Thanks to everyone who read my last post and especially those who wrote comments or emails. I don’t mean to say all labels are bad or that we should not ever use them; on the contrary, I think some are helpful and we all need various ways to try to fit our world/life/universe that is beyond understanding into something manageable for our finite, human brains to make use of.
I just want to be careful with my words.
Someone a few days ago gave me a label that I love and will cling to:
You are truly a citizen of the world.
It’s been a great few weeks in France; the last field service in Madagascar was exceptionally hard and I spent quite a lot of time sleeping, reading, feeding my soul and heart and mind and body with every morsel of beauty I could; lots of hikes, lots of solitude, lots of beauty, of wine, of cheese, and of dear friends.
I celebrated the 4th of July independence day with an Australian and an English friend in France eating hamburgers on the grill and celebrating freedom, friendship, and the fact that even though we threw all their tea in the harbor we could still be friends. I love that. Yes, I miss my family and wish I could have simultaneously been here and there at the same time, but I love that life has brought me to France to celebrate my American-hood with English and Australian friends over burgers. Never would I have ever dreamed it for my life, but here I am. Grateful and humbled.
That’s the joy of a global citizen.
There’s also sorrow.
Every day when I look at the news I am assaulted with gruesome details of another heinous attack. A truck in Nice. A knife in Japan. A gun in Florida. Bombs in Somalia, in Baghdad, in Germany. Just this morning a priest violently killed in France. Those victims? They are all my people. I don’t know every story and I wouldn’t dare claim I understand what their family feels or their friends feel or their brothers and sisters in faith or culture or race or nationality feel. But these are my people and I grieve.
What trumps fear, always? Love.
In the next few days I head back to the ship, travelling through Paris and Dubai… Because a few people recently have (with all the right intentions) suggested maybe I stay away from Paris I do want to put this truth out there to counteract the fear and offer a little perspective: The most dangerous thing I can do with my life right now is not go through Paris; it’s not even to move to Baghdad (although I won’t be doing that anytime soon). The most dangerous thing any of us do is get into a car. Worldwide deaths due to terrorism in 2015 are less than US-only national deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. And poisoning. And heart disease, cancer, infectious disease…. On and on. (all this info is online, try cdc.gov, or statista.com for starters).
I’m heading back to the ship and I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about that… last field service was extremely hard and while I think this year will be significantly better for many reasons there is still a little fear there. While hiking the other day I was reveling in the beauty of solitude in the woods, with the damp mulch silencing my footsteps and the birds singing loudly with the sun and blue sky peeking through the branches surrounding me as my heart was beating and my lungs filling with fresh mountain air… It was glorious. I felt alive, abundantly. This is heaven, I whispered… but I can’t do this in Benin. There are no mountains and no clean air and certainly no solitude… if this is how I feel alive, how can I survive in this next field service?
And then I remembered – I feel alive there, too. I love the African markets and the fabric and the fried dough balls and the noise and the beauty that is completely different than the beauty I experience here but it is still beautiful.
So I’m looking forward to going back, with better boundaries and priorities and with the end in mind; I really hope this means more laughing and less crying and more joy and love and life to the full. I think it does. Stay tuned to this space to find out, I guess!
The other problem with being a citizen of the world? As another friend recently put so eloquently:
The problem with travelling is that you want to live everywhere. And eat everything.
Yep. The struggle is real.