Monday, May 5, 2008

a shadow of sorts

I long, as does ever human being, to be at home wherever I find myself
~Maya Angelou

Strangely enough even though Maya’s words truly resonate within me, I find myself longing for the home I recently left behind; and, this my friend, is the blessing and the curse of the roaming nomad. If one chooses to move around and truly be at home wherever one finds oneself, then they can then say that they have been blessed by the experience of having not one but many homes. The opportunity to explore and settle into a new environment is an unexplainably illuminating experience, and yet, with every new home experience comes the tragic yet ever looming necessity of saying goodbye. Goodbyes are never easy and if anyone says they are then they are minimizing the pain or avoiding the connections. As human beings we are not good at it; therefore, we avoid goodbyes like we avoid the plague. But if we chose to connect and engage with others, then leaving will most definitely be exquisitely painful.

As I sit here thinking about my most recent home, Liberia, I ache. I realize now that I did not consider it home simply because I lived there for an extended period of time; I considered it home because I felt so incredibly understood there. A few exceptional people who knew nothing about my past, nothing about my future, decided to take a risk and let me in. What’s unbelievable about that is that simply based on random circumstance, their pasts have been filled with heinous events and their futures are for all extensive purposes, unknown. I was moved by it all and miss each and every one of them.

It’s nice to come home to my nest in Denver and with every touching reconnection, every sunny day, every walk with Tuesday and every conversation with a curious acquaintance I am reminded why I feel so exquisitely loyal to the life I have created here. It wasn’t handed to me; I earned it by making meaningful interpersonal connections and memories with people so incredibly dear to me that it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. And yet, for every day, every month, every year that I decide to call another place home, I am left being experienced as a memory, an idea, a shadow of sorts by all the people I hold dear on domestic soil.

Being experienced as a shadow is very painful but truly being present and engaged when we reconnect is a healthy reminder that proximity is not always the answer. Being close doesn’t always solve the problems or make people feel more connected. Sometimes being close allows people to take things for granted; reunions are a chance to express and reminisce. So it seems there is a fine line between comfort and pain when it comes to interpersonal relationships. In fact it is a common belief that a relationship without pain is a relationship not worth having. To some pain implies growth. But how do we know when the growing pains stop and the injury pains begin? Am I an explorer or an abandoner if I close to walk that fine line? And, what happens if I make the wrong choice?

So the question remains can I continue to do this work (and move around as I do) and still hold on to those I hold dear? I fundamentally believe my work is a calling of sorts. For every second of my life I have felt lost, I have felt comfort in the fact that I have always known what I was meant to do professionally. But am I a whole person in any given world I chose to live in if I am chronically leaving it? My biggest fear is that I am in fact living my life as a shadow and am more frequently referenced as someone from the past rather than someone from the here and now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Insightful post Gwen. To belong everywhere and nowhere makes me feel deeply connected or lonely depending on the circumstance and where my thoughts are at a particular moment.

I owe you an e-mail.



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