So, I have not been writing for a few days. Well, I have been writing, but not online. In that sense, I am definitely old-fashioned. Much prefer pen and paper. So my last update was about learning. And how your last moment of learning in life will be how to die. Okay, bit dramatic huh? Well, right after I wrote that, I wasn’t feeling too great. I wasn’t dying in any way, but still. I went straight to bed (it was like 8 pm or so) and the next day I walked around with a warm sweater (even though it was like 30 degrees and sunny outside) while my stomach was making funny noises all day long. Not feeling 100 % fit, but still completely fine to do work. It’s been a long week. A good week in many ways. An interesting one for sure, but also one that really required some energy. Here are some thoughts piled together from 3 out of my 365 days of being 24.
The good and the bad days
So like I said. Good and bad days. I was just talking to some friends and so of them asked me: “what has been the most beautiful moment so far?” And you know, that’s actually really hard. When you start a new life, in a new country, things really need time. Today I met a lady that lives here now for 4 years with her husband. She said: “The first two years were just really, really difficult. I had some medical issues and couldn’t find a job. Only after two years, I started to settle down.” So I learned that I don’t necessarily like to think in big moments, but rather cherish small moments. And often those are a mix of the good and the bad. Looking back at the last week, one of those moments was making a good meal without power and eating it under the most beautiful starry sky pitch dark night with a cold beer and good company.
Moments like those are ones that make me really happy. But then there’s also the moments when you curl up alone in your bed, a warm water bottle in your arms pressed to your stomach to fight cramps. When you are confused and work days are just very, very long. When you don’t feel like eating, but you know you should eat something. When you’re cold and warm and all at the same time. When you want to read, but your eyes are too tired to stay open. The days that you don’t necessarily want to write about. You just want to get rid of them. Get them over with. Move on.
And yet… I believe in the good and the bad. Life isn’t static. It flows. When everything is going great and wonderful, that’s wonderful. The good life is very important to share. I love celebrating and I believe you really should. But aren’t the moments when everything sucks more precious and intimate? When you can just be truly honest. Like today when I was texting with a couple different friends in different countries. Not all of them were doing were so great. And then my week has been tough in some ways as well. So you share. You are honest. Even if you don’t feel great, you just get to be you. Without pretending. Because that is all you have to give. And then it’s enough to just close your eyes while someone is reading to you. I always feel that it is in the moments of giving and receiving, that create the most special form of connection. I think that’s intimacy. And intimacy shapes identity.
“…, You are loved and worthy.”
Close your eyes. Now imagine me looking into your eyes, really looking, and saying your name followed by those words. “You are loved and worthy.”
That’s basically what my Council speech was last summer. Long story short, but Council is this moment at Camp Rising Sun where people from the community get to share wisdom. And what I did was simply going around the circle. Name each and every single person and tell them that they were loved and worthy. (Funny fact, as I am writing this the song ‘She will be loved’ comes by on my playlist for tonight.)
Why I am telling you this story? The memory came up when I was walking through the hills of Muyenga today. I don’t really know why it was so powerful. And then another thought came up: intimacy shapes identity. I heard that this morning in a podcast episode. You need intimacy to develop and to root into your identity. The podcast gave a faith twist to it, however, I think it applies every single connection we make in life. Because if we allow for intimacy between you and someone else to happen, your identity will open up and be open for change and growth on the one side and at the same time your identity will learn to trust and root itself in that intimacy.
That memory brought me back to Camp Rising Sun. This morning I saw a quick video of the new staff for this summer. Many of these faces I already know. They have a very special place in my heart. They are my brothers and sisters. My family. That place upstate New York is really my home. So today I was definitely a bit homesick. I could have been there. I could have been a part of it. Yet I chose a different life. Which means I am on a different continent, staring at different stars. Putting my running shoes on to run through the hills of Karamoja or Kampala instead of the Rising Sun trails. I don’t get to hug my brothers and sisters this year. And that breaks my heart a little bit. I am a bit homesick in a way. Not necessarily missing my family back home, yet missing my family all around the world.
Never afraid, never brave and never alone
Yet even without me, they will have an amazing summer. Since everyone that is preparing now for the teenagers to come is talented and simply beautiful. Back in January I seriously considered giving up the opportunity of becoming trainee PGA with ZOA Uganda in order to be able to go back to that safe world called Camp Rising Sun. Simply because I was scared of the unknown. I wanted to go for the safer option. But yesterday in the car I heard an old song from Barlowgirl. It’s called Never Alone. I loved it as a teenager and could sing the whole thing along. It has an awesome rocky part to it. But basically, it speaks about those bad days that I wrote about today. When you don’t feel intimacy. Yet you trust that you are not alone.
Yet you trust that you are not alone. And I find committing to that trust freaking scary. But I still do. Because like Astrid Lindgren said: ” If you’re never afraid, you will never be brave.” And if you are never brave, you will lock up your heart in a box. Keep it safe from being broken, but you will never truly know what it is to be loved and worthy.
My week is almost over. Just a couple minutes left. I can hardly keep my eyes open. Yet I am happy that I took the time to trust these words to my online sheet of paper. Sleep well, lovely people out there. And just in case, no one has told you yet today: You too are loved and worthy.