These are a few images of people and places that are on my mind and in my heart when I wake up each day. When I wake up in the morning and the first few moments of the day bring the realization that I'm back in my comfortable bed with a large, brown dog laying on my feet, I'm never sure which way my mind will go. Many days I feel incredibly happy and safe and comfortable to wake up to such a thing, other days, I mourn the idea that this comfort means I'm so far from where I long to be.
We've been back in Canada for three weeks and it hasn't all gone smoothly. I'll be honest, it's been ugly for me at times. I can't seem to find that fit again, which I thought was something I was prepared for, but it's just as uncomfortable and disconcerting as it has ever been. I've wandered the bookstores and hit up the old favourite coffee shops in an attempt to find that place that brings me comfort but none of them feel the way I want them to. I only feel that way walking into Mulenga or sitting in the presence of care workers tending to one of their patients or visiting with children. It's a rare thing to feel like you're in the exact right place at the exact right time. I am happy to experience that when I am in different communities. It doesn't have to be in Africa, but lately, that's where it has been for me.
Today, my third week back at work, I realized I have been on a slippery slope mentally. I can't believe I just typed that out...that's totally going to be used against me some day! It's true though, I've been playing games with myself trying to balance the life I have here, particularly my work life which revolves around consumerism and needless acquisitions of glittery, glamorous and good smelling things. I'm not going to lie, I love where I work. It's pretty. It smells good. And that's just the girls I work with! Today though, after searching for some time for a long sold out candle holder for a high maintenance customer, I reached the tipping point of the balancing game. Upon discovering that she would not be able to acquire a second $40 candleholder, she told me that it was "heartbreaking". I waited until she walked a few steps away and then I looked at my boss and said, "Heartbreaking? Children dying of starvation in Africa is heartbreaking, not being unable to buy another candle holder." Thankfully, my boss is a good person. She knows the root of my sarcasm and laughed and walked away, warning my coworkers that I might be about to snap. Thankfully, my customer was happy enough with her purchases she could make to get her out of the store without further heartbreak.
I realize though that I am seeing things through a different filter once again. Every time I go to Africa or hear stories coming out of Africa, the filter diffuses life here a little more and more. I am just beginning to wonder when life here will look so ridiculous that it will be unbearable or if it will become more and more palatable as time goes on. I don't know which is worse. Well, I do know...which is worse for me. I don't want to find it acceptable to mindlessly consume and spend without bettering anyone's life in the process. I don't want to be okay with acquiring and stuffing the empty spaces of our lives with stuff in an effort to drown out the voice within us all that says, "Something's wrong! Look around!" It would be easier if I could come to terms with that but I'm not thinking that's going to happen anytime soon.
So, bear with me. I'm honestly trying not to be judgmental about how I look at the culture around us. I'm just trying to be discerning. If I tip the balance again, feel free to call me on it. Until then, I am going to hold on in this awkward position between worlds for a while.