It's officially official that, as of today, we have been abroad for one month.
I would like to take this moment to say that, while I wish ever-so-deeply to be the sort of person who up-and-leaves the country and takes all the challenges in stride, I am not that person every day. And while I'll still claim to be a restless, nomadic sort of spirit, there is nothing like leaving what you know for a perpetual unknown to clarify that the essence of physical stability is really a very great part of mental stability.
However, with that confession done, I feel obligated to also add that I consider this ever-present and incredibly humbling reminder that hangs over my head every morning and evening, one of the greater privileges I've seen in my life. In the last month, I have felt terrifically small and terrifyingly alive. My mind does little wandering because there is so much to see and be a part of at present; and I can't tell you how much a gift that all feels. On the outside, the privilege appears these experiences we are living--the sightseeing, the experimenting, the freedom--and I will admit there is truth in that. But I know that the most resounding parts of this month, the parts I will carry with me moving forward will be the revealing difficulties, the challenges, and all the grace afforded us in those moments of shortcoming.
In a way, it's like our climb upon the rocky cliffs that jut out between the harbor and the sea in Collioure (which is a town that, should you ever have the chance to visit, I would readily recommend). The winds are ghastly and the waves seem rougher than usual for the Mediterranean. You look straight down at the whitewater crashing against the sharp stone, and even in its violence, the first thought is, "My goodness, the water is really as blue and clear as all those magazine photographs depict." It was a delicious, honest kernel about a thing that seemed to good to be true.
Maybe I have learned that about myself. Maybe it was a very big deal for me to come on this adventure and try to be the person I like to fancy myself. For all that wanderlust and yearning for something super-ordinary, I must admit, actually taking the steps to uproot our lives into this exotic experience was one of the scarier things I've done. Of course, there are challenges to this lifestyle, and uncertainty is always a fear factor. But deep down, the truly worrisome part was always that I would fail myself. That all this time, I've been saying I'm a certain sort of person, but when push came to shove, I might not have the follow-through.
The most difficult days have told that lie: I'm not able to stomach the hardship and this weakness speaks to some deep, hidden part of my identity. This is the violence in me. This is the tendency to berate myself with self-doubt, self-hatred. Because the honest kernel about a thing that seemed to good to be true? It's that I'm strong, and I'm up for the challenge. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be here. There will be very, very hard things about all this, because that's the nature of anything good. And really, while hard things expose your weaknesses, it's true, they're a lot more apt to showcase your strength. Those rocky cliff take wave upon wave, and maybe small pieces of them wear way; but they're trustworthy and sound enough to bear bridges and churches and human beings.
I've lost pieces of my heart at different points in life, some rubbed away, some freely given; but the remaining pieces, they've stood strong enough for a well-lived life.