National Library of Belarus

A short year ago, a city of great feats stood before me as my feet lifted from the grey steps of the airplane’s rickety ladder, and landed on the concrete below me. This tentative step marked the first time in three years that I set foot on the land that I used to call home. Shortly after landing and completing the process of entering the airport, walking to the luggage claim, panicking at the luggage claim after five minutes of waiting, and rejoicing once all was in place, I was ready to rediscover the beauty of Minsk, Belarus, my birthplace and home until the age of three. Well, I was almost ready. After the drive to my grandmother’s house from the airport, all I could think about was sleep. Let’s just say jetlag did a number on me.

After some well-deserved rest, my grandmother and I finally decided to venture out of the comfort of our beds. That day, we circled the city, visiting nearly every landmark possible and entering nearly every store we saw.

Halfway into the month of June, we toured the National Library of Belarus, at the top of which, was a grandiose view that put the entire surrounding area on display: the wooded forests that blanketed the area, the tall apartment buildings bustling with energy, the residents of the city walking from place to place. Everything.

Time flew by and the last days of summer neared. A wave of panic overcame me as I realized that I may never have the opportunity to come back to Minsk in the future. In a fit of panic, I got dressed, grabbed my phone, and walked out of the apartment in a hurry to escape my own thoughts. I quickly found myself walking into a small forest nearby that hid away River Myshka, a river so small that only locals ever visit it. With every step I took, the trees protected me from the outside world and its harsh realities. I was alone and that was all I needed. Looking around, I came across a path that led me closer to the river. It was decorated with thousands of flowers, simply sitting there and without knowing it, perfecting an already beautiful path that’s mere purpose was to bring joy to those who walked it.

Soon enough, my heart slowed down and my palms unclenched. All was good. I quietly started to laugh to myself as I realized that nature had such a forceful ability to soothe me. With this, I found that ephemeral moments like these were the ones that eminently resided in my memory and always reminded me to just take the time to enjoy the world around me.

Looking around that day, I came to find that not only trees have the ability to teach lessons and soothe us, so does everything else in this world. I found that everything we do and see has an underlying message the world is trying to send us. Whether that is the view from the top of the national Belarusian library teaching me to never forget we are all part of a bigger picture than ourselves, or if it’s the flora that surrounds us revealing the simplicity of life, we can all draw lessons from the things and people that we see every day.

Sadly, none of us will ever be able to witness every wonder the world holds: not all of the lush green forests, not all of the beautiful seas. We will never have it all, but what we do have, we should learn to appreciate.

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