Fear is a powerful force. Fear coupled with ignorance is a paralyzing and effective tool. I can think of countless nights I have spent frozen in my bed, listening to nameless noises outside my window. My mind and heart racing, frantic terror creeping in from every corner, and every horrible thought and story from a lifetime of news programs, Law & Order episodes, and a (slightly) over active imagination. Fear has the power to conquer and rule over us.
I had an opportunity to live in Mexico in the Spring of 2006. It seemed everywhere I turned, someone had a story of corrupt government, drug lords, kidnapping and ransom, and bodies of Americans found buried in the desert. Determination and my rebellious spirit outweighed my fears, and I finally made it to Mexico. Los Ayala is a small farming and fishing community on the Pacific Coast, and it was a safe haven for me. I was surrounded by beautiful, smiling faces, laughing children, and curious adults. The love and friendship they showed me in the short time I was there, opened my eyes and I slowly learned to replace my fear with love.
Today I want to share with you a post by Karen M. from Mackin Ink. Karen lives Jordan with her husband and three daughters. Her blog is beautiful, funny, thought-provoking, and absolutely brilliant in every way.
A Love Letter
there's no place like home. there's no place like home. there's no place like...
i've been homesick. achingly exceedingly homesick. because there's no place like it, right? home is, after all, where your heart lives. and my heart lives in america.
but i've been asked to list what i love about the place i currently call my home. jordan. so i started thinking. about here and there and somewhere over the rainbow. this is what i love...
i love the endless stream of wide-eyed visitors. especially americans. when we meet by chance, i always fight the urge to pat them on their backs, tell them i'm so very proud of them. for choosing jordan over hawaii. or disney.
because this is an awfully long way from home, and it must take no less than heaps of courage to travel to a place nearly all your friends advise you to avoid. i love these travelers on sight because i just know that their heads and hearts are overflowing with greatness. optimism. enthusiasm. and an unwavering faith in the world.
it's worth it, an adventure to jordan. it's so worth it. there's a reason why petra is one of the new seven wonders. if you ever lose your sense of awe, if you ever stop believing, or if you find yourself unmoved by the sheer beauty of the world...come. you'll find it all again in petra.
but is it dangerous? always, always, this is the first question i'm asked about our life in jordan. truly? i'm in constant awe of the safe haven this country offers. especially when you consider the rough neighborhood in which she lives.
to me, jordan's like that house on your childhood street. the one where the parents were cool, and where all the kids wanted to hang out. the one where everyone was welcomed with open arms. no one would dare misbehave at that house, lest they be asked to leave.
do you remember what it feels like to wholeheartedly adore...admire...trust those who keep the care of your country? i absolutely love the love jordanians have for their king and their queen. in every shop, there hangs at least one photograph of king abdullah. sometimes with his queen, rania. sometimes with his children. sometimes alongside the king's daddy, as esme calls the beloved late king hussein. every shop. every. shop.
don't be fooled. this is not a blind faith. it's not. it's an unwavering faith. and i envy it.
do i feel safe? i've been known to grab my girlies upon arrival in the states, put my face smack in front of theirs, and, through clenched teeth, deliver a warning that scares them and anyone else who happens to hear...don't you dare leave my side and don't you dare talk to strangers and if someone tries to steal you scream with all the screams in your little bodies and just keep your heads down and don't make eye contact with anyone BECAUSE WE ARE NOT IN THE MIDDLE EAST ANYMORE, GIRLS!
jordan, you make me think. you make me feel. you make me see. and, for the first time in my life, you make me question.
i used to see the world through my television, while i snacked on one point of view like candy. because we didn't have satellite, much less cable. and now? jordan, you have changed my view.
from the dudes at the fish counter who laughingly scare the girlies with octopus and eels, to the men on our corner who run to sell us lillies and roses as we drive by...and still keep their smiles even when we tell them not today...to the girlies' friend at the make-up counter who always gives them samples. her hair is covered, and she dresses modestly. traditionally. but all i see is a woman with my three-in-the-making, giggling together over glosses and shimmers. gets me every time.
there are the iraqis, who've lost it all and desperately hope to find it again in jordan, just until they can return to their homes. trying so hard to create new lives, all the while with that unmistakable look in their eyes. i'm not sure how to describe it, but i know it when i see it. believe me.
and then there's the dentist who rescued lillie's front tooth. it had chipped right in half. we chose him from a list of names, and met him at his office just thirty minutes later. it was his holy day, and his home was full of lunch guests, but he took all the time in his world to soothe a little girlie and make sure she'd smile beautifully again. he talked as he worked, and mentioned he was from palestine.
do you visit a lot? lill asked brightly. because she is the master of small talk, but painfully unaware that there can never be small talk when it holds a sizeable word like palestine.
i can't...i don't go back, he told her with some kind of wistful smile. someone else is living in my home. so my home is now jordan.
my homesickness is ridiculous next to his.
all the people we've met, all the families who've adopted us...they've each taught us something important. i once hoped that this time in this region would help to show my girlies that they are just like us. and now? my hope is that my girlies see that there is no such thing as they. or us. it's we.
jordan, you break my heart. which may be a good thing, if home really is where your heart lives. makes it easier to be two places at once.
Thank you, Karen, for showing love instead of fear, and bringing understanding where there is ignorance.
Happy weekend, everyone!