Owning Happiness

It’s my last night in Brazil and I’m….happy? I set aside time tonight to
write something profound. A pontification on life’s beginnings and ends, a
graceful foray through my best memories in Brazil, and the things I’ll miss
most of all, hammering the keys as tears stream down my face. And yet it’s
here and I’m just… happy. There’s no question in my mind, I don’t want to
leave, the last 8 months have been the best of my life and I very firmly
believe that if I were to stay longer, my personal growth and happiness
would only continue to develop. But alas, faz parte. That’s life. I’ve had
an incredible experience here, and I can genuinely say that I regret
nothing. I went through cycles over the last few days and weeks
emotionally. Most of the time I was incredibly happy. Then something would
happen, I’d realize it was the last time I’d ever do, see, feel that thing,
and I’d be sad for a moment, maybe two. Then I’d lift my head, and realize
that were 300 other things to turn my attention to, and my sadness passed
quickly. I’ve thought a lot about why that is. My life in Brasil really has
been my best life. The idea that any component of that is sealed away into
a thing of the past is sad for me, because I’ve been so intensely enjoying
the present. But at the same time, I’m immensely and authentically grateful
for every bit of happiness I’ve experienced, because I viewed absolutely
none of it as given. I had no expectations up until just a couple months
before, that any part of this year would happen, certainly not in the way
that it’s happening, and I was happy with where my life was at before. With
zero expectations and zero sense that I deserved my happiness, every good
thing that has happened to me has just been icing on the cake. That, and I
really do feel like I did this year right.

I’ve formed meaningful relationships with people from all 5 major
continents. I befriended a churro man with a startup, and a Chilean woman
who aligned my chakras to ‘life’s tunes’. I made my own drum, performed in
Carnaval. I went to Serra do Tabuleiro, Garopaba, Curitiba, São Paulo, Rio
de Janeiro, Salvador, Florianópolis. I went paddle boarding and surfing. I
saw a penguin, cheered on a turtle, chased puppies. I climbed a tree and
fell out of that tree. I revelled in the banal, and scoffed off the
profound. I chased after many busses and missed many busses. I missed a
flight. I had an entire airport conspire against me. Twice. I hitchhiked
with a woman on her second day back from living in Kenya, and took an uber
with a Palestinian man married to a Brazilian Jew. I collected pounds of
trash, made paper, reimagined my concept of waste. I contemplated the
meaning of purpose, and the purpose of meaning. I had my phone stolen, then
a month later got it back. I learned Portuguese, sucked at Portuguese, and
absolutely slayed at Portuguese. I reveled daily in the wonder of language
learning. I conducted interviews, and made a documentary. I protested and
debated, and way more importantly, I listened a lot. I cooked pão de queijo
and nega maluca and really awful beans and rice. I let other people cook me
beans and rice and ate enough to last a lifetime. I developed addictions to
açaí, Guarana, and paçoca. I drank way too much coffee and escaped a
caffeine addiction. I did an obscene amount of paper machê. I gave
speeches, and attended lectures. I went to bars and just talked for hours.
I took long walks on the beach, and long walks through the city. I sat
watching lightning until 3am. I swam in a thunderstorm, danced in the rain,
danced Samba and Forró, danced and fought and played Capoeira. I fell in
love. I cried, I laughed until it hurt, caught my breath, and laughed some
more. I’ve learned and grown, and struggled and triumphed, and I don’t know
if its just gap year cliches or if there’s some greater meaning, but this
was my life, my real life, and I owned it. So yes. It’s my last night in
Brazil. And I’m happy.