I packed for Kenya with 2 suitcases, both blue.
I never really got the concept of ‘having baggage’ the way these past few months have shown me. It’s when you take away of all the things that make you ‘comfortable enough’ that you realize what is left is you.
My story found it’s way into my suitcase, I think it was the giant blue one that was close to being overweight. My story that I’ve been telling is “I am alone.” I’ve been telling this story ever sense I was a scrappy kid with grass-stains and side pony tails. I told it then as declaration to my place in the order of things, and these days when I tell it, I show it. I’ll tell you that I’m not alone, but if you look at me, I’ll look down. I’ll dream up a big project, and I’ll desert it somewhere in the middle. I’ll ask you to please come closer, and when you do, I’ll ask you to leave.
I’ll tell you grand tales of how I overcame all that was. I will declare loudly that ‘I am not what happened, I am what I choose to become.’ I will hesitate in delivering any news that is not good, I will smile broadly, I will laugh loudly, and will be the person in the room who can talk to anyone…and I do. I love connection. Genuinely. But on my terms…and with an exit door in close view.
I can teach one hell of a yoga class, because I can give fully in 75 minutes, I can give it my all and mean it. I can have a cup of coffee with you, but if you want a second cup, I cant, sorry “my-gramma-is-coming-over-I-gotta-wash-my-hair-walk-my-dog-wake-up-early.” I will go home and I will regret not knowing what might have happened over that second cup, or if I invited you to rest your head on the pillow next to mine. Hearing you breathe next to me is too loud for my story of ‘I am alone.’ to be heard, and I just dont know what to do about that.
A story will follow you 8000 miles away. No matter what you put around it. No matter how many people you assemble around you as though casting in a play…family, friends, neighbors…if you don’t let people in they will always wonder, ‘where are you?’
Where were you? We missed you. We wish you were here….
Where I am is a place that’s not comfortable enough for me to hide from my story. Where I am is finally getting REAL about where this story stops me. It’s in the brilliance and generosity of my teachers and mentors here that I must finally be honest, to get that not saying and admitting certain things carries the same energetic consequence of telling a lie. About how life does not ask of you to be at your best in 75 minute-increments, but it begs of you, please, be of your best in this lifetime. In this one ‘wild and precious life…’
It’s the richness of Kenya, the noise and celebration that is found in this beautiful culture that indulges in dancing, and movement, of community, and families that are brothers and sisters in both blood and choosing. And you brush shoulders with people everywhere you go, while walking or in transit. And you visit your friends in their homes where 2-people sleep in one twin bed. Where 2-people smile and mean it. And you are at once and in equal measure confronted with how ‘I could never do that.’ with the wonder of ‘I wish that was me.’ And you become right in your judgement. Collecting facts about why your life works just fine the way it is.
I’ve been on a treasure hunt of collecting facts and proof here in Kenya to make things ‘fit’ so I can continue to be right. Standing behind the cowardly statements that are delivered over sips of beers and satisfying nods from your friends around you, ‘you know,’ you’ll say, ‘it just is what it is.’
And then you meet the people in your life who call bullshit. Who refuse to let you play small. Who will look at you across a table and say ‘what are you not saying’ and not budge until you start talking. Thank goodness for the people in my life, especially the past 3-years, those beautiful beings who simply will not let me get away with it anymore.
The gratitude I have for being able to live this exact moment in my life in Kenya is not one I’m sure I could ever repay. But dammit, I’m sure going to try. I’ve been in major reflection/transformation mode since landing here, but now I want to offer that all forward. It’s time to contribute deeply.
I didn’t realize how loud my story was still, until it was matched equally with the noise of being uncomfortable and not knowing anything. Not knowing what the hell I’m doing, not knowing the language, not knowing how to get from point A to point B, not knowing how there could be so much difference in what a home is, not knowing how strong my judgements were. Are.
But I’m working on it.
It was in the silence of this absolutely beautiful class I went to last Friday taught by 2 members of the AYP staff for a group of 11 deaf students, that I heard in such a beautiful beautiful way, a knowing I am starting to believe. Like whole-body, whole-spirit believe. Just look around…your story, whatever it is, can be defeated if you just look around and see.
Not one word was spoken in this class. Just what felt like an initial heart-breaking, but just a few breathes further, a heart-opening expression of not one word spoken…just movement. Just mantra. ‘you are not alone.’ And I could not. stop. smiling.
This is one of many beautiful moments from just last week alone I will write more about this week.
I thank god for the people around me who can see in me, what I couldn’t see myself. The cost of me living in the past.
My family is here. I found them. My family is in Rochester. I feel them. My family is where ever I go next. I choose them.
What is your story? Can you give it up? Can you ask for help? Can you dance where it’s light, but can you see where it’s dark? Just on the other side of your story is a big, fresh, breathe. I promise you. Get there.
You are not alone.