“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” – Frederick Buechener, Telling the Truth
I travel a lot, and even when I’m not traveling I am always apart from people I love. This was a reality taught to me at a very young age as I commuted from one parent’s home to the next. And maybe today that’s why I’m still on the move. But I’ve noticed a shift in me lately and I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet but I am realizing that saying good bye never gets any easier.
There are people that I love all around the world. I have moments when I think, “Oh I wish X were here…he/she would love this moment.” And there are other times when I have personal revelations and I want to share that with a specific person, but they are so far away.
Sometimes I write letters or emails. I’ve even made phone calls to stay connected. I think about these people in my life, many of them who cross my heart on a daily basis…and I pray…I pray that they are safe and well. But they are always with me.
On the one hand, it feels good to know that there are people who love me all over the place. It’s comforting to be surrounded by love because there are so many other instances in this world that can make us feel lonely. And yet, being separated from that same love also produces loneliness and longing….the kind that makes you want to turn back and change your life plan. But for someone like me…what would I change my plan to?
Through travel and life experience my identity has been aligned to the people and places of my daily existence. There are certain things about me that are true, with small variations, no matter where I am (I think). And yet, I try to remain open and permeable to the possibility of change in and through a new experience. And so, any one person or event can contribute to my evolving identity. There are societal markers that help people identify who I am and there are labels to pigeonhole me, or at least to help articulate pieces of me. But these words do not always identify my true character… only my family and friends have that ability, and I think that has something to do with this quote…this piece of family and friends “living in me”.
I am a live and evolving body…a collection of people that I try so very hard to be present too. These are the people who help articulate who I really am. And no matter how far I go, I am never so far that my memory of them is not also alive.
I think about this as I leave Belize in a week….as I go back to my childhood home and stomping grounds…and then travel back to Chicago where I now live. These are all places…and collections of people…each and every one of them, that I carry.