In The Heights (I’m Home)

Thursday 3 December 2009

This past Monday evening, I had the pleasure to attend the Broadway musical In The Heights (winner of the 2008 Tony for Best Musical) in New York City.  It has some great music, but the story itself got me thinking again about home, a topic I discussed in the fall of 2007 on another blog post: home IS where the heart is.  In that post, I discussed how as I travel around, I take people with me in my heart, always bringing “home” along for the ride.

In The Heights got me thinking a bit more about how much that fact is or isn’t true.  I may get the love from many places, but what location feels like home?  In In The Heights, the main character’s parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic, which he feels to be his homeland and wishes to return, but really he, along with many of the characters, are in a struggle to reconcile the lands they or their predecessors came from with their attachment and feeling of “home” in the Washington Heights community of NYC they have become a part of.

Jumping around from place to place the last 2 1/2 years, never staying for more than about six months in one place (often less), it’s been a long time since I’ve felt any location or community as a true “home,” at least in the ways In The Heights creates such a feeling.  Thus, I am taken back to the place I grew up, NW Ohio, and the place I went to school and spent two years following, Chicago(land).  When you’re in a place that long, you develop a lot of connections not only to people but to the location and livelihood involved.  Thus, attending this musical got me thinking deeply about returning to my “homeland,” one of those two places.

However, it also reaffirmed another commitment within myself in this job search, and that is making a commitment to whatever community it is I find myself in next.  It’s been too long since I’ve really been able to commit to a location, but that’s one thing I’m thirsting for as I seek my next job.  At one interview, I was asked where I saw myself in 3 years, and I said I saw myself doing whatever it was I ended up doing next (in that case, that specific job). I see my next step as a longer term commitment than I’ve made for a quite a while.  I want to connect with a place again, something I’ve only tangentially done the past 2 or 3 years.

So while I have two settings that, deep down, feel like “home” to me (along now with multiple houses/residences), I think there is room for more.  While I think there would be some comfort to returning to Ohio or Chicago, I also believe that embarking on a new adventure in a new city/location has the ability to create a new “home” for me, wherever that might be.

I’ll just be waiting expectantly (the topic of my next blog) to find out exactly where that might be!

movement is challenging

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Being a transient/nomad/wanderer — whatever you want to call it — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I think I can speak as an expert, currently living in my 4th zip code in the past 12 months, with the two months prior to that being out of the country!  There are upsides to it, to be sure, but what brings me to blog today are challenges!

What’s striking me today as a rough part of jumping from place to place (to place) is having so many people I love scattered so far away from me, and what that means for my sense (or lack of) cohesive community.  Virtually every time I want to visit a friend or family member, it’s a “trip,” which usually means some sort of planning in advance, doesn’t happen very frequently for a repeat trip, and most likely means an overnight stay with whomever I’m visiting (unless I’m visiting multiple people in one place — which happens sometimes — but I still have to stay somewhere).

I’ve been lucky enough to keep pretty good connections with my family and with friends I’ve met in past stops along my journey, via telephone and letter writing, but there’s something special that happens in the presence of another that seems (at least for me) to rejuvenate more deeply the bond I have with the other.  I love all these people very much — that’s part of why I make the effort to stay in touch with them — but if I had my way, I’d love to pack us all up and set us down in one place, able to enjoy cookouts and hikes and movies and festivals together at a moment’s notice and still be able to head back to our own beds at the end of the day.

Every time you live in a place, you start setting down roots.  And every time you leave, you may keep some of those connections, but you have to virtually start over again.  And I’m getting tired.  I don’t know where I want to set down my final roots, which is part of the challenge, but it’s getting exhausting having to reboot myself every few months.

And I know this can’t just be just.  My generation is probably the most transient yet, and this wears on a person.  I may be taking it to an extreme lately, but any amount of restarting is challenging.  And part of the problem is that because everyone else is so transient, too, it’s hard to plop yourself into much of a meaningful group once you get to a new place because there hasn’t been enough time for one to form yet (not always, but in many instances)!  Instead, our generation seeks community online or isolates oneself in front of the TV, a book, or any other way they can find.

I do think my moving all around has given me some perspective, but when I finally plug myself into a community that I will want to engage and connect with, will I have enough energy left to use all the experiences I’ve been through to get there?  I guess I’ll see!… One day c:

Getting back on the horse

Wednesday 2 July 2008

So if you were paying attention (to my blog, that is — hopefully you’ve been paying attention to many other aspects of life), you probably realized the absence of any new posts since the month of May! Gasp, I know. I could give reasons and reasons, but I think it just boils down to the fact that I’ve been a bit removed from society since 1 June when I started work (once again) at Camp Mowana in Mansfield, Ohio. We first had two weeks of staff training and then I worked one week in Port Clinton, Ohio at a Bible School/Day Camp there and then last week at Mowana for a confirmation camp. Currently I have a (forced) week of vacation, but it’s given me a chance to visit my parents and a friend in New York (state), so aside from the loss of pay, I can’t complain. I’ve worked at Mowana in various degrees since summer 2002 (with a noted absence as a paid staffer last summer), and I’ve having a lot of fun and enjoyment again this summer.

But back to the fact that I haven’t written a blog entry in over 40 days! At first I was thinking that being away from televisions and the Internet (for the most part) while I’m at camp has just caused me to have less to think and write about, thus the lack of any blog material, but then I realized that wasn’t true. I think it’s two-fold: first, there is little (if any) time when I can sit in front of a computer and spill out some thoughts into a blog to post and share with you; if I have a free moment, I like to either be taking a break or hanging out with other staff members, as Mowana is probably the best community I can ever hope to live in.

The existence of community is much the reason why I probably don’t post much any more, too. I tend to think most of my blog posts tend to be about thoughts of ideas that I have and like to think about while I’m writing then down and then they get to be shared with you. But when I’m around such amazing people all the time who love to talk about different ideas and subjects of life, I tend to have those conversations in person, thus getting a lot of the thoughts out verbally and thus not feeling as much need to write anything down.

That being said, I think I’ll try to carve out some more time this summer (I think this post has taken maybe 15 minutes to write) to find some quite time to type up some thoughts and ideas I can share with you, especially since people actually do notice when I’ve been absent for such a long period of time! Here’s to you, loyal readers!

peace on earth

Tuesday 25 December 2007

You hear about it a lot this time of year, be it on the news or just around the office, but especially if you are or around Christian(s). Some examples:
The book of Isiah — “His name shall be called … Prince of Peace.”
It Came Upon The Midnight Clear — “The days are hast’ning on … when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling.”
O Holy Night — His law is love and His gospel is peace.”
And of course the song Let There Be Peace On Earth

We hear about it, but how much are we living it? We speak of peace, but then what? On my travels in October, I picked up this amazing book called The Peace Book, which gives “108 simple ways to create a more peaceful world.” I’m not quite done the book, but it’s been an amazing resource for me already. The book contains great suggestions, like: exercise your opportunities for democracy; celebrate the heroes and heroines of nonviolence; travel on a peace mission; empower the children; broadcast from the peace frequency (you’ll have to get the book to find out about that one). I highly suggest you purchase or find this book, and maybe even request that your local library purchase it. Find out how you can start living in peace every day.

We live in a world full of hatred, oppression, and violence seemingly around every corner. How can I, as one person, combat this? The Peace Book give what it called the Four Principles of Peace as a basis for transforming your life and the world.
1. Community (we are all connected and deserve mutual respect, appreciation of differences, and equal dignity and worth)
2. Cooperation (we are co-creating our shared reality as partners, whether we like it or not)
3. Nonviolence (love is the power that connects us and heals what violence destroys)
4. Witness (we must become living witnesses to the power and promise of peace)

We all are at a different starting point, but if we actively strive to living a life of peace and nonviolence and witness that reality in our daily lives, we can start to make the waves that will change the world.