Jacaranda Days

Dear seafarer,

The jacarandas are in full bloom. The trees look like they are steeped in pools of purple. I wish that the petals weren’t swept away, and were allowed to accumulate. We could have acres and acres of purple replacing concrete, at least for the time being.

A funny story, about jacarandas. I significantly associate them to how I chose my current university, The University of Queensland. When researching up other universities, I recall having a dozen tabs open, but I always came back to this one; because I was inherently drawn to the website, which featured a banner of purple jacarandas, against a backdrop of sandstone buildings.

Even the name sounded intuitively “attractive”, inside my head. I said it over and over again.

The University of Queensland.

And here I am today.

Really, if you asked me why I am, where I am; despite the ridiculous amount of overthinking I did, in the end the decision was made with snap judgment. Sure, I could tell you what seems right; they have an established history in this and that, there is a good research base for honours, prestige, etcetera. But I can tell you now that none of those reasons made me feel particularly compelled about anything. All I recall was that I analysed myself into a corner, I was extremely upset and confused, I had an awareness that I needed to make a move, now, or risk living the rest of my life in regret, that I was running out of time, that I was a disappointment, what are the pros and cons of choosing this over that, which job could I do which would earn me a stable income, is this respectable enough, would I be employable, could I do it, would I like it, where would I live, who would I meet….

Somehow, in the noise of the moment, there was this single, clear, quiet thought:

Jacarandas. They look pretty. I think I want to go there. 

I am always moved by emotion; whether or not something “feels” right. The bigger the implications of the decision, the harder it becomes for me to make a decision. While logic comes with reason, “feeling” comes with something which makes sense on an abstract level, and these may change depending on circumstances. I can promise you that the sun will shine tomorrow by knowledge of science, but I can’t promise you that I’ll feel happy tomorrow. To think that some of my biggest decisions were made on something so unreliable is a little scary. I wish I could believe more in logic and reason.

It is a luxury to be given choice, but with choice; comes risk and responsibility. If things go terribly wrong, you have only yourself to blame. Ten years down the road, if I am in a cardboard box or struggling to pay the bills, I’m not sure if it would make me feel any better to know that I had a part in picking my own poison.

Humans are full of contradiction. We want autonomy, but freedom of choice only becomes attractive when we are certain of the value we want, and the probability of us obtaining it. I’d naturally rather be responsible for my own success, than my own failures.

Still, I think that there is something beautiful in people who take charge of their own lives. Even if they don’t have all the answers. Even if they are scared witless. Even if it means living in turbulent uncertainty. I genuinely think that human courage is one of the most incredible, awe-inspiring things you could witness. From little things like speaking out in a crowd, to bigger things like giving up a “guaranteed future”, to taking up a leadership position… incredible stuff. Truly incredible stuff. 

I suppose it is fear which makes the pay-off so much more worth it, in the end. Whatever the pay-off ends up becoming, experiencing courage alone is worth falling, fearing, fighting for.

Fast forward from that snap decision.

Yesterday, I stood under jacaranda trees, watching the petals fall, in a strange country miles away from home, half in awe, half in disbelief, but full of budding hope.

Until we meet again, dear seafarer.

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