Stepping Stones

Max Siragusa - Senegal


July 10, 2012

I don’t normally bare my soul and my past in writing; what is written should be reality in words, life on paper, not espousals on who I am. So, I’ll keep this brief, for my sake and for yours.

I never thought I’d be doing something like this. Ever. It is, though, important to understand that I have always wanted to travel. Traveling is more than simply going somewhere for the sake of going somewhere. Traveling is going somewhere for the sake of gaining insight into other human beings and, moreover, to see beauty. The world in my experience is a place that is a juxtaposition of what is (simply put) beautiful and what is not. It is very easy to lose sight of what is pleasant and what is desirable and what is beautiful, and breaching the edges of our immediate sphere of perception is how we breach the walls that make us less tolerable, more ignorant, and less kind creatures. I realized I wanted to travel as much as I possibly could when I saw the Birth of Venus for the first time in person. The Ufizi was crowded that day and when I saw the painting, I stood and stared. THAT painting, THAT experience, is why I want to travel. I walked away that day seeing something more in people than I did before. Any species with the ability to make something so beautiful and so immortal, any species so fleeting yet able to make something lasting beyond itself; in short, any species that can make something so radically beautiful that those who gaze on it better see their own cohorts, is a species I want to acquaint myself with in more aspects than simply the aesthetic ones.

This gap year in Senegal with Global Citizen Year is just a stepping stone. I don’t mean to belittle it; I mean that as a human being (a creature that is ultimately a culmination of experiences) this is one way for me to prepare myself for a life abroad and to see the world that exists far, far beyond my immediate sensory sphere. This stepping stone is one that I need desperately to dust off the disillusionment I’ve felt the last four years as part of a system that didn’t care, and that I need so I can taste what the rest of my life will be like if I chase my dreams. To go and make life decisions without some measured thought is at best a roulette and at worst a suicide of the spirit- at the very least, I want to see what my existence is like when I live as I want to.

I have plans beyond attending Cornell College when I return from Senegal, but I want to keep my hops to those planned stepping stones fairly close to the vest for right now. At this moment, I bear in mind the Buddhist precept of remaining in the Present and not letting the Future cloud my life.

At this moment, I simply wait to undergo this experience with my Fellows in quiet eagerness.

Max Siragusa