Arriving at Wednesday of the last week of classes brings to mind…
The List of Things that Terrify Me:
1) I will separate from some wonderful people who live in far away cities and countries around the ENTIRE WORLD. Luckily, this means we can have less expensive and more comfortable globe trotting experiences later on, but unluckily this means that we are now counting the years until we will meet again, rather than the days.
2) No more drawing and outdoor life (more about this later on)
3) The dreaded sorting, packing, piling, selling, donating, gifting, and dumping of all of the things that have accumulated in our lovely room, which brings me to:
4) leaving our lovely east-facing room, a room that accentuates the morning light (when it is sunny) and is especially cozy.
5) Experiencing travel-induced worrying about when to get the train to the airport to the airport to the bus to the home.
6) What to expect coming back to the United States of America? I think what excites and terrifies me more than the question is that I have no expectations or predictions about how it will feel and what it will look like and how shocking it could be. My mind and heart are tabula rasa.
There are also things that thrill me:
1) Seeing in real, 3-D form many people I love and care about.
2) Choosing what food I eat.
3) A clean walk from the shower to my room without feeling like I want to wash my feet again.
4) The moment I get to kiss my ukulele hello.
The first band up at Vinterlyd last weekend was a Latin American band with great dance music. Unfortunately, lots of people didn’t feel comfortable dancing at the beginning of the party, and it was a great shame that the band didn’t appear again later in the night. They were followed by some DJs and a variety of other bands… until 4 in the morning! I stayed up until 3, which is a record for me here (I think my previous record was 12 or so, to give you an idea of my party spirit). In any case, it was fun to see the school all dressed up with icicles and snowflakes and icebergs and tin-foil, and to see everyone so lively. Sunday the cleaning began at 12, and with a communal effort, was finished by 2.
Tuesday, the drawing class showed our work for the school. It was fun to see all of the work side by side, and so sad to say goodbye to that class!!
The last outdoor class was a harrowing run/bike followed by freezing stream exploration, which concluded with each of us crawling through a drainage pipe. It was so much fun and the class bonded more than ever with our numb fingertips and toes!! After we took hot showers, we gathered for fireplace hygge – complete with candles, cookies, light chains, blankets, tea, cuddling, and of course, a puzzle.
The course was aptly named “winter is coming”, and the weather gods seemed in agreement when it snowed the day after our watery adventure!
Some reflections… (but don’t worry, there will be more)
I was looking through my journal and found this image:
In early November, Garba asked, “How to let go when we have all of these temptations?” He was asking how we can let go of the temptation of plentiful information enough to really listen – listen to others, and listen to ourselves. How can we hear another person when we are texting someone else? How can we know what we love to do when we are torn between all of the possibilities? How can we let go of the nostalgia of home to create a new one? How can we know truth from fiction in a world of manipulated media, and so much media? How can we pull ourselves away from clicking the news to participating in the news? I think the question is very similar to, how can I embrace?
On the next page I wrote, “What does it mean to embrace? Embrace means a hug. To hug yourself, to hug another, to hug the dirt of the earth’s crust and the worms inside.” Embrace is warm. It is the result of the process of a passive action, “let go”, becoming more active: “embrace”.
But then more questions…What am I most challenged to embrace? How is this part of my personal passage? My role in this community? And how can I do it?
Part of being in a new and different environment has been examining my culture through my identity, and vice versa. Because of this examination, I feel more connected with myself through time than ever before. And so part of my learning here has been embracing the connectedness of myself; the unity of my mind and body and heart and essence, the connection between little choices and big choices, the value of an intentional lifestyle, the thread of “me” throughout time. And this lead to trying to embrace the things I can learn from the younger me.
I found another piece of writing a few weeks after the picture:
“When I was born, I was very small. I had a lot of needs, but I received a lot of love because I gave love all the time, even when I was sad. I was fascinated by the exploration of anything, like my mom’s chin and the tiny nubs of fabric in the rug. I remember laying on the rug and the extra smell it got when the sun came. I know a lot of objects, like the staircase and the kitchen doorway, very well, because I examined them slowly and carefully before I thought about time.
When I was still very small I knew I would do great things for all of the people in the world, who I loved very much. I knew it because it seemed easy. I thought all I had to do was show that I love them somehow, because that’s what made the world so beautiful to me. I wish I had never learned the fear that complicated this simple and beautiful sight of the very small me.”
The good news was that I found something I have been challenged to embrace. It seems natural that this is part of my personal passage, because it is so closely linked to my identity. And it plays a part in my role in the community because it is about how and why I choose to to be a positive contributor. But how to make the move?
There are probably infinite ways to approach embracing things…(our outdoor teacher told us to sing a Winnie-the-Pooh song while we waded through the freezing swamp)…But somehow, studying in Denmark has allowed me to begin the challenge of embracing a vision. I have relearned the joy and practice of taking time to examine what and who are around me. I feel a sense of hope and peace about my role in the future of my community.
I have relearned the power of “embrace” in the most literal sense: a hug, or 10 minutes of an undistracted conversation – which seems to always turn into a much longer one. I have learned that letting go of all the temptations has been nearly impossible for me. I have learned that letting go of all the temptations can be more rewarding than chasing them.