Today, at 7AM, Marie Walker flew away from home. She will be away for a year, far away from her home and friends and family in Trinidad to study in Spain. It’s one of those decisions that someone signs up for just to have a ticket to the lottery but doesn’t think they have a shot at the prize, I suppose. Little did she know then, maybe, that she’d win. And when she did, she spent some time wondering if this was what she wanted or needed in her life right now. She’s only 22, working for a Masters at 23, on her first journey this far and this long away from her mother’s bed. In some places, I envy her a lot. And in other’s I don’t.
The ways I don’t are pretty simple; I can’t imagine tearing myself away from the great friends in my life, although I can’t say that I have a great deal of them. I don’t have a great job or a fantastic house and family, but there are a lot of little things that I have and have grown used to, and I have never been away from my own uncomfortable double-decker bed for more than 10 days.
But there’s one thing that I wish I had like she did – the Great Perhaps.
I’ve been on a great many enlightening mini-journeys – a three-day workshop in Chile, a weekend representing young people on HIV in Africa, presenting for the first time at a conference in Brazil – and I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world around me in those pockets of time. Things that were already there, but just needed to come out. I learned that I was valued as a youth and an activist, that I had the skills to get things done, and that my insight was better than even I gave value to (and that I have a fetish for flying…yep, weird). I even learned that I was a lot more emotional and needy than I originally thought, and that part of the reason I was leaving – and coming back – was because I was looking for some something to replace that void. But I could always come back. If things went poorly and I just wanted it to end, I could come back. If it went excellently and I was having a blast and making new friends, I would still have to come back.
My friend Marie, on the other hand, won’t be back for a while. She won’t be writing a short story about a weekend’s worth of experiences. She’d be writing a chapter or two, about her glorious firsts and hopeful lasts, about moments, monuments and momentum, about the things she’s learned and hopes to learn and hopes to teach others. She’ll come back wiser and more exposed, with so many stories to tell her family and friends.
In a way, she’s going to live a life in a bottle. She has to go through the struggle of putting the pieces in place for a couple of weeks or months, and then the pressure of lifting the pieces in place. But, when it’s all done and she’s done all the hard work, she’ll be able to say that she’s built a masterpiece. In this case, the masterpiece is the independence she’ll gain, life lessons she’ll learn, experiences that will mold her and show her who she was. And she closes the bottle and bring it back for all her loved ones to see.
With all that’s going on with my life these days, I can see how empowering that has a chance to be. You have an opportunity to go where no one knows your name, and prove that you’re smart, wise, caring, thoughtful and daring enough to give and receive the things that are most important in life. And, after you do, you get to go back home and count those medals and relish in those victories. And, if there’s anything I know about this friend of mine, it’s that she’ll be victorious.
Hope you have an excellent time in Spain, Marie. Don’t forget to be awesome. Blessings, Compassion & Peace.