Have you ever been sleeping and your dreams are so vivid that you are unaware that you are dreaming until you wake up? I feel like this has happened to me in a way. I had been living my life in one way and then I woke up and realized through a change in perspective that I should be living differently. I had heard and seen things but they never really hit me so clearly or never made such an impact that it demanded change.
Recently I took a trip to Haiti, and I was not sure what to expect really. I was excited for what was ahead and thrilled at the thought of the unknown. I have traveled to several places within the states and outside the states but my experiences have always been unique. I have always heard of people traveling to such and such place and how it changed their lives forever and they will never be the same again. Then I would travel to the places they mentioned and I wouldn't have the same kind of experience as them and would wonder as to why I didn't get what they "got." I would wonder if I was calloused or no longer sensitive to the things around me and I was alarmed. Though I think it all depends on where you are in your life, how receptive you are to what is going on around you at the time, which people you run into and so forth. It is an accumulation of all those things. I had already been on the cusp of change in my personal thoughts and I had heard a few things over and over so when I ran into these thoughts personified in Haiti it just reiterated what I had been feeling.
I have never really been held captive by status, popularity and all things associated. Though I do have this deep want to be accepted, liked and loved, which I believe we all want to some degree. We find certain things we deem "cool" and then try and exude whatever it is. In "Searching for God Knows What," Donald Miller addresses this intrinsic need we all have to be validated through other people. Miller explains that we seek validation through others because we are actually engineered to have validation through G-d but because of the fall we search for it in other things which ultimately leaves us feeling unsatisfied. Our culture plays on this desire and tells us all the time that we need this or that or we won't be happy or that we will be alone etc etc.
When I traveled just two hours outside of the United States and outside our sometimes toxic advertisements I was hit with the thought that I was perfectly content with having the few objects that I had. Everyone exemplified a simple joy and they just seemed so authentic, which is the only word I can really describe it as. There were no luxuries like heated water from a faucet or air conditioning. No one was obsessed with their facebook or had closets overflowing with clothes and shoes. Yet still they were happy. The Haitians I was with valued time spent with people, education and time for fun, which was all reflected in the way they lived. So many of them had desires and dreams they thought were so big it was silly to even think about them, dreams like being a nurse, an electrician, or a mechanic. Some of the twentysomethings broke down crying when telling us their dreams to one day go to school so they could be things like teachers and doctors. They had all these dreams yet no resources. I on the other hand have all these resources and take them for granted. Where they value furthering their education and building each other up I am worried about having the latest electronics and clothes and making sure I look "cool."
This is just the tip of the iceberg of thoughts I have been having. Let's not mention the kindergarten revelations I had concerning starving children in other parts of the world, their passionate and fervent faith for G-d, and their overall sense of community. I am not slam dunking United States by any means, I love to live here and enjoy several of the amenities offered, but I feel that I miss some of the simplicities of life when I am caught up with trying to win the approval of everyone else.
In some ways it is very clear how I need to change the way I live, other ways are not so clear. I am also very aware of the fact that it is very difficult to change once you become comfortable in your previous way of living. I am not sure if this post/ ramblings will make sense to anyone else, all I know is that I need to awaken from my slumber of apathy and work towards change.