Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Joy x 2

I posted a couple of days ago about how it feels to always be saying goodbye and missing people on the other side of the world from wherever I seem to find myself. There's actually a term for it. It's called "separation and loss" and I sometimes get to speak on it when I'm called on to help with seminars on international living, transition-shock and the like.

Here's the flip side: there's also multiplied joy.

I'm sitting at my desk in Tanzania and the bird chatter outside my window is bright. I can hear Byron laughing in the kitchen with the women of the fruit drying project. The banter between them is constant. Yes, he's been pulling his hair out today overseeing several things at once, but he's generally jovial because he knows he's where he should be. We're a part of small efforts making incremental differences on a vast continent. The key phrase is "making a difference."

Shortly before leaving the States I found myself considering all the things I wasn't looking forward to about being back in this home, lovely as it appears. I thought about power rationing and cockroaches and rats and showers that don't work and other things I'm prone to whine about. Each of them seemed worthy of complaint as I enjoyed the very clean, very orderly, very comfortable home of my parents where going for a walk is calming, cheering and easy in the lovely neighborhood of their setting and where there are two Trader Joe's nearby! Two! I admit to feeling a little grim about some of the downsides of this African town.

Just a few days after this pondering, I sat at Mom's perfect little table looking out from her astonishingly clean kitchen to their very tidy garden. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a fat rat just a-waddling down my parents drive way. What on earth? In the middle of the afternoon he was just strolling along as if he owned the place!

The humor of it was not lost on me.

Turns out, there is no perfect place. There is only my choice to find the joy wherever I am.

And there's a good plenty here.

Truth be told, I am overwhelmed with happiness when I get back to my parents' home and I cry when I leave. But I cried when I got back to Africa, as well; hello tears that reminded me how much I love it here.

I believe I am blessed to get to hold so much joy.


katie said...

i am also living for now with a nearby trader joes. all i can say is.... FABULOUS! i am sure i will miss it when i go again.

Carolyn said...

Ahhhhh!! I was right with you there, sitting in your mom's kitchen, looking out the window.....a rat??? aaacckkkk!! Too, too funny!

Marsha said...

As usual, you write well and powerfully. Yours is one of the few voices that can tell a story with a moral and not annoy me. Thank you.

lisa said...

Thanks so much, Marsha. I take that as a high compliment. Funny, I never think of it as telling a story with a moral. I think of it as the things I'm learning along the way.

Carolyn, can you believe it? And Katie, I have this long term love affair with Trader Joe's. Absence makes the heart grow fonder! :-)