Well, here I am in Buenos Aires. I am 10 hours into my trip and have many many hours to go… my flight that was supposed to leave here at 5:30pm has been delayed until 8:00pm and so it has been a long wait here at Ezezia so far. With the delay I will miss my connection in Toronto making the 36 hour trip even longer… But in any case I am on my way. Me and my 3 slightly overweight pieces of luggage… (I blame it on the dulce de leche!)
Going home. Wow. 10 months ago I was just beginning this adventure. I was leaving the comfortable little corner of the world that I have called home since I was born and embarking on something new. I was excited. I was nervous. I was filled with questions about what these 10 months would bring.
I was thinking today about a moment at Brentwood that happened back in January. Something that I wrote about here in my first post. I had been talking to a Grade 2 class about what I was going to be doing and one little boy raised his hand to ask a question. This little boy is one who is near and dear to my heart. He was in my kindergarten class a couple years before and he has taught me so much. Anyways, he raised his hand and he asked me “are you scared?” And I told him that yes, I was scared. I was scared to be leaving my home, my family, my friends, and all that is familiar to me. I also told him that I think it is ok to feel a little bit scared when we are about to do something new and that we cannot let that fear serve as a road block. We must let it serve, instead, as a guiding post. Because if we wait for the fear to go away then we will never try anything new.
When I was preparing to come to Salta I was filled with questions about how the experience would unfold. It was a challenge for me to handle all those unknowns as I am the kind of person who likes to know. I like to have answers. I like to know what to expect. And because I didn’t have the answers I developed certain ideas in my mind about how my time here might be to try and fill the need of knowing. It is natural, I think, to build up certain expectations when we are anticipating something new in our lives. We use our imaginations to paint a picture of what the experience will be like in order to fill in the unknowns. My experience did not totally match that picture I drew in my mind. My experience was, for the most part, much different. But my experience here has been so important and one that I would not change. I have met some amazing people, I have had the opportunity to love so many little ones, and I have faced challenges that have helped me grow. My experience did not match that original picture in my mind but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good experience. On the contrary, I think it was exactly what it needed to be.
Just as I was filled with questions when I was preparing to come here I find myself now, on my way home, filled with questions once again. Because while yes, I am going home to a comfortable and familiar environment there is a lot I wonder about. I wonder when I will find an apartment, I wonder what it will be like teaching Grade One for the first time, I wonder what it will be like to go back to Brentwood after being away, I wonder if it will feel as if I never left… and these are just a few of the many questions that I find whirling around in my thoughts on a regular basis.
Questions can be good. Questions can help propel us to learn new things as we search to find answers to our wonderings. Questions can also be overwhelming. When we dwell on questions, especially those related to the future, we can become stuck because in many cases the questions are impossible to answer especially when we look to others to try and answer them for us. I read something recently by poet Ranier Maria Rilke on this subject that really resonated with me.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/06/01/rilke-on-questions/
I found that his writing challenged me to view my questions in a new way. He writes about the importance of not letting our need for answers prevent us from living. He encourages one to instead live the questions and when we live the questions we will find that the answers will reveal themselves as they should and when they should just through this act of living. If, instead, we focus all our attention on finding the answers themselves we will miss out on the living that could have happened along the way and I am beginning to understand that without living our search for answers will be forever fruitless. While I think I have a ways to go before I will really be able to live and love the questions it is, I believe, a practice worth pursuing.
10 months ago I was embarking on a new journey that would take me out of my comfort zone. A journey that would stretch me and challenge me in ways I never would have expected. And now, here I am, 10 months later, ready to return home again. I am bringing much home with me. I am bringing memories of all the people who I have met and who have been so kind and welcoming to me. I am bringing home a heart full of 110 little ones who I had the opportunity to get to know and work with both at the Jardincito and in the three Kinder 5 classes at Santa María. I am leaving Salta with new understandings, new perspectives, and also the determination to continue to grow and challenge myself in new ways. I am coming home with the desire to “be patient toward all that is unsolved” and to “try to learn to love the questions themselves.”
Thank you to all those who played a part in my Salta experience. I am forever grateful to you all and I cannot wait to see you again in Salta, Canada, or somewhere in between!
Thank you also to all of you back home who have been so supportive from afar. I cannot wait to see you again (as soon as this 39 hour marathon of a trip comes to an end!)