Tuesday, February 26, 2013


It's almost exactly one year since I boarded the plane to Uganda. My dearest fellow intern reminded me of this fact yesterday and it got me to thinking and feeling a bit nostalgic. I should be doing a million other things right now but I felt the need to spew out some of my thoughts into semi-coherent words. Lately, perhaps because of my impending quarter of a century birthday, I've been continuing my contemplation of home and the direction of my life. A brief review of my life would show that it's clear I've never been one of those oh so lucky people who had a pretty clear path from the beginning. My life "plan" changes approximately every day and my plans never work out the way I envision either.

Certainly, my generation is one of wanderers. Our priorities and goals have shifted and we have opportunities at our fingertips that our parents didn't. But regardless of the lifestyle changes of my generation, there is something to be said about having roots. Perhaps you travel the whole world and stretch and grow and scatter some seeds in different places, but there are still roots to hold your ever growing leaves and branches in place, to allow you to weather a storm, to remind you of who you are. But the concept of roots is difficult for me. Yes, I have clear citizenship, I have a place in the US where I have spent a significant amount of time (and it is significant!). But when someone asks me where I'm from and I'm forced to specify a state, it makes me pause. How do you really determine where you're from? Where you've spent the most time? Where most of your friends are? Where you identify the most culturally? Where your family is? I would  give a different location if I answered each of those questions separately. Over the last week, I've interacted with old friends, new friends, random acquaintances and strangers and the common theme of the week has been home. One wise new acquaintance told me that you always return home and kept asking me where home is. When he was finally exasperated by my unclear answers he said: "find a place then and make it home".

Human beings want to belong somewhere. I think I have been gifted with the talent of being able to adapt very effortlessly in many different environments--the ability to make any place my home. But, increasingly I have this desire to find a place, or at least accept the life of a nomad. Even for me it does get tiring constantly making new friends, packing and unpacking, and often explaining myself to people. There are very, very few people in the world who know the full Rachel and with each new place I move the number of people who really know me does not increase. What makes up Rachel instead constantly changes, making old friends unfamiliar, and new friends familiar.

I've loved all the places I've lived. I've disliked parts of all the places I've lived. And I've perhaps too harshly criticized all the places I've lived. Maybe I will find a place. Maybe I will grow roots. Or maybe I will simply let people be my roots. I will let strong friendships allow me to weather storms and make me feel secure. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that places can be taken away from you and perhaps I'm stronger by putting my trust in God and friendships than becoming perhaps too comfortable in one place.

Back to work! And this old post is also what sparked my thoughts (even though it is a bit unrelated).

No comments:

Post a Comment