Today, I am flying to India.
This is as exciting as it is terrifying. Because places have a way of leaving marks and traces on you. Like stencils deep into your skin. Into your soul. Places have forces. Heartbeats. Pulses.
I have spent the last few months preparing for this trip. I have considered every possible option of existence I could occupy in this foreign land. The effort was exhausting and it wrote on my heart. Things I wish I could erase. And things I want to keep forever.
She said to me, “Go as you. Go as Sunshine.”
She, this friend who has all of me and loves all of me, she said, “go as Sunshine.”
It sounded simple. Yet it was radical. For to be myself, to be Sunshine is precisely what I have been told would get me into trouble in places like India. Because being Sunshine means being like that is my sole heartbeat. It means looking with deep eyes into the well and trying to pull things out…trying to pull people out. It means breaking down again and again and again if my heart cannot contain it. It means feeling with a rawness that burns.
See, they say India functions according to its own rules. Order in the chaos; things will be bad. Things will be good. There will be sights. There will be smells. There will be poverty. There will be wealth. And no one, NO ONE can do anything about it. This is the story etched in the rocks for this giant country.
I don’t know friends.
Why do we go into these developing countries? To save them? To feel better about ourselves and our lot in life? To help? To feel like we are doing something? Or maybe it is all of the above…
I am ashamed of myself. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. All of us. For failing in our thoughts and attitudes towards these “foreign looking, third world beggarly countries.” We should be sorry for our assumptions about their lives and our supposed expertise on them. We should do right by them.
It starts here:
“When going into another country to do development work or even visit, we should never storm in and claim supremacy, thinking that we are here to change things, to make things ‘more developed’. First things first, it is not to change. It is to learn, share and give. And the first step is to delete all preconceived notions and start listening. Listen.”
So I’m going to India to listen. I know nothing about India. No, not really. Yet the knowing I will experience when I stand on her land, walk some of her paths and feel her feelings will be greater than all the knowledge in the guidebooks combined. Because it will be real in my being.
I don’t know friends. Maybe we are supposed to save one another. And God saves us all. I have no clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answers. I only have my heart and that is what I will use. I cannot do the work for you. Or for anyone else. I can only be Sunshine. That is the only thing India will get from me. That is the only thing you will get from me.
It is my everything.