Dunedin. If there is such a place as this, it is right here. Quiet in its bearing. It is easy to get wowed by the rolling green hills that sometimes seem to stretch on forever. And I want to be wowed. I want to be taken in by the secret charm that hides in this city’s street corners and in her strangers’ smiles. It is so easy to unfurl for this and forget to remember that on the other side of the rolling hills the pacific waves are crashing against solid rock. A duel of duels. Read More
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.
One night before & my room is in perfect order…except my suitcase which is too full & spilling all over the place. My packing is not a virtue. Plus more pressing matters occupy the spaces of my mind.
I must gather the corners of myself together, to tuck them in safely. Because I tend to drop pieces of myself in strange places; in plane seats & strangers’ eyes, in small little cafes with crystals hanging in the door & in back seats of yellow cabs. I leave my heart in unlikely places. This worries me as much as it excites me. Being a woman of the world is a grave responsibility. One that I sometimes want to shove right at the back of my clothes drawer & shut it before I can think twice.
I was born with two feet & one heart. Like most people. But my heart felt like something I needed to give away – like it was never mine to keep. & so it was always wandering in lush green places of the world & in dried out deserts & valleys in equal measures.
I would cradle the world atlas in my tiny arms as I went to bed, close to my heart, feeling its rhythm bring every line & contour on the pages vividly alive. I would close my eyes to dreams of countries unknown & unpronounce-able on my tongue. I knew the world was my oyster, my playground, my home. & the people of the world, my heritage. The truth of it moved in my blood.
I feel connected to the land. to its spirit. No matter where I go – my first love affair is with the land – place and all that encompasses its surface – its joys, sorrows, triumphs & woes. Sometimes the connection is hard & slow. & other times, it’s like magic. Hands clasping, fingers intertwined kind of thing.
Unlike the land, the people of the world are not always kind. They misunderstand my restless roots that naturally want to intertwine with theirs. They say, “how can this be?” I have had to do much explaining. & I tire of explaining – I just want to love you like there is no tomorrow. What is wrong with that?
It’s a job of mine to be homeless – to be at home everywhere and nowhere. & from this bizarre place teach what it means to be properly human. The world is not really my home. I traverse its surface following its heart beat & song from one end of its axis to the other. & this is why I am a woman of it – a woman of the world. Not because I live in it but because I understand it & carry its raw essence within me. Nothing special, just heavy & beautiful.
So as I get onto that plane tomorrow, I know my job never sleeps. There is no off duty for the likes of me. For love & connection is always needed. And I, woman of the world am on a mission to tie the ends of the world together in a big, beautiful bow; to offer it back to the only One who can make it whole again.