Our Daily Experiences Make Us Who We Are

Vincent Van Patten

Make every day a new experience you can be proud of


Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

Waiting, looking, hoping for the next experience, where I take to the road with not much more than my spirit and a camera, books and a pen, lost to find my way.

Every new day, we create our experience. Like chapters in our lives, our experiences make us more introspective or extrovert, because we’re out of our routine, thinking on our feet, and reacting to the world.

An experience means we’re in it, encountering a shift in our reality. It may correspond with new — a foreign place, an anticipated event, beginning a job, dealing with an abrupt personal conflict.

This type of experience removes us from what we’re comfortable with. It’s us out there deciding to turn left or right, react or keep the peace, step up, or sit down.

When we feel authentic, we make a memory, we feel like us, and we’ve acted in accordance with our heart. However, we won’t always feel that way. In some circumstances, we’ll feel we’ve let ourselves down, like we’ve been wearing a mask that can be suffocating.

The only thing to do is take it off.

There are no failures, only mishaps, setbacks, launchpads into new beginnings. All we must do is turn the page.

What lies between every new chapter — the pages, the routine, the motions that develop who we are — these are experiences in themselves. The lull between the set is just as beautiful as the crashing waves.

This year has seemed like a lull in the big picture, a break in the action to stop and reflect. We’ve had to stop and ask, wait, what is going on? We asked, and didn’t like the answer, so we’re changing it.

My year has been full of new chapters, fresh starts, early morning awakenings to reality, but it’s been full of lulls, too. They’re just as important to recalibrate and get in touch with ourselves, part of our overall experience of being human.

The writing, the journaling, the scribbling across the page from left to right until what was blank is full of words, full of days; we turn the page and step into the next chapter.

What we’ve done becomes a part of us.

The experience is what we’re going through, how we’re approaching the day, how we’re getting in touch with ourselves.

I’m working on a piece each day that I’m excited about, which gives each day purpose. But I also just try to let it go and go with the flow by surrendering to whatever brings me peace.

I’m twenty days into the November writing challenge. I have a list of ideas, the stories that inspire me, and I know I’ll get to them because they mean something to me.

But I also let ideas come to me that day, as I’m doing now. This honestly makes me more curious and excited to explore my thoughts and the world because then, I’m living my story.

It’s been beautiful — from Austin, Texas to coming back to Del Mar. I’m blessed to live this story, and I want to do it justice.

The setting sun is something every person experiences; it’s a gift to us all, an immediate change of perspective.

The day turns to night, and our thoughts change with the sun. Night can be a time of introspection — to look within or up at the sky, which, although is dark, now twinkles with a new kind of light.

Who we are, how we treat others and the planet, it all comes back to us. That’s something we learn, but I strive to make it the priority.

The spirit gives humans the strength to persevere, to keep getting up when life gets us down. I’ve been thinking about the spirit and the soul, what these words, these ideas, really mean to me.

The soul, in Greek, is the psyche. Plato wrote the Republic on the idea, comparing the just city to the just soul.

We’re the same people as we were through all of time, contemplating the essence of what makes us human.

There is no definite answer to what our spirit and soul truly are, besides what we believe. The soul is depth, character, what makes you, you and me, me.

The books and the poems I’ve been reading discuss the soul, the spirit, and how they connect with the heart, our lifeline, what we mustn’t ever take for granted.

“I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and I loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.”
— Walt Whitman

I never knew much about Walt Whitman until lately, but now he’s right here beside me on the cover of Leaves of Grass, smiling. Maybe I wasn’t ready to discover him until now.

I feel a bond with the poets of history — Whitman, Robert Frost, Henry David Thoreau; it brings me joy to write and read about the natural world.

I feel like it’s what matters. Nature grounds me and helps me see reality for what it is — a gift.

Writing about nature connects me with how others have cherished it before. Whitman has become influential to me; He wrote Leaves of Grass in 1855.

Many of my favorite books as of late have been from the 1800s — Walden, War and Peace, A Tale of Two Cities — so much monumental writing came from then.

Writing was a way to perceive the world, as it is now; it was one of the ways besides war, to change the world. But did it change things, or do we look back now and recognize the commentary that these writers make on their period?

Just because we don't see the change, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to fight for what’s right.

There’s so much to learn about the 1800s. That’s what makes reading these books fascinating; they give us a perspective of an age that’s relatable. There were people living life just like us, striving for liberty and change.

I’m rereading A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. When I think of Dickens, I think of A Christmas Carol — cold, industrial Britain. But there is something jolly and charming about it in the movies.

Dickens was a storyteller of all sorts; he portrayed what he saw in reality and intertwined his day with his imagination.

“Dickens dined at a different table every hour of his life,”

writes Ray Bradbury in Zen in the Art of Writing.

He invites the reader to sit down and have a chat with him, to get to know his characters through his words and the world in which he lived.

He wrote A Tale of Two Cities about the French Revolution as a commentary on his own time in the 1850s, when he and many others worried about revolution.

“When Dickens expressed to A.H. Layard his fear of revolution in Britain in 1855, he only echoed many dozens of commentators over the preceding six decades, who wondered why mob violence could not simply cross the English Channel and turn the streets of London into a bloodbath of class retribution,”

writes Gillen D’Arcy Wood in the intro to A Tale of Two Cities.

Across the Atlantic, both America and Britain’s identities were changing, and there were Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens to write about the shifting empires.

“My respiration and inspiration,
The beating of my heart,
The passing of blood and air through my lungs.
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves
And of the shore and of
Dark-colored sea rocks.”
— Walt Whitman

Our age is just as exciting. We’re alive, changing, adapting to our new circumstances.

This is our experience, as individuals and as a whole, just as that was theirs. Some things change, and others don’t, yet there’s meaning, there’s beauty, there’s a silver lining to it all.

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My name is Vincent Van Patten. This is my home, a place to share who I am and what lights my soul on fire. I’m a writer, media creator, and co-host of The Dare to Dream Podcast. Most importantly, I’m an inspired citizen of our ever-changing world. I strive to learn all that I can about how we’ve progressed to where we are today as individual cultures and as a planet. It’s my passion to fill every day with exploration and creativity no matter where I am, whether in California crafting my latest project or on my way to discover someplace new. By writing about my experiences, connecting with people and the earth, and remaining present, I always feel at home. I write to express my perspective of daily living, from the thoughts in my head to the relationships we share as human beings. I write about travel, culture, books, life, philosophy, spirituality, health, self-improvement, and history. I also write poetry and short stories  —  doing so soothes the soul. I believe we’re here to challenge ourselves by questioning all we think we know. When we do, we open our minds to a way of living we could never have imagined. This life is a journey with no finish line in sight. I hope to leave a positive impact with every step I take.

Del Mar, CA

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