guatemala in a little over two months, and once my plane touches the ground in Chicago in June, there is no plan.  It all makes me feel like an incredibly irresponsible person when I think about it too much.

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But when I think about my experiences this week, maybe it’s okay not to have a plan.  Even though my financial situation dictates that I can’t just be a wandering vagrant forever, maybe it’s okay to just be present or a while.  To be receptive to new possibilities.  To see what happens next.

It will be a new adventure, and for now I’m okay with that.

When Everything Goes Wrong

“What are you afraid of?” he said. “Don’t you trust that God has a plan?” I had this conversation with a pastor in the beginning of my junior year of college.  I had spent the summer selling over-priced vegetable plants for minimum wage while my many of my friends had landed great internships, gone on exciting trips, or gotten engaged to the love of their life. The recession was in full swing, and I was terrified of what would happen when I was no longer living my life by a course catalog. God was at work in everyone else’s life, but was he going to take care of me?  [Read more…]