Two years ago my friend and I put our feet into the fountain by the National Archives to cool off from the 90-degree July heat. We had been walking for 6 hours and our sunburns were our strawberry-tainted proof.
The girl sitting at that fountain was full of pride and optimism. She was proud of the job she had just accepted after a brutal 4-month interview process. She was optimistic because she was finally moving to the same city as her boyfriend.
The girl who sat laughing at that fountain two years ago still didn’t know how to fix her plumbing, put air in a tire, or how to prepare herself for a new city, a new life. She was happy, but she was naïve.
She was about to start an adventure she had been dreaming about, but she just didn’t know that she would soon wind up with different dreams. She didn’t understand change, and confused what was obtainable versus available.
Two years ago she was sent to Arlington, Virginia for job training. She came one day early to visit one of her best friends, as well as see Washington DC for the first time.
Now, in the beginning of this year I set out to go somewhere every month in 2015. I debated about returning to cities or seeing something new. Yet something told me that the city would be different this time.
Well, it turns out the city was the same, but the girl visiting it had changed.
When I went back I didn’t just know how to put air in a tire… I came back with a better understanding of who I was, and the things that have shaped me, my mind, and my heart. I came back knowing what was truly significant to me.
The monuments were all still the exact same, but it was the way that I now saw them that was different. I wasn’t just looking at them with a tourist appeal, but with genuine awe for them really still being there and standing for something greater.
This time I could truly see more than just a history lesson. I could see how some things can have such a vast impact on the world, and leave their mark for centuries to come. It also made me realize the things that would be forgotten.
It is those things that the girl didn’t realize two years ago naively basking in the sun. The fact that some things might matter today, but have no influence on tomorrow. The world will move on. The world will change. The world will transpire without you.
So do not worry about the things that won’t be there when you return to a city, to your past, or to a memory. Worry, only, about the things that will last forever. Worry about the things that truly leave a legacy to your soul.
What in your life would you want to be remembered for? What would you build a statue for? Those are the things that should consume your time. The things that you hope will fade are the things that you should do right by yourself and throw away.
Two years ago that girl had the whole world in her hands but she didn’t know what to do with it. She focused on the things that were fleeting and transitory. It took coming back to this exact place to realize that all those things that mattered to her then do not matter to me now.
There are only a handful of things that have left their mark on my world, and those I still hold onto. Those are the dreams I’ll still bleed my heart out for. No longer will I waste a moment for something that won’t deserve a line in my story.
Focus on the things that will be the Washington Monument to your life; the center of it all, the goal that you can see from every angle and makes every picture a view. Focus on the things that make others drawn to you. Be happy. Be kind. Be things that last.
Because it’ll be too late, like it was for me, when I realized all the unimportant things that used to worry me. The ridiculous anxieties that are nothing but hours I cannot get back. They did not travel with me this time around. Those things did not make their way back to DC.
Be somebody that someone wants to tell a story about. Maybe they wont carve your face into a rock, but maybe your name is carved in their heart.