Tag Archives: future

The Senior Bucket List

Senior year has arrived, and with it has come a most deplorable fate. The secret that has been hidden in plain sight. What we have chosen to ignore. Refused to even acknowledge its existence. It was easier that way… But now the time has come. No longer can our blissful ignorance protect us. Nor can we hide from the inevitable. The truth must come to light. Our eyes must be opened.
A cold, hard dose of reality slaps you in the face, beats you down to the ground, and leaves you just conscious enough to realize what is happening to you. We are seniors. We will be dragged – kicking and screaming against our wills – into what is known as “the real world”. Whispered rumors become full fledged realities. We have seen others succumb to this most harrowing fate, but it was never us. The day that we would be standing in the place of fabled seniors that were once our closest allies are now forgotten in the depths of what is called “undergraduate lyfe”.
Being buried under a pile of assignments doesn’t look so bad compared to the dirt that would be sprinkled over our metaphorical graves if we left. The death of our youth. And the birth of our adulthood. (which explains why there is so much kicking and screaming involved…)

While some seniors may turn their head in denial away from the impending doom of the future (myself included), others are taking preemptive measures to ensure they do join the ranks of the fallen. These seniors are spending their time studying for admissions tests, securing letters of recommendation, and finalizing their plans for the next step beyond the illusory experience of the undergraduate stage. But I cannot bring myself to do that. Not with so many unknown variables left to solve in my equation. This is what we have been trained for… so why do I feel immensely unprepared?

This is why I choose to invest my time into the present, hoping that it will pave a road for my future. It will be my “first time” for the last time this year. I won’t have the opportunity to be in an environment that facilitates the idiosyncratic nature of my being. College forces us to discover so I have to make use of that while I can.

I have clearly taken the “bucket-half-full” perspective on this one, so with no further ado I introduce THE ONE, THE ONLY

SENIOR BUCKET LIST

  • Walk Across a Frozen Lake Mendota – possibly singing songs from the “Frozen” soundtrack
  • Ice Skate in Teeney Park
  • Go to a Drag Show
  • Release a Red Heart-Shaped Balloon in the Capital building
  • Take a Picture with Bucky
  • Take a Walk in the Tunnel System
  • Olbrich Garden – Thai Pagoda
  • Attend a Muslim mosque, St. Paul’s church, Jewish synagogue, Buddhist temple
  • Obtain a pink flamingo
  • Open Mic “Take On Me” at a student org
  • Shake hands with Chancellor Blank
  • Ride Merry-Go-Round at Ella’s Deli
  • Go Inside the Clock Tower
  • Sit on Abe’s Lap
  • Love and be loved in return
  • Participate in the Battle on Bascom
  • Steal a lunch tray and sled down Bascom
  • Go out to lunch with my friend Ty Tau
  • Sneak into Camp Randall at night
  • Freakfest!
  • Eat at L’Etoile
  • Badger football game?!?
  • Essen Haus Boot Challenge
  • Steal a Memorial Union chair
  • Go somewhere I have never been before
  • Eat the Plaza Burger
  • 5K! Color Run?
  • Go to Holi, Diwali, Chinese New Year… SOMETHING!!!
  • Drink at The Library
  • Orchestra Recital!
  • Positively impact a random stranger’s life
  • Leave my mark on the UW-Madison campus
  • Nothing Left Unsaid – ongoing life perspective

That, my friends, concludes my list of unexplored mischief for my final year on campus. But by no means is it exhaustive! I just wanted to open a dialogue to generate ideas about what I should and want to be doing before I leave for good. One final rally that would make all my dreams come true – whether I knew what those dreams were or not. I want to look back on these moments and reminisce over all the crazy things that I have thought, and said, and done (it usually happens in that order). But as I ponder of the wonders of my life that are yet to be had, I have come to realize that I can’t plan everything. That is the nature of the future. It is unknown. And there is just too much adventure to be had!!! So until then I’ll take life one slice at a time and make sure that my mischief gets managed.

Advertisements

Flying, Falling, Freeing

I don’t know how this happened. I just know that it did. I remember earlier this year after watching “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, I wanted do everything that they did. For three weeks, I had new idols and new life ambitions. My focus on becoming a Kingsman faded with the initiation of finals week, but I still relished the idea. When my roommate mentioned it was his lifelong dream to sail through the skies at terminal velocity, my mind was made up. We were going to do it. On nothing more than a whim, I gathered information, identified cheap tandem skydiving sites, and coerced my closest acquaintances into my psychopathic fantasies of this potentially fatal pastime.

During the ride to the Wisconsin Skydiving Center, I was so psyched to be doing this. Skydiving?!? This was in my wildest dreams. And I would be doing it with my best friends. It was pure excitement. It was uninhibited joy. It would fulfill my thrill-seeking, adrenaline-crazed, sense of adventure quota for the month! Probably… But this would be a highlight of my summer. A highlight of my life.

Unlike them, we will all knew that we had parachutes… or at least we were attached to people that had them

Scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, uploaded by Steve Hubbard

When we arrived at the Skydiving Center, my enthusiasm skyrocketed. We were here! I could see the hanger, the planes, and the instructors donning obscure jumpsuits. My objective was sitting right in front of me and I would waste no time to completing my mission. My roommates and I quickly signed the papers and completed the training. I didn’t really pay attention much though. I was too focused on the end result to pay attention to the basic life-saving maneuvers and standard operating procedure for basic skydiving survival skills. Talking about the experience wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t continue living vicariously through brochures and pamphlets. I want to create my own adventures.

Naturally, I volunteered to go first. I would tribute myself to appease the skies. The wind wanders aimlessly, searching to release unsuspecting travelers from the Earthly chains that bind them. We must sacrifice our Earthly natures in order to ascend. The sky has something to teach us and I was about to discover the secrets that it held most dear. Guru Laghima said it most appropriately:

“Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty and become wind.”

zaheermeditating

FAVORITE LoK Villian right here #trueflight

We would soar ever higher, above the cloud layer and over 9000(ft). But as we continued our slow ascent to the heavens above, the reality of the situation began to register in my brain. We were 10,000 above the ground. Two months ago I could only dream of the possibilities of floating among the clouds and observing the atmospheric processes that directed their movement. But now that my eyes – along with the rest of my body – could view the masses of clouds and feel the direction of airflow, I wasn’t so sure that this was what I wanted. But it did not matter anymore because we had arrived at our destination. The sky was the limit and we had reached the end of the line.

The end of the line meant that we were supposed to be ready. The instructor unlocked the latch and opened the door to my demise. My initial excitement immediately melted into a distressful terror. What was I doing at this height?!? 10,000 ft in the air? How did I get here? Before I had not questioned the sequence of events that led up to this moment, but now that was the only thought on my mind. I grabbed the rope with my hand. My mind was racing, but my heart beat faster. I put my foot on the step outside the plane. My inner being was telling me to choose life. And I was in the perfect position to fall.

But that’s why I was doing this. I wanted to live.

The time fell upon me. We were here and there was only one thing left to do. I longingly stared down to the Earth, remembering the comfort that solid ground beneath my feet gave me. I did not know what was going to happen, but I knew I had to do this. I took one last breath.

And then I began to fall.

We first fell backwards and I could only stare at the sky and wonder how there existed anything above our current altitude. But then we flipped and I was tumbling though the air, swirling in endless loops in all directions. We stabilized. I felt a rush of air blasting upward, cutting through me. Into my body and into to my soul. I tried to scream. I couldn’t hear any words. There was air all around me, but I couldn’t even breathe. I was shaking. There was no weight to my body. I didn’t exist anymore. But when I made the strange realization that I was nothing more than a disembodied conscious, it was then that I was free.

I looked towards the ground knew that I was flying. –Er, well falling. Plummeting more actually. But I was in the sky and I was the wind. I felt the acceleration of my body, falling faster and faster. And I extended my limbs to their furthest points so my entire body could capture this moment. My mouth was wide open trying to take in the experience because I knew that any attempt to gasp for air was futile. I had released my Earthly tether. I had entered the void. I emptied and became wind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A vicarious viewing of my socially deviant behavior

But then I was pulled upward. Yanked back into my body and out of this otherworldly experience. The parachute had deployed. Our freefall was over. We began our leisurely descent back down to Earth. And it was in these moments that I learned the most.

Now that the most exhilarating moments had fleetingly left us, it was time to reflect. My instructor told me to sit in silence and observe my surroundings. I looked across the horizon and down to the Earth, in search of new insight for my fatigued state of mind. I could see everything from up above. The organizational layout of the cities, the plots of land dedicated to agricultural production, the thin strips of black road that transport people from one location to the next. But none of the people below even knew that I was up there or that I even existed. I was an inactive participant, removing myself so I could observe the story unfolding before my eyes and the people creating it. As the wind guided us gently to the ground, it gifted me with the experience of flight and a new perspective with which I could view the world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

7/10 for the landing – Didn’t quite stick it…

When I landed I was breathless. Partially because my heart still had not stabilized, but mostly because I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened! It wasn’t until afterwards, when I sat and reflected on the experience that I began to feel more down-to-Earth (likely because I had Earth to stand on now). But in all honesty, I did learn the power of sky. The power it has to see what others cannot. The immense beauty that it contained. And the potential for danger that it held.

Skydiving provided irrefutable evidence for my next step in life. It showed me that I should not be afraid to jump head-first into the unknown. It is where we can learn the most about ourselves and the world. It is completely necessary to push past the boundaries of our comfort zones. And sometimes it is the only way. We can move forward by being in the moment. We can welcome our journey into the uncharted lands of the future.

“… And once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

EDIT 08/24/15 Changed quotation credit from Zaheer to Guru Laghima – newb mistake, I know…

Moving Out and Moving On

One week ago I – and the rest of Madison – engaged in the pleasantries and pains of Move-Out Day. Everyone had an immense amount of preparations to make to ensure save travel and transportation of their precious life’s belongings into their new houses and out of their old lodging. We were required to erase our existence from the space we had inhabited for so long. We packed our rooms that were full of an overwhelming assortment of items, we scrubbed the rooms free of the filth that had accumulated because our forsaken house chores, we were compelled to forgive and forget the excitement – or “drama” – of the past year, and lastly we vacated the premises to release our old homes from the duty of sheltering ourselves from the outside. And lest we be labeled as trespassers and fined outrageous fees, we left the cracked walls and crumbling floorboards of our homesteads behind. But the empty shell that we were leaving behind held our history, etched into the walls of the apartment and the corridors of our minds. The relationships we had forged existed as residual echoes of our time there. Remnants of our old lives would resurge whenever we saw each other again, remembering the good times and the bad and all the shenanigans that ensued. We weren’t really saying goodbye.

With my capacity for anxiety filled to the brim, I left looking forward to the change that was about to occur. With a new apartment came a new set of roommates to learn to live with in the upcoming year. We would cook, clean, exercise, joke, annoy, laugh, insult, fight, celebrate, push the boundaries of our comfort zones, see more of each other that we ever would need to for a lifetime, navigate this whole “college thing” together, and experience the life as a set of “bros” together.

I love my roommates in the most heterosexual way #bros4lyfe

Video credits awarded to youtube stars nigahiga and chestersee

Because my new roommates already lived with the same management company that we were going to live with this year, move out and move in could be accomplished on the same day. That meant no Homeless Night for any of us! But it also meant TWICE the work in one day… Though with the resolve to have a roof over our heads and the imminent termination of their leases to pressure us, we all worked together to haul our livelihood out of destitution and into our dependable – though distant – new apartment. In just under three hours we had moved all of our stuff and some additional Christmas goodies into our home base.

The move-in was not that difficult, not any more strenuous or harrowing than the average experience. What was most daunting was the change attached to moving. Every year I am forced to uproot my life and restart. Implanting facets of my life onto new ground and adapting to the new environment. I have fallen into an endless cycle of instability, unable to identify sources of a fixed nature to anchor me in place. But this year I know that is going to change.

In the past I have lived with the people that I currently live with now. But I detached myself from them, thinking that I needed to be alone to truly grow to my full potential. But even as the distance separated me from them, the intended isolative effect could not take root. I still saw them every week. I still spent my weekends at their house. Nothing changed. Except for my outlook. These were the relationships that we were meant to have in college. The proverbial friends that you will have forever. I was missing out on major life events. I was missing out on building a life that had meaning. It is only with the assistance of an unwavering community of friends that I will achieve an unchanging state of mind. I will solidify my amorphous state of affairs, shaping the future of my final year on campus.

Throughout my years on campus, I have developed rapport with an abundance of campus advocates to help guide me through my journey. There are so many people that have placed their faith in me to become a successful, contributing citizen of this interconnected world. And I will not let them down. I will not let myself down. I have come too far to let that happen.

10943844_10205132268924372_7779035889395025932_n

Everything changed when the Kai nation attacked…

In my first year I learned to let go of the past and not focus on who I was.

In my second year I searched deep within my soul and discovered who I am.

In my third year I explored the possibilities that lie ahead and envisioned all that I could be.

In my fourth year I will take hold of my future and tell the world everything that is Kai.

Look out Madison. A wild Kai has appeared. Truthfully, he’s been here all along. But now he has decided that he would let you know.

Fortune’s Fool

“As long as you don’t sign up for anything new, you’ll do fine.”

These were the words that I read in questionable confusion, as my lunch break came to an end. The problem wasn’t the lack of specificity or creativity in detailing my providence. The problem was that my very nature contradicted with the destiny I had been served.

I continually search for new opportunities to trade in for my current ones. The endless upheaval of my positions, coursework, and research impedes my ability to travel on a single path for my future. The only certainty is my tendency to remain undecided. If a fear of commitment is what has been stopping me, then the very idea of complying to the demands of fortune-cookie-fortune-writers was absurd. But not THAT absurd.

The knock-off treats had a point. They acted as a source of illumination, shining a light onto the darkness that lay before me.

POINT: The chances of receiving this specific fortune that so unspecifically assigned my fortunes had to have fallen within the probabilities for statistical significance.

COUNTERPOINT: This is the same reasoning defending the nature of horoscopes.

Something to keep in mind as I begin this year and initiate another cycle of implementing order to the chaos. If my success was contingent upon rejecting new opportunities, then I was doomed to a life of “not fine” according to my fortune cookie fate…

At the end of the day, it is my choice. And I am not about to let a fortune cookie have a significant impact on my major life decisions. No matter what the future held in store for me, I would have to wander into the dark eventually. With this new perspective, I think I could handle it. As long as I developed night vision… then I’d be fine.

But I was not about to completely ignore the American-Chinese-restaurant-tradition either. I would take the middle ground. And eat the semi-sweet shell that enclosed nothing more than a string of random words and a list of lucky numbers.