Time continues to baffle. When I reflect on our Thai experience it feels like a snap of the fingers. During our experience abroad time was slow, focused, and in the present - sometimes excruciatingly so. But now, that expansive book is already compressed into an all-too-thin Cliff’s Notes. A floppy book lacking context, subtlety, direction, character, beauty, and honesty. And honestly, I do not know where to look in my mind to rejoin that feeling: whatever that feeling was, whatever the meaning was. After I walk away, where does the meaning go?
And it is not just the experience, but my person that remains in flux. Settling? Without work or structure or home, how do I engage society? There have been strides. We are more intentional people than before we left. We are disciplined in our spending. We recognize when we are not engaging activities to feed the values that now give us satiety and comfort. I am patiently wading through who I was, who I became, and who I want to be now. My feet catch on distraction and escape - arresting my progress. Expectations pull the path indirect, but not directionless. And quiet and focus are hard to come by.
Who I was, who I became, and whom will I be. This last week I have started to recognize that much cannot be rectified. Not everything from those first two boxes can fit into the new box - nor should it. But what defines personal fulfillment after living in two worlds and I am now a neither world?
Susan and I are settling into Chicago very nicely. Our fears have been allayed as we walk, and talk, and reacquaint ourselves with this city we love. Bike rides, river-front runs, and all the people we know. Everyone wiling to help in any way we need. Overwhelming generosity.
Helping ease the tension is the promise of income. I have accepted a position at the Anne & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. I will be returning to the emergency room, which will be an environment I am comfortable in. Night shifts for the time being are a challenge we can handle.
Susan has had several interviews, and interest from different avenues. Hopefully she will be floating down a beautiful career boulevard in the not-too-distant future.
Finally I'm finding the energy and focus to get up early to go make some photographs. City photography is challenging. I walk for a few hours looking for visually compelling content. Sometimes it is hard to find or see the beauty right in front of my face. I am sure it will come, but the elements of interest are much different in this city than they were in the Thai countryside.
The current problems of Chicago and the USA weigh heavily on me. We are looking to become engaged, but it is hard to make a commitment to any organization or effort without knowing exactly where we will live, work, and on what schedule. Without an outlet, the constant barrage of bad news is exhausting and overwhelming. During mass, St. Terese of Avila Church gives prayers for each individual killed in Chicago by violence during the week prior. As I stand and listen to each name read, there is no escaping the gravity of the problem and the weight of these lost lives.
Several weeks ago our church held an event titled Peace & Violence in Chicago: What Can I Do? It was a heartening evening where over 200 people came to hear about (I think 14?) organizations that are finding innovative ways to help curb the violence. Most of these organizations are always looking for volunteers or funding.
This morning I listened to a great episode of On The Media from a while back titled “This is Not a Safe Space.” Hot button issue right? I found it to be an interesting look at the 'Safe Space' and 'Trigger Warning' debate that could even bleed into the conversation about 'Political Correctness.' This podcast looked at two perspectives regarding the argument, and I think most of us can learn a little from both. They show the merits of both sides, the dangers they pose when taken to extremes, and some of the misconceptions as well.
Currently I am reading the The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. I am only 1/3rd of the way through, but it is fascinating. I enjoy learning the philosophical and spiritual influences that guided him to become the man he was. It is interesting to hear how he became a leader and how he struggled to remain humble. Also, how he intentionally explored his morals and the legal and spiritual ethics as they pertained to engaging and supporting a boycott to end segregation.
Although no book can encapsulate the entirety of a person, I am enjoying the humanity and context the book gives to this Civil Rights Movement hero, and I love to glean wisdom where I can. I also found it interesting how trying the path he and Coretta Scott King embraced was for their parents.