Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sense of Place

I dipped out of Japan on this day off, something that happens quite often on days of no obligations.  Part of me still lives in another world on the other side of the ocean, part of me visits the one behind Asia.  Part of me still persists elsewhere.

There are communities to which we belong our whole lives, or for long periods of our lives, whether they are a religious institution, a group of friends, a family.  They are not defined by our physical location, but our presence and theirs is still important.  They feed what we give to the new communities that we create where we live.  In being physically so far away, the importance of remembering and reflecting on the communities from which I came has become more and more evident to me.  It has been another stage in my understanding of self, realizing the values that have been taught to me, realizing the values to which I have listened, reflecting upon them as a means of stability in a world that isn't mine.  I'm a child here, but one that remembers and honors many lives before this one.

And when I step out of Japan, I do not leave it.  I am still within it and it is still growing in me.  It is a life that will persist in me whenever I am elsewhere.  It is a life that is offering me lessons that I will carry with me and reflect upon for the rest of my life.

There is a weaving of presence and absence.  I am here and not there.  But I'm not without where I have been, I'm not without who I have known, those who have given to me knowingly and unknowingly.  They grow within me in their absence.  And it makes me think that perhaps part of me is growing within those I cannot see, those I may never have known I touched.  It seems important to acknowledge that this exchange persists.   What has been given to me in the past and what is being offered to me now?  And of these things, what am I giving?

To step of away, to step within, to return to a space that is elsewhere, but always here–sometimes these things can bring us closer to our physical surroundings.  Sometimes we can find a sense of self, a sense of purpose in reflecting upon what values have been given to us and how those values have shaped us into a being that will influence the world in which we live.  And then we can return to the place where we are with more of ourselves present, with more to offer, with more to give.

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