Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back in the USA

So I have been in the USA for about 10 days now. The questions come fast and furious about Cameroon or being back in the US. So without further ado and perhaps much ado about nothing:

What I LOVE about being back in the USA:
Cheddar (and now in no particular order)
Blueberries
Cherries
Fireflies
dry air (even in the "humidity" of South Bend)
Highways
really fast internet
Lula's coffee house; Elia's (in a new location); papa joe's
deep conversations!
The open landscape of Michiana
more privacy
not being stopped by the police and asked for my papers
no "gratuities" to governing authorities
Life feels easy here, I just don't know how else to describe it.

It was wonderful to drop in to SoCal visiting with a few friends and family; to see the mountains, but I don't really miss living in California. Indiana really has felt like home. I have missed our friends who have moved away. But have completely enjoyed those who are still around. I found myself musing that if South Bend had mountains it would be close to ideal. That is quite a change from when we were looking at residency options.

Yet I do miss Cameroon. Perhaps the saying is true: home is where the heart is. My heart is with Trixy and "the kids". I also miss my home-roasted coffee and Beno's pain au chocolate. I miss seeing Mt Cameroon. I miss bananas that have flavor. I miss awesome avocados and pineapples. But when I return to Buea all will not be the same. Some friends will have moved on to the next chapter of their lives and new friends will be made. Change is constant.

"Youth is wasted on the young" is a memorable line from "Its a Wonderful Life." I have a sense of my own mortality. I will not be here forever. Like George Bailey I wonder if my life has had any real and lasting impact. And then I think that it really doesn't matter if I have a legacy or even what it will be.

We share our time ever so briefly. Even if we get three score and five years together (as my parents are celebrating this year), it is still too brief. Remind me - please - that I believe I should treat others as I want to be treated. Not because I expect them to treat me that way. But because I choose to love even when they hate. I will choose to bless even when I am cursed. Remind me of this when I am cursed. Remind me of this when I am ugly and angry. Remind me of this in gentleness and with compassion. Remind me so I can learn and grow.

Life isn't easy on any continent. Life can be deceptive. We can be focused on the ball and miss the gorilla. We can be focused on the gorilla and miss the people dropping out of our lives.

Reality isn't just what we think we see or what we think we know. Our perspectives are all clouded, our understanding of reality is limited. There is no single algorithm or logic to explain everything. If science has taught us anything it has taught us that we really don't know much about anything. Science shows us that our perceptions cannot be trusted. Sciences teaches us that our bias influences our reality.

Who are the thought police? Are we free to choose what we believe? Do we really have to ridicule those who believe differently? Does what we believe make us better people? Do the things we value make more trustworthy? or do we just consume them? When our values bump into different values are we able to respect each other? Remind me again, that I choose to respect you even if you don't respect me.

I don't have all the answers. Thankfully no one I know does and I'm pretty sure no one else on the planet does either - even when they to think they do.

This I do know: Life is to be lived; to be savored. Like the effect on the taste buds of a good coffee or extra sharp cheddar, my life can be a savory delight, not just for myself, but for those with whom I interact. Please remind me when I am as unsavory and tasteless as an American banana.