It has been difficult being home. 23 feels weird – and I am probably dealing with a bit of reverse culture shock, but I am resistant to the ugliness of that term. It should rather be called morning. There is more subtly in it than shock. At 23 I feel like I have woken up to a battered world majority where an isolated group of abusers continue to deify and isolate themselves in money. Often, I feel stuck in a sea of problems with their roots on elevated and unreachable land.
At 23 I am sulky and disgruntled and walking with Mom around Gas Works Park waiting to pick up Jess Spear election fliers to pass around North Seattle neighborhoods. Mom is concerned, because she is a Mom and her daughter looks spark-less. She says she just wants to help. I know that. I just want to help too, but I feel lost. I’m 23 and a lot of the time I feel lost. We run into a ‘stranger’, running the stairs at Gasworks who says ‘you know you love a place when you love it in idleness’. He is right idleness is a test of personal stability. Its easy to avoid yourself in the hustle. In this 23 year old idleness my mind wanders into the great unknown that is my future and feels small in a society that reacts to grandeur.
But then, last night at Town Hall I listened to an 8 person panel from a continent 1.11 billion: Africa. I immediately felt warmer hearing a series of familiar accents: thick Afrikaans, Nigerian, Ugandan, Zimbabwean. They were food sovereignty leaders, who for the first time in my life, publicly echoed my deep distrust of Bill Gates. From the beginning voices of the food sovereignty summit, and the mention of Gate’s name in disrespect, I felt bigger. It was the feeling of solidarity, grandeur by the connection of one to many.
I wonder if Gate’s feels that too, that extremely vulnerable unconditional love that reminds you why you’re living. The love that permeates a room of integrity, a love that tears away the strangeness of strangers, and reminds you that you are never alone. At 23, swimming in a sea of soot from a diseased mainland and the salt of solidarity I make a daily decision to continue on because of the people around me, our togetherness. Life is breathed into me by the spirit of us and our commitment to each other.
Mom wrote a blog post this week about getting aquatinted with yourself and all your little pieces, internal solidarity. I read it and felt a bit more whole. At 23 I still know myself. I feel lost sometimes and uncomfortable with oneness in a society that often isolates through individualism but then I go to church and meet a 98 year old woman who is up and walking, and talking, and listening to a fellow church goer describe the growth process in kid’s rejection of their parents. At 98, she sits and listens with ears of another time, patiently engaging in a weekly community of faith and strength. I know I can trust myself to go to Church, Town Hall and various other public places and listen to others listen to others. It is in these lessons of quiet mouthes and open minds that remind me Bill Gates does not know the power of unconditional love.
I’m 23 and sometimes grumpy but I know that success and grandeur come in different forms, and that I am only as lost as I allow myself to define the boundaries of ‘found’.