Growth, Growing, and Community

10 Sep

Color photo of horizon landscape after the rain

 

Today was one of those days that inspired me to “travel back in time”.  Not literally of course, but mentally.  I had a chance to catch-up with a close friend that I don’t get the opportunity to spend much time with anymore since we live almost 1,000 miles away.   There is something very special about friends who knew you “back then”, who know about the skeletons in your closet, who love you unconditionally, and when you talk its like hardly any time has passed – even if its been a few years or more.  That was today.  And while the conversation and news we shared was not all roses, it reminded me of how grateful I am to have such amazing friends.  We grow apart to grow together in some mysterious way.

It also made me slip back in time and think about the challenges I have faced in my life’s “chapters” thus far – and what growing means to me.   The life I live today is one that I am responsible for, it is the product of my own decision making (good & bad), relentless determination, and hard work.  And I can tell you that I am truly happy with where my life has taken me… though the road has not easy in the least.  I think back to the “chapter of life” called high school and I can’t even begin to express how I never want to go back to those days at any level.  Many people yearn to “go back to the good ol days of high school when they had no worries” – that is not me! For me high school was largely characterized by family conflicts, chronic health issues, and major  financial insecurity.  I recall very clearly just how painful growing was during that time.  The challenges seemed impossible to overcome, and at the time they were.   Those issues aside, you can always find kindred spirits anywhere in the world, and those years also brought some incredible lifelong friendships that I’ll cherish forever.

College on the other hand was a wonderful chapter in my book of life.  I continued to deal with all of the same issues as I had in high school, though they were less pervasive since I was a “few states away” from some of them.  And with each passing year of College I became a little bit more in control of my destiny.  It was empowering.  And in the process I uncovered many of my passions in life.  It wasn’t the physical place of going to college – it was the people, community, and learning (and growing) environment that was such a positive experience for me.  It was exactly what my soul needed to get beyond the dark years of my childhood and learn to follow my heart.  I can’t say enough good things about my experience at Colby-Sawyer College.  It was really the beginning of my life.  The day I graduated, I knew at that moment that I now own this life – and it was up to me what I made of it.  I now had the power to experience both personal failures and successes. It wasn’t that I had “grown-up” – I don’t believe we ever “grow-up” because we should never stop growing.

Then there were all the years, places, communities, and friends in between those great College days and the current chapter in my life.  They too were wonderful, not without their challenges of course.  I spent several years living and working in Costa Rica.  What an incredible experience.  The community I was a part of was so inspiring at many levels.  I also met the wonderful person who is my forever partner in this life.  Then there was grad school at UPEACE – another amazing part of my life.  And another community I am forever grateful for. I have to add here, the “Costa Rica” chapter in my book of life is not finished yet, I’m convinced that we’ll move back there someday in the foreseeable future.

After a few years of living in the land of pura vida, I felt ready & charged to take on the world’s biggest problems – pervasive poverty, injustice, deadly conflicts, environmental degradation, oppressive regimes, domestic apathy & greed.  My mind was spinning and I was determined to solve all of the issues plaguing the world.  Lets stop here for a moment… how the hell did I go from battling a chronic disease in high school to attempt to take on the world?  It’s all a part of the journey through life I suppose.  Then I made the move to Washington DC, and it was a reality check of sorts – I was suddenly a tiny fish in a very big pond.  I had to create a community where there was none.  And I had to find a place to harness my passions, put them to use, and make a living in the process.  All this in a city where success is predicated on “family” connections, which I didn’t have any of.  Now this is when I learned that changing the world begins with bite sized pieces.  I resisted these facts of life.  I was frustrated by how difficult it was to “make change” vis-a-vis public policy.  I came to Washington DC – with utopian ideals for how democracy works.  Oh I had so much to learn yet…

What is the point of this glazed-over monologue of a few years of my life?  There are a bazillion incredible little stories in there that really reveal the essence of life.  This “big picture” gives a reminder of just how valuable growth is.  It may mean something slightly different to each of us and that is a-okay… that is a goal of this blog “vive y deja vivir“.  Life – and growth – is both happy go-lucky and painfully challenging at the same time.  We are constantly growing and changing and should continue to do so as long as we still wake up each day.  I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I do have some good ideas of what I’d like to make of what I see coming along in the journey.  For now I’ll continue to productively harness my passions towards changemaking and allow the universe to work its magic.

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.  – Ronald Reagan

One Response to “Growth, Growing, and Community”

  1. fourbluehills September 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    So very true. So many stories in ones’ life. I have not seen my best friend while in the Air Force in at least 13 years. She helps me with one of my painful, and happy memories. The birth of my son, and his death at age five months from SIDS. I was stationed overseas in Germany when Eric was born, he would have been 29 years old on the 15th of this month, September. None of my family knew Eric as they were all back in the states. Heidi, my best friend, helps me from feeling like he is/was a dream. No one here knew him as they never met him. I hope that makes sense? Bittersweet all at one time. I’d be lost without Heidi at the times, which are no as frequent now as they were years ago, I still get weepy over the loss of my only child. Luv ya, Heidi!

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