Out of principle, my life choices are motivated by passion. I operate to the tune of my heart, constantly chasing opportunities with blind hunger for experience and thrill-seeking for the romance of adventure. When I was recently awarded the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree through contributing to real world solutions to issues of social justice in migration, all while spending three years based in the midst of European wine country, I jumped at the offer.
And so I find myself in my new home of Krems an der Donau, Austria, a postcard village an hour’s train journey from Vienna. The region lives up to every word of its acclaimed beauty. This veritable allure floods my view on my sleepy sunrise runs along the swan-studded Danube River, over which the skies turn from deep blue to waves of pink to morning light above the monstrous distant mountain range. It warms my skin as I feel the morning sunlight through the expansive window of my office that overlook the changing fall foliage adjacent to local vineyard land. Its aroma kisses my nose as I inhale the gourmet European coffee that seems to run on tap in my university. Krems is undeniably charming. Cute. Quaint. Calm. Quiet. Too quiet.
Despite my best logical efforts at appreciation, less than a week into my newfound village life, I am suffering withdrawal from city scenery. After moving to Boston to start my Masters degree two years ago, I promptly declared myself a “city girl” and swore of rural tranquility for life. Yet in spite of my best efforts at escaping my small-town roots, here I am again in a smaller yet admittedly more picturesque populous than my hometown.
In light of the fairy tale charm of my new home, I ask myself why this yearning persists despite the fact that the grass on the other side is concrete grey. When at heart, the highest urban jungles are just the same as the most expansive farmlands once we remove the superficial characteristics. Once we unplug the flashing lights, demolish the skyscrapers, halt the angry drivers, cancel the endlessly exciting events, slow the frantic pace, tame the anxious energy, arrest the stimulation, deconstruct the distraction, we are left only with the same outcome that we face in small-town life: headspace. And in that vast vacuum, we are forced to face the glaring reality of oneself.
My newfound headspace is undeniably a blessing for productivity. Yet more importantly, it facilitates self-reflection that can be found within us all if we relax the external longing and simply listen to the internal dialogue of the voice within whose wordless chorus begins within the serenely musical deafening roar of...