Who am I?
Who are you?
Who are we?
A dearest of my heart, a dear dear friend who knows all of my secrets (shhhhhh) told me today I seem so strong in these posts.
Am I this strong woman on the mountainside?
Am I the scared woman under the bed in Uganda?
I am all of that.
I am all of this.
I am all of me.
I am the woman you see at the store with a smile on her face and a longing in her heart.
I am the child with a dream to make it somewhere, somehow, some way.
I am the mother happily sacrificing it all for her children.
I am the artist in search of expression.
I am the person reaching out my hand to lift you up.
I am me.
I am all of me.
I am happyI am sadI am contentI am restless.
I am so very alive…
And searching and living and loving and laughing and crying and yes yes yes, hide me under the bed, perch me on a mountain, let me live it all. I am no longer afraid of much these days because I am so busy embracing wonder.
How lucky we are to be weak, to be strong. To need help, and then to give it.
Be all of you.
” But the time came when I understood that I could no longer deceive myself, that I am alive, and cannot be blamed because God made me so, that I want to love and to live.”
–Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
As spring time approaches and the world around us wakes up, I am starting a new ritual with my children. A few times a day we have to stop and pay attention to our senses.
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you feel?
What do you smell?
At dinner we take a moment to close our eyes and just focus on what we taste.
In this crazy world of too much information and so much to do and so many things coming at them, getting ready to come at them, I want to give them a foundation of their sense. A place to come to where they inhabit their body fully.
I love meditation and focusing on thoughts, and then trying to settle into that lovely space between them.
I love focusing on breath and how a body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
But we are more than our breaths, and more than our thoughts, and more than that space. We are our senses as well.
I want to teach my children to possess theirs fully, to capture them, explore them, move through the world with them.
What did that sunset over the Maasai Mara in Kenya really look like?
How did that fresh pineapple floating down the river in Central America really taste?
And then to teach them how to play with them…
How does that kind of silence make you feel?
What do you smell when you taste something that rich?
What do you see when you touch sadness?
What do you see when you see us? What do you see when you see someone? We make a narrative. Create a life. Fill in lines to a story we write, from our perspective, from our vantage point, clothing the person, the persons in our garments, to fit our own story of how life works.
Heard too many times in Rome: “Oh, is that your daughter? That your son? Are you one of those women who couldn’t get pregnant so you adopted and then you had a miracle pregnancy?”
How can I answer? How can I erase those words now etched across my daughter’s scalp, words that say you were a second choice. You were the runner-up.
The surprise answer is NO. Actually she was a first choice, a first decision. She was our miracle. I watch people stammer and their tongues lag because my story does not fit in the hole they wanted to put me in. My narrative is not their own.
Now back in Uganda my daughter has to hear, “Oh thank you for looking after her!” She watches as her mother is martyred. Like I am a savior. What I want to say, what I want to scream is, “I am just a mother who has failed a thousand times today. I am a mother who wakes up every day and starts anew and tries and tries again, and I get tired and frustrated and fail and win, and I am just a mother and she is just my child.” But I don’t need to tell my daughter this. She knows all too well how very human I am. But I still want to erase, protect, steel her from such assumptions.
We look through our own lenses. I am guilty of this as well. I wear my Americanism over my eyes like fog, but I like to think that on this bumper car experience of life, that each new culture I enter knocks away some of it, bangs a little out of me, so that maybe by the end of it–sooner if I am lucky–I will see people a little clearer, a little cleaner, and not assume anything, but discover everything.