And I’m still reeling, still amazed, and still yearning for more.
Thanking people always seemed a bit disingenuous to me, they are just words-and they can be such lies (as a writer, I know). But I truly do mean this when I say thank you so much for everything that I have learned and, more importantly, showing me that I am not alone in my ideals and hopes.
It is easy to think with the Internet that it would be easy to connect to people of the same ilk as you and to a certain extent that is true-but nothing can compare to seeing the sparkle in the eyes of someone in front of you when the conversation truly interests them. Nothing is the same as when you sit at a table with strangers you’ve just met and your heart grows because they have seeded themselves in you, and you never want to say goodbye.
I suffered a moment of anxiety when I first received the email that I would be sent to L.A. It wasn’t that I thought it was a scam, that it would be a waste of my time, or that I would be sold into some kind of slavery that would ultimately lead to my young death (though I did think about all these things). I was nervous that I wouldn’t connect with the people, the message, the mission. With organizations like Students of the World, where the ultimate goal is to do good, I often find that people are blinded by hope and good intentions. While that inspires me I often find myself drained of energy because the cynical side of me (believe or not, it exists) just wants to laugh in their face and tell them, “But how is this going to happen? How are you going to convince others? How is this going to keep you alive?” etc. This absolutely tears me up inside, because I desperately want the world to work in a way where everyone is sure in their decisions and their hope and dreams can just power all systems-but it doesn’t.
You would think that in L.A., a city described to suck souls out of hopeful artists leaving only dried husks of people flailing on poles, would only exacerbate my feelings. And while I admit the city as its own entity was not quite as awe inspiring as places like New York City, Toronto, and my home town of Hong Kong, the people I got to meet blew my mind. Not just out of my skull leaving me just incapable of having quality conversation (*cough*David Simon *cough*) but with so much awesome that some of it actually stayed in my brain and continues to inspire me everyday.
Thank you for all of the wonderful information and stories that made my brain keep turning and turning in hopes that I could figure out a way to create a time machine so that I could keep learning more. Thank you for reinforcing the idea that failure is real, normal, and something that you should embrace. Thank you for believing that my and future generations can do good and trusting us enough to ask for our opinions (sorry about trashing your new TV show, but we just want to help). Thank you for giving us connections and a network with some of the most amazing people I have ever met (so amazing that I don’t feel worthy to mentioned in the same breath as them). Thank you for giving me something real to strive for and work hard towards.
P.S. I regret my attempt to use “greatest gratitudes” in lieu of “thank you.” I regret that a lot, forgive me.