I have been feeling blessed lately. I have been sitting and steeping in deep gratitude during a week in which I have worked at least two 12h and one 15 h day and in which my Friday night was spent mostly flying solo (this marks my second Friday night going salsa dancing on my own!)
There’s no getting around it: I will always want to be WITH people rather than by myself. I will never love driving. I will never stop feeling a deep persistent pull to be somewhere else, a pull to the desert, to a place which doesn’t exist because it is a conglomeration of the best aspects of the many places I have seen and lived. I will always be hurting and angry at the seemingly endless supply of stupid and evil in this world. Today a guest at our staff meeting shared that 1 million people are already on the coast of Libya waiting to board a boat for Europe, despite the recent deaths; I had to go to the bathroom to keep from breaking down in desperate tears in front of a dozen organizer-colleagues at the sheer scope of pain structural injustice and violence have brought. (Why are bathrooms ever a refuge for our grieving?) Perhaps this grief, these pulls, this identity of mine is soon to pull me away from this place.
But I have been feeling blessed lately, and I want to appreciate and name this deep gratitude I have been smiling with for the past couple of weeks before blowing right through it. There are always a myriad of ways to present oneself, to frame one’s life. On the one hand I’m working really hard on issues I have made no secret are not my heart’s calling, I’m recently broken up, and I’m spending far too much time in DC-area traffic. Boo-hoo. On the other hand I have the opportunity to get to know a truly rich and diverse group of people everyday and plan with them how to act on their values and desires for making their community better– and I get paid for it! I get to live in a sunny, beautiful house with some really wonderful people. I am connected to a network of family and friends that I not only love but know love me deeply. I have both the physical and mental wherewithal to train for a half-marathon and have been getting to run in forests, near rivers, and all over this beautiful area just for fun!
Yesterday I attended a clergy meeting in which a Baptist preacher gave a five-minute talk about why the time to organize was NOW because now is the only time in which we have the power to do anything. He was right, but it also got me thinking about not just “now” but “here”. “Here” is not uniquely real in the same way “now” is because physical travel is possible in way time travel (for now!) is not. However, it is still true that I only really have the power to do anything “here” in the same way that I only have power to do something “now”. I have spent so much of the past year and a half partially resenting being where I am, and even now I know that I am plotting my escape from this overly-expensive, wonky, self-inflated city and area. Yet when I remember living in Medellin, in Harrisonburg, in Jerusalem, and just about every place before that with perhaps only the exception of Paris as a young child, I have always lived with the certainty that where I currently was (“here”) was not where I belonged, not where I would settle, not where I should get overly comfortable. And of course now when I think where I would like to “end up” going back to any of those places “for good” feels as unlikely as staying here, and almost as daunting as picking an entirely new place.
I haven’t found a solution to this, in fact sometimes dwelling on this perennial lack of “home” too long brings me to tears (oh no! Don’t dwell! Don’t dwell!) but perhaps owning that “here”, no matter where “here” is, is always a valid place is a good start. Perhaps naming the times when I feel blessed, alive, grateful and fulfilled can be a reminder that being loved and feeling a sense of purpose in this world is at least equally if not more of a gift than feeling a total sense of belonging.
Anyways, as Rumi so aptly puts it: “My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”
In the meantime I am blessed, and I am grateful. I pray you are as well.