Destined to Learn

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I believe in God more than anyone in this world. There has not been anyone that can stand as high for me other than my mother. They are the two most important people in my life because they know me and they know when I need them. God over the last few years of my life has been giving me so much advice and he has answered my callings numerous times that it would be impossible not to believe in him. I cannot see him but I know he is there. Guarding. Protecting. Helping. He knows that he is my friend, my family, my mentor, because he knows everything. He knows me and understands me. He is the hand that relieves me from my wrongs and pushes me to the right path. I believe in God.
God knows I love trips to places I rarely see, especially the beach. Some summers ago my family and I were going to go on a trip to Mexico to see my relatives and to go to the beach while we are there. I was most excited about going to the beach, I’ll be honest, but I did want to see my relatives too... not as bad as the beach though. I packed two days earlier just to make sure I had everything and was not forgetting anything. I checked my imaginary list twice or three times to be extra sure. I had all my cloth, all my soaps and towels, and most importantly my swimming shorts. I had three pairs so I just took two. I packed my DS and my games for the ride, to prevent myself from getting bored. I put my Mp3 in there too and made sure it was fully charged. During the beginning of the ride I like to listen to music, it calms me down a bit. Once I am comfortable I take out the games and start playin'. Once I was sure I had everything it was time to exhaust myself like never before.

At first it sounds pretty stupid, to get myself exhausted for no reason, what am I, mad? I stay up all night playing my Xbox and watching videos on YouTube because after all I am going to Mexico, and there is no internet there. I tried to enjoy the commodities I had here so that I wouldn’t miss them as much. I played until my eye lids could not take no more and I could feel the heart beat pulsing inside my head. It was a little too much; it ended up getting me more tired than I should have been.

Even my dad told me “You better sleep early 'cause we're leaving at 3.”

“Okay yea sure I’ll sleep early dad don't worry,” I answered without meaning it. What happened later? When it was time to sleep because I was too tired, I knew that I was going to have problems waking up. “Oh well” I said to myself, there was nothing I could do then.

I was deep in some other world I don’t even know or remember when I heard a voice.

It told me, “Juan Wake up! Juan Wake up!”

My immediate response was, “leave me alone!”

“Come on you gotta wake up!” the voice repeated.
I don’t know what I was thinking back then but I sure was still sleeping. This voice was loud and strong, and it hurt my eardrums. Sooner than I could realize it I woke up. It had been my dad trying to wake me up, with his close-to-be-scream voice. My ears are too weak to withstand his voice and ignore it. I was in a bad mood, someone just woke me up from my sleep, how dare he? Yea it was my dad so I couldn’t do anything about it. I went directly to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I was kinda dead before that so the water in my face helped a lot. I had to hurry up and change into something comfortable to be in the car with. I picked out some cloth and put it on. I ran to the kitchen where my dad had placed the luggage and the large coolers. He loves taking drinks and food for the ride as well as some to give to my Grandparents for them to keep. I am the only other man in the house so I had to the manly work. I grabbed a couple of bags and went outside. I put them in the back of the car neatly so that things would fit better. I finished my job fast and got inside in the back seats. I sat in the seat on the right, just because it's kinda my side. Over time I had claimed rightful ownership of the seat and it now belongs to me. I realized, as I was sitting in the car by myself, that my parents and sister were still inside getting some other things. “Well” I said. “Let them be, and let me be” and went back to sleep.

Something in my mind forced me to open my eyes. That was when I woke up. It felt as if I had been kidnapped because I looked straight out the window and I did not recognize anything in my surrounding. It took me half a second to realize what I was doing there, so it wasn’t noticeable that I got scared. The goose bumps went away and stretched a little because I was crumbled up in my seat.

I turned to my parents and asked, “Where are we?”

“We're not there yet, soon we will be,” my mom answered.

“How long till we get there?” I insisted.

She said, “Couple of hours. Don’t worry about it”

In my head I just said “okay” and continued on to the next thing that popped up. I turned around and I realized my sister was still sleeping in the seat next to me. My mom and dad were in the two front seats with my dad on the wheel. I realized it was alright and tried to go back to sleep, the problem was I could not any more. I knew I was not going to be able to sleep anymore because the sun came up and light hit my face. I felt very weird in the position I was in and moved around to get in a better one. I realized my butt was on something so I reached under for whatever was there. It was my Mp3, I had used it before I went back to sleep, but never really noticed I did until then. I put the headphones back in my ears and turned it on. There was nothing in specific that I wanted to listen to so I just picked whatever came first. I lay my head on the window and looked outside. The clouds deforming above in the sky with their bright colors and shapes changed the mood, at least for me. The empty land with nothing but dead looking trees and dirt also helped with that weird feeling. It was a depressing scene, so I changed the song that matched that emotion. My heart tells me to do things to comfort it with things like such. Just like if everything was a movie, the song that plays in the background, always fits the scene. I am different that way, but with every beat that plays throughout the song, I create such an image in my mind that goes beyond anything someone could bring back in to real life. With music, I could imagine things that will never be; the good thing is that dreaming never hurts.

The music I was listening to was a connection between my heart and my brain. Sometimes my brain tells me to do one thing and sometimes my heart tells me to do another, but when they work together it feels much, much better. I imagined so many things and made clear of many others. I listened to the sound of beauty exiting my earphones. My leg tapped as the music became part of me. I was living with the music. That same feeling only comes a few times in life, like when I helped someone or I exceeded on something. That doesn’t happen a lot, so music is my way out. Soon my fingers start to move with every beat and sound of the song. My heart pulses at the same speed of the song, keeping a metronome for the waves that fulfilled the empty spaces in my heart, for that time at least. I closed my eyes to pay attention only to the music in my ears. I could concentrate on every little sound that was inside me. I opened my eyes, only to realize that nothing had changed much. All of that which I had been imagining had passed over a second when I was living it for minutes. It didn’t last for very long, sadly. My skin got goose bumps as I felt a cold rush speed through my head and neck. I lay my head on the side of my door, looking straight out side. Everything was the same. All I could see was the rough soil with rocks and cacti and dead weeds. Even then when the landscape wasn’t the best, I was somehow fulfilled by it. I think it was all because of the sky, the only thing that remained as beautiful as it always is. There were barely any clouds, but those that were there made a great difference. The music I was listening to fit the moment so well, it was creating an enormous image in my mind that distracted me from everything that happened. I am sure my parents might have talked to me a couple of times, but I did not hear them. I became a prisoner of the beauty that surrounded me. Nothing else mattered. It was weird how a boring car ride turned into something much more interesting.

I was not aware that we had arrived at my grandparents’ house until the car had stopped. It was a little surprising when I felt the vehicle finally come to a stop after hours of being on the road. I had looked around and saw my grandpa sitting on a chair in front of the house. That moment I realized we had to get out and start taking the entire luggage out. At first thought, it seemed so hard to get up from my seat that I temporarily closed my eyes to see if there was any chance of returning to a deep sleep. It was an absurd fight so I stretched to get some energy and get out of the car. Once outside, I gave a last stretch this one being so much more relieving. Without my dad telling me to bring down the stuff from the car I started grabbing the luggage. I grabbed two bags, one in each hand, both feeling heavier than usual for some reason. I walked towards the front gate, I put down one bag and opened it. My grandpa had stood up and was walking towards me as I had opened the gate. I greeted him and gave him a hug still holding the bags in my hands. I went inside and placed the bags down next to the closest room to the door. I assumed it was going to be the room we were going to sleep in, since that was the room we had slept in all the times before when we had gone over. My grandma was in the kitchen so I went there to say hi to her too and give her a hug. After I was done greeting everyone, I sat down on the couches, just…Waiting.

The time came late in the afternoon and my parent decided to visit my aunt from my mom's side. Since I was born, she always wanted to be called Pia. I don’t know what it means but I think it stands for another way to say Tia, Spanish for aunt. Pia was one of the people I grew up with since I was little. She was there for me like a second mother. That is what I recognized her as when I was able to think maturely enough and thankfully appreciate all she did for me. She is a fighter and an amazing person, one who deserves everything in the world but does not receive it. Life has punched her many times, but she never stopped her fight.

My mom used to say, “She keeps working because that is the only thing she thinks she can do. If she didn’t work anymore she would be poor.”

“Well isn’t she tired of working though?”, I asked.

She responded, “She's more tired of life.”
When I was told that we were going to go visit her I was really excited. I wanted her to see how much I had grown, how my voice had changed and how much I missed her, since I hadn't seen her in years.

On the way to Pia's house, all the streets looked desolate, broken down and poor. Everything was sad and lonely. When we reached her neighborhood, things had not changed as I saw it. The streets were still dirt. Everything was crowded, dogs were wandering the streets dirty and weak and small houses inhabited the area. Houses where a kid could live by himself, with no room to do anything but sleep. Just by seeing everything I was getting depressed. I had been there before, but I never saw anything with the same eyes as I did there. We finally got there, not long after. Things were different in her house. There were big piles of sand or cement piled up in what extremely small space was in the front yard. Bricks were being stacked up next to the microscopic house. I was surprised. My mom got out first and went to knock on the door. She climbed over the piles of cement that were in the way. Pia came out of her house and in that instant, life froze for me. Her face recorded for history. She looked the same, but his time she had more wrinkles and some strands of gray hair. She wasn't that old, but she looked 20 years older than she was. She had worked the soul out of her and never stopped, since she was on her own because her husband, my uncle, had died a long time ago, even before I was born. Life came back and I hurried to greet her. I gave her a big hug, bigger than was intended. My nose quickly picked up the scent of her smell and I felt more comfortable, I knew that smell of perfume she used, it always smelled the same.

She exclaimed, ”look at how much you have grown you're so tall!”

I replied, “Well it's because I haven’t seen you in years Pia!”
It made me feel good in the inside so I answered with a smile. She told us to go in, and so we did. My mom, sister and I went in with my dad following last. I looked around and everything was the same. Same arrangement of furniture, same one room house, everything was crowded and did not leave room to move around. I had direct control over my emotions until she explained what had been going around in her life.

She had been fighting for a better life. She was basically alone and did not want to spend her life in a chocking hole. Over the last months, she had been buying cement and bricks with small savings that were left spare from every paycheck. She worked every day but was not paid well enough for her to be buying those materials, since they were really expensive in Mexico. As she told us, everyday after work, she would come home and start putting up some bricks on her own and place cement over them. That was when it hit me. I felt a spear stab my chest in a quarter of a second after she finished her sentence. My deepest emotions were making me want to cry, but I had to hold it because I didn’t want everyone to see me cry. I was old enough not to cry so I forced myself. It was like trying to ignore a bullet in the leg after it was fired. I managed to keep myself together, and not show any signs of depression. It was hell watching all of what she had gone through on her own since we last saw her. I was glad see her but my heart was suffering more from what I was seeing.

Dark came by and it was starting to be harder for me. My parents decided it was time to go back to my grandparent's for the day relieving my pain a little for a moment. She had told so many amazing stories of her life in the past few years, some sad and some exciting. With every word that she spoke I admired her to a new level for her bravery. Since we had to leave I said goodbye and gave her another big hug. My mom and sister also did the same, and wished her good luck for the future. We got in the car, and there I realized I actually didn’t want to leave, I wanted to stay and hear of her life. I asked God to help her and to give her more strength than she had to keep her for many years more, and so that she had a good life. We all got in the car and drove off waving good bye to her as she faded away in the distance. It was dark, no one could see me. I let it all out. In silence.

I was sitting in the back seat with my sister, but in the end I felt so alone. After what I had seen I had forgotten about everything else that mattered and my aunt was the only important thought in my mind. I realized how much I had and how selfish I was to be asking for more when I wanted things. I realized that I had many things in my life that I should be thankful for, that others like her don’t have. I always complained about the things I had, and wished for many that I did not.

“Wake up. It's time for you to appreciate what you have Juan,” God told me.

“But why have you made me learn in such a harsh way God?” I replied. “I could have learned with you telling me in a nicer way.”

He answered, “This is not the only time I have tried to get you to understand.”
I froze in place, blurring the things that surrounded me and focused right on his words. God is wise and in that moment I knew he was telling me to change. I remembered all the times that I had been selfish and unappreciative. All those times my mom told me to stop complaining about what we ate each day, were all part of my assignment. I couldn’t believe that such ignorant little things like such would matter so much. That event changed my life forever.

The beach was good. I got to swim and got sunburned. Nothing else happened, or nothing important at least. Too bad the beach wasn’t what I was going to remember from that trip as I had thought. It was destined to be that way because of God's work. That's why I believe in God.





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