Looking at Yourself, With The World Looking In…

In the last few days, I have had moments of tranquility following many many non moments of tranquility – from moving across continents to seemingly split decisions, fast-paced moments that honestly do not seem to give you time to recognize the world around us.  Yet, the world around us keeps moving, and will not, does not stop amid much controversy.

I love, LOVE the honesty of this article – simply asking how to talk race and the expectations of when astoundingly sharp and repulsive actions that occur regarding race, in lieu of the massive uprisings and conflicts involving race.  However, I see many individuals simply drop to the decisions of popular thought and opinion when many do not know how to deal with when inside they disagree.  Simply put, the months and even years leading up to my departure from the United States let me witness many slanders and awful comments made regarding the issue of those not born in the United States, or even born in the United States, and parentage from another country and despite being an American, comments made as flippant to be considered normal; yet the issue of immigration being used as a rug of disgust instead of common sense and mature discussion.  It affected me and bother me on many levels, especially as an English educator.

From living six years in Mexico and seeing and realizing how unimaginative the news and press can be in not representing the real story, while also realizing the true nature of a beautiful people, culture, and country as Mexico, I return to the United States, amid so much that has occurred in six years and realize this.  The United States is and has always been my country.  I am thankful for the opportunity and freedoms that had enabled me to attend college and get multiple degrees, yet, I will not, and cannot ever endorse racial and ethnic stereotypes that many Americans continue to push as truth, vocally, in action, and in thought.  That has never been my definition of American, and being thankful  for experiences as an American to reinforce that being an American means standing up for diversity, standing up for ethnicity, that variety of fibers in the American flag makes American the great country it is, not simply the years of taking advantage of minorities such as Native Americans, Japanese-Americans, Muslim-Americans and more.  Yes, there are many negative aspects of being an American, and so many positive ones.  I am empowered with the blessings I received in Mexico to realize the dream of being an American is one that can still shown by actions, supporting local and international communities. There is power in going against common stereotypes, and that power is in disproving the fallacies and showing by action the truth.  

Many ask me how I am doing with the move back to the United States, amid living abroad for so long.  There is no doubt, living abroad changes the open-mindedness of people, the scope of thought when it comes to how the United States looks like from afar, a completely different perspective only benefits anyone that has ever been born in the United States, and simply living abroad for a year or more, anyone will realize this, VERY difficult to do unless that occurs.  An article given to me by my Mom, when I came home, titled “Stop the Week!”, by Wayne Muller, was VERY inspiring.  Muller relates to how individuals and the need to observe Sabbath is vital for renewal.  This article exemplifies how it is so so easy to simply, in this country or another, keep a constant running list of things to do and to achieve, without ever having a moment in between to reflect on that list.  This excerpt from his article is ideal in helping put what many find themselves lost in the mix in today’s society:

 In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between action and rest. As the founder of a public charity, I visit the offices of wealthy donors, crowded social-service agencies and the small homes of the poorest families. Remarkably, within this mosaic there is a universal refrain: “I am so busy.” I speak with people in business and education, doctors and day-care workers, shopkeepers and social workers, parents and teachers, nurses and lawyers, students and therapists, community activists and cooks. The more our life speeds up, the more we feel weary, overwhelmed and lost. Despite our good hearts and equally good intentions, our life and work rarely feel light, pleasant or healing. Instead, as it all piles endlessly upon itself, the whole experience of being alive begins to melt into one enormous obligation. It becomes the standard greeting everywhere: “I am so busy.” We say this to one another with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, our ability to withstand stress a mark of real character. The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know that the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single mindful breath — this has become the model of a successful life.”

I am able to find the memories that truly make me miss so much about leaving Mexico, that is an absolute truth, intertwined with individuals that still do not know, to this day, how much their very existence in my life helped paint a picture of life I never knew existed in Mexico.  There is the return to a state like Delaware, where you lift your nose, (my dogs do this every day) and smell in the wind the smell of freshness, the Bay, the water, sea life, the freshness of mornings and crispness of evening, warm days, warm friendships, BBQ’s that define the summer and winters that exemplify the coastal influence – and I am the better for having been able to be part of the two worlds.

New students, new schools, new lives, and yet, if we allow it, we never have to change, but can be allowed to be a better person based on the geographic, social, ethnic, and personal schedules we create, we follow, and we designate.  Much to think about, and so important to allow the time to let these thoughts roll over us day after day instead of pushing them through a conveyer belt of busyness.

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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