Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Finding Freedom in our Choices

The other evening over a glass of wine, my girlfriend was describing to me one of the most powerfully memorable moments she had with herself. Driving through a winding country road at the break of dawn with the new day’s sun light streaking down to the pavement in between the trees. Dave Matthews band filling the car from the speakers – the kind of music that doesn’t stop at your ears, but travels into your blood, into your bones. Armed with the knowledge that she was leaving her man for the better, filled with the efficacy to move her life forward, overflowing with the confidence and contentment that life was going to be just fine. Better than fine. Amazing.

“Enjoy the dance.”

Over three weeks since I left Africa and the longing to go back is getting stronger and stronger. I close my eyes and imagine propping myself up against my bedroom window and peering out at the morning sky as it unfolds over top the palm trees. Starting with the yellow glow, moving to a more offensive orange, then quickly revealing it’s source’s shape and size. It’s God’s not so subtle reminder of his power and beauty before I even ask for a glass of water and my scriptures.

“Que Sera Sera.”

Running down the walkway along the river at the New Westminster Quay, trying not to slip on the frost, letting the “Kings of Leon” fill me with the energy to keep pushing. Soft white light begins to slide into the sky. (If only to anthropomorphize, the sunlight was as sleepy as I was.) Pink rays jump up with more excitement causing the white to shrink back into hiding. Soon the purples, oranges and reds take over the horizon and I’m again reawakened by the fact that this morning, this day, is not about me. Yesterday was not about me. Tomorrow will not be about me. No moment in time will ever be about me. Nothing I will ever do in my life can be as significant as today’s sunrise. Even if no one stops to enjoy it.

“Three things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” - Buddha

There is a freedom found at dawn. Something much larger than it just being the start of a new day, or the view of light conquering the darkness one more time. For me the freedom comes from being given a choice to either live for me, or live for Love. Devote life to being about something – anything – greater than myself. And when I can make that choice, I’m full. There is only one way I can describe this fullness. It’s like I swallowed the sunrise. As though God hands me over the power, beauty, confidence and passion of that glorious creation to carry with me throughout the day.

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus

Every dawn is a choice. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. Own your choices. That's where you find freedom.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

I Heart Vancouver

I really love this city.

I was walking up from the Granville Skytrain Station the other day and was immediately greeted by a casual busker playing some 70's hit that I recognized enough to get into it, but not enough to sing along to.

A flock of pigeons fluttered in every which direction as I jay-walked across the street trying to avoid the busy sidewalk.

How many other places in this world can you buy roasted chestnuts on the street corner downtown?

I met up with a girlfriend at the Vancouver Art Gallery for a meeting about the not-for-profit program I'm helping her run. Even looking at the opportunity for two women as young as us and as new to the "real" world as we are, to have the chance to create an impact in this way is pretty unheard of in most metropolitan cities. (The free coffees that our wonderful friend keeps serving us definitely aids the enjoyment of the whole day's experience.)

Something very abstract about this city makes me feel more like myself than anywhere else. I've always been aware of it, but after such an extended period of absence, I'm even more tuned to the vision. It's reminding me of my early discussion on how context brings out different aspects of who we are. I really love the parts of me that Vancouver brings out. I feel like God really uses this city in so many ways to show me who I am and who He created me to be. So much truth.

... even truth I don't like to see as much.

The hardest things to go back to are always the things you felt closest to before you left. Going back to the gym I used to work at was weird, because I almost felt like I was trying to pretend nothing changed. And after an open, honest and raw discussion with a previous friend, I realized that's exactly what I portrayed - that nothing changed. Whatever it is about that place, those people, that atmosphere, it brings out parts of me that I don't love so much. Parts of me I really need to confront and overcome. Parts of me that still need healing.

And with these "reverse culture shock" challenges, I am so grateful that I'm in a place I love this much, because just as it is hard, it's also wonderful. I'd have to say coming home is almost as insightful as being in Africa. I keep having to stop myself before I fall back into the same old lifestyle patterns. The same detrimental things that brought me to the state I was at before I left in the first place. And it's actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, because I'm so overly aware and observant of my actions and the actions of those around me.

At this point, I'm trying to establish some much needed routine in my life. I am being shown all these opportunities, and just trying to trust that all will happen in His time.

... However, I can only go so long without a steady income...

Friday, 6 February 2009

The most significant moment of your life...

Sitting down to write a blog to bring my Africa journey to close has been... challenging.
I'm tempted to say that this is because I'm not ready to close the journey. That part of me wishes I was still there, complaining about the heat, searching for grilled sausage on mountain bikes with Uncle Darrin, listening to children screech "Yevu" at me as I walk down the street. Because I really do miss all those things. I always thought it sounded cheesey when people would say they "left a peice of their heart in Africa," but I get it now. I relate. It feels impossible to draw that journey to a close because, in a way, it will never close. I will always remember the last 4 months of my life as a permanent part of me, not something that came and went, was here and now is gone. Too much about who I am, how I live my life, and how I view the world has changed and grown, to the extent that I could never feel like I'm leaving it behind, because I would be leaving myself behind. Does that make sense?
So rather than "closing" a journey, I will simply open a new one. A new one about this direction-less, job-less, money-less, worry-less, home-less, and, essentially, "thing"-less young woman, who, for having so much "less" in her life has never felt more fulfilled and has never been more excited about where her life is at and where it is going.
(And apparently, she talks in third person now.)
I'm excited about this new path I'm on simply for the knowledge that it's purpose is far greater than just pleasing myself on a day to day basis. That there are no regrets, what-ifs, or guilty feelings when you truly believe that the life God wants you live is the best possible life you can have. Where every moment of the experiences I go through, every breath of the air I'm breathing, and every second of the time that is passing, conglomerates to form LIFE. No moment is greater than the one you are currently in. As you sit here, reading this blog, you are really living.
From the littlest things we do, to the largest...., from the actions others will witness, to the ones captured in privacy...., from the moments that fill us with joy, to the ones that make us wonder if we will ever really heal..., from the conversations we will always remember, to the ones we can't help but forget..., from the time we see as wasted, to when we view it as important.... cherish it.
Because it is the most significant moment our lives.
The only moment we exist in.