The Last Lecture

February 11th 2012
Published: February 11th 2012
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Hello Again!

Now that I am back in Cádiz you would think I would have more time to write blogs, but somehow I fill up my days!

Traveling through Germany and London was such a great experience, and I couldn’t be happier that I got the opportunity to go, but I am pretty glad to be back here in Cádiz. It’s nice to be back to “home” or at least to not be living out of my suitcase anymore.

Even though I was pretty tired, I didn’t take the quick route back to Spain. I opted for the train. Not just the train, but the Chunnel. That’s right I went under the English Channel! How was it? Well, we went through a lot of tunnels actually, and I’m not 100 percent sure which of them was the actual Chunnel, but I think the longest tunnel was about 30 minutes. It was great! Very dark. But hey, it’s one of those things were you do it just so you can say that you did! 😊

The Eurostar train through the Chunnel goes from London to Paris and so I thought, “Well maybe I could take the train from
My First Regatta!My First Regatta!My First Regatta!

Kate and I "acting natural." Photo courtesy of one Alex Sparks.
Paris back to Spain to see more of the countryside!” It was a nice thought, but the trains from Paris to Madrid are all night trains. Eh, I don’t really like flying that much anyway. I took the train which left around 7pm from Paris to Madrid, but my Chunnel train got in around noon. Seven hours in Paris; what should I do? Well call my favorite Parisian of course! Evan met me at the train station and we dropped my bags off at his dorm. “Do you need help with your bag?”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s really heavy.”

“That’s ok. I’m a mule.”

Then we went and got lunch at a Chinese restaurant near his dorm; very appropriate since it was the actual Chinese New Year that day! After lunch I really didn’t feel like wandering around Paris, I was tired, it was cold, and nap was calling my name. I slept all the way up until it was time to go to the train station, which was good because trains are sort of uncomfortable to sleep on. Evan helped me get to the Metro and then I headed off to the train.

I ended up being seated next to a man from Scotland who was headed to Málaga. He was CEO of company that produced specialized plastics and retired five years ago at the age of 60. He doesn’t speak Spanish and so we agreed to share a cab when we had to switch train stations in Madrid; I only had to pay half the normal cab fare, and he had a Spanish translator, win-win!

The rest of the train ride I spent reading a book my friend Allison suggested, well actually I spent the first three and a half hours of the train ride reading it, it’s not terribly long. It’s called “The Last Lecture.” It’s about a professor from Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and gives a last lecture to the students there. It turns out the whole thing is a way for him to leave a message to his young children. I would say they are more life lessons obviously directed more towards younger folk, but it’s a good read for anyone. I marked the book up and underlined things. His focus was on fulfilling your childhood dreams, so it gets you thinking about what yours were.

What my childhood dreams were? Well, I can’t really remember. I think I wanted to be a vet when I was little. There was a period in the 4th grade after my first visit to Washington D.C. that I wanted to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, then I think I wanted to be an Ob/Gyn from about 7th to 10th grade, I wanted to be an astronomer and work on the Hubble Space telescope team towards the end of high school, then when I actually had to choose a college and you realize not every college has every major under the sun I realized I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be.

For a while I thought maybe Stanford and studying astrophysics (What was I thinking right?) and continuing with my whole astronomer idea. That one is actually sort of a nice story. Well, I think it is, it happened when I was fairly young and it may have actually been a dream I had, but I’m pretty sure it was real. Doesn’t really matter though, it’s the effect that counts, right? Anyways, for a family gift we got a telescope. We took it outside one night and were looking at celestial things and I asked my Dad to find a star. Well, stars are pretty small in the sky, really, and sort of hard to find with just a typical telescope. It took him a while but my Dad actually found that star and I’ll never forget what it looked like; it’s one of those images that gets etched into your memory. After that I bought a star map and a few star charts and was obsessed with the stars. Nights when I would get home from school after dark I would stand outside my car and stare up for a while, not usually as long in the winter months, but still.

The reason I bring this up is because it sort of how I see this representation of myself before college. Then I thought, “Why wouldn’t Stanford take me? I’m a total catch, right? And the guys at NASA and Hubble Space telescope will probably hire me right out of college.” Well, junior year physics, and the ACT, and the SAT II physics section sort of got me to see that maybe you should like physics before you enter
Tasting REAL Chocolate!Tasting REAL Chocolate!Tasting REAL Chocolate!

Right in the middle of a Cocoa plantation in the forest in Costa Rica!
down a path that is just physics. I realized that there is a difference between liking the idea of a major or a job and liking the actual major or job. I still like looking at the stars and when I do I always sort of remember that time where I just knew I could do anything with my life, but also what I learned…it’s about baby steps, Devin, baby steps. Have those far off, reach for the stars kind of goals, they are important, but what is equally as important are those that are nearby. Sometimes reaching one gets you to see something you didn’t even think of before.

When I was about 10 we took a trip to Germany, and as you have figured from the past few blogs or so, I thought it was pretty great. So great in fact I vowed to come back, and that I did, but it was 10 years of baby steps (and maybe a few adult sized steps) that got me there.

When I started taking higher level Spanish classes I realized that, like all the exchange students we had had, I could go abroad too. So, I would
Sarah and I in the Canopy!Sarah and I in the Canopy!Sarah and I in the Canopy!

A great friend I made in my first study abroad in Costa Rica!
say there is where the dreams/goals really began. Step 1: Pick an out-of-state college that is more than one state away and preferably in a warmer climate and go there. Step 2: Once you’ve got that figured out, study abroad for a whole year. Step 3: Deal with all the stuff that comes in between Step 1 and Step 2. Spanish just happened to be there waiting and I just happened to like it. I’m not saying there weren’t bumps along the way. “Devin, I just don’t see the justification in studying abroad for a whole year when you just have a minor.” No problem. A few days later I had gone to my Spanish advisor, signed the request for a double major form and a Spanish major I was. Step 3 accomplished. 😊 It was a big step going to Clemson (probably teenage sized), and a bigger one going to Costa Rica and now Spain (those can be adult sized). Before those I had a track record of saying I really wanted to do something and then just never really doing it, or doing it and getting tired of it and quitting.

Back home I still have a list of dreams. It’s a corkboard about half full of index cards with different goals on them. Before I left for Spain I hadn’t actually crossed off any. They’ve been collecting over about the last 2 years. Some are fun: Learn to surf, touch and elephant ( I actually wrote that one and then a few months later I guess I wrote it again, I must really want to do it), see Mt. Everest and hike to base camp…but only to base camp, and go to Ireland for St. Patrick’s day. Others are more sentimental and serious: See Heather get married, pick a job because you love it, not just because it pays well, be able to be completely independent, and able to pay for my kids’ college educations like my parents did. I know I won’t be able to accomplish most of these until I’m a bit older, some I actually have done and some are just on the horizon.

The point is, completing multiple goals started with me when I completed one. You get one done and you think “well, if I did that, maybe I can do this.” Baby steps. For me it all kind of started with choosing to go away for college and then actually doing it. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. Don’t ask, I tell people different things all the time. I also don’t exactly know how I am going to mesh Spanish and engineering. It’ll work itself out. Somewhere down the line is a step I don’t even see that puts this whole Spanish and engineering major thing together. I really just glance at those steps every now and again. As my Mom likes to say to me, “You’re doing a life’s worth of living a year, Devin.” Guess I better pay attention then. 😊

I love and miss all of you!

Love always,

Devin 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


12th February 2012

Iris mini van
I remember when little Devin colored my "iris-colored minivan" and said she wanted one just like it! Ha!
13th February 2012

Haha! A dream is a dream no matter how soccer-mom like! haha!
15th February 2012

Ultimate goal
My ultimate goal: succesfully have my chin touch the boot of Chuck Norris. And survive. It's a lofty one, I know.

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