It's hard to sum up what this trip has meant to me. I feel profoundly changed, and those changes are tough to process. It's going to take some time.
But now, I'm back in Canada, happily ensconced with my family and friends. My first few days were filled with exclamation points: "Unlimited hot water!!!" "Fast, reliable internet!!!" "Little fear of being raped while walking down a busy street in broad daylight!!!" This is the Canada I know and love.
And this is the Edmonton I know and love. The International Fringe Theatre Festival started last night - it's my favorite time of year. Hundreds of kooky shows, music, art, odd and wonderful people everywhere. It's like a family reunion, and it's only a couple of blocks from my house. It makes me proud to be an Edmontonian, and I'm glad to be back.
|The Last Saskatchewan Pirate: One of my favorite local bands, Captain Tractor, performing one of my favorite local songs.|
But I feel unsettled. Mostly because it's been all too easy to slip back into the familiar patterns, falling back into work and sleep (or non-sleep, as the case may be) and our busy social life. Yet I find myself feeling oddly homesick for a place I only spent a few weeks, and I have an ache in my heart for the people I connected with so deeply while there. I don't want the learning and the changing that I experienced on this trip to stop. And I want to find ways to continue the work that I experienced with Hands - even though I can't be there full-time.
I came home from this trip feeling oddly euphoric. While that feeling has lifted somewhat - call it a bizarre form of jet lag - I do feel far more at peace than I usually do. I look at my beautiful house, my wonderful healthy, hopeful family and friends, my interesting career - and I see I have pretty much everything I could want in life. The way I look at my future goals has shifted. They used to stem from a sense of dissatisfaction - "Why don't we have a bigger house?" or "I wish we made more money." Or "We better hurry up and have kids or else." But now I feel far more circumspect - it will all happen in good time. I'm not going to stop working toward the goals, but I no longer feel driven by the dissatisfaction with what I have or don't have, or where I'm at. And that is such freedom.
I feel far more content with being in the moment, just stopping and enjoying where I'm at and what I'm doing. They tried to teach me that kind of awareness in theatre school. It took twenty years, but now I get it.
I also have a much better understanding of the saying "First World Problems." I used to be a sweater-of-the-small-stuff. It's probably too radical to say that now I'm not, but I sure have a lot more peace about the usual annoyances of daily life.
But I also have a lot more vitriol about one thing: negativity. I have very little patience with negative, complain-y, controversy-loving, drama-seeking behavior. I used to buy into it. But after this experience, I have no room for it in my life. I not a Suzy Sunshine, but I have no energy to dwell on what's wrong with this world. I'd much rather focus on what's right with it. (Like this documentary: I Am - it's on Netflix, and well worth a watch).
And so, I'll leave this blog with a challenge to you, dear reader. Do something today that makes this world a better place. If you can afford it, sign up to spend $20/month to take care of a kid in Africa through Hands at Work: http://www.handsatwork.org/ca-give/. If you can't give money, find your own gesture that helps someone in your community or abroad. Even just smile or strike up a conversation with a stranger. Every small act builds up to create positive change. You have no idea what kind of difference you can make in someone's life.
You've all made a difference in mine. Thank you for being a part of this journey.