Sunday, December 9, 2007

the definition of me

April 4, 2006

There are few things comparable to flying into SeaTac Airport when the sun is setting over the Olympics and the Space Needle is shining back at you, and the ferries are making their runs across the Sound to Bremerton and you see them coming and going, and the outline of Mt. Rainier looms like a giant welcome banner in the distance... the San Juan islands cut the Sound into jagged patterns that separate Seattle from the ocean.

No, it isn't California. Or Arizona. The sun definitely isn't here all year round, and there aren't any waves to catch for miles. There aren't any beautiful palm trees, and it hasn't been 80 degrees since early fall.

But flying in last night, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
There just aren't many places like it. You can catch waves many places. You can have sand many places. And palm trees too. My favorite things about places elsewhere. But where can you see a giant metropolitan area tucked between two mountain ranges with green as far as the eye can see?

Where cultures collide and wilderness meets the modern?.... I just appreciated the familiarity I suppose after a whirlwind month that was good, but hard to fit into sometimes.

I feel like I'm kind of in that phase where I'm testing my wings out and I'm not quite sure where I want to go with them yet... I know they'll take me places. I'm just trying to make my beliefs and my life and my faith my own and trying to figure out how I fit into everything else... I know I'm gifted when it comes to music. I know that I'm blessed. I know that I want to see the world. I want to meet the little girl I sponsor in El Salvador, and the boy I sponsor in Peru, and the boy Usengimana that I write to in Rwanda...

I want to see how people live in worlds different than mine. I want to play guitar in Argentina while sipping mate and studying for classes... I want to teach English as a second language. I want to backpack from Spain to Greece and spend three months doing it. I want to change things.

It all started at the top of one of the Alps.

We had been touring together for two months, traveling across 20 states and 3 provinces, singing a concert every night to get us to where we were... and we found ourselves on top of Santis... one of the Swiss Alps that marks the beginning of the giant chain of mountains. I stood precariously on top of a rock that marked the highest point I could reach. I stood up, and I spread my arms out wide (like the picture of Brittany and I that made it onto a Jones Soda bottle). On one side of the world, there was a plateau of villages, and to the other there was a sea of mountaintops... each one seeming to hold its own secrets.

I was talking to a friend the other night about what defines our lives... if you could pick one moment that would define who you were and what you stood for... one moment that would set your life apart... what would it be?

For me, that was it. The world was at my feet. And I do mean that literally.

There's more to life than a GPA and a good job, and making money. Those are good things, and I want them. But I want things that are more important. I want to go back to Venice and walk across the Rialto Bridge again and listen to a man from Hungary play Spanish music on his guitar (yes I did that). I want to learn languages. Learn people. Learn how they live, how they breathe, what they value, who they want to be. I want to let a little girl in El Salvador know that someone thousands of miles away loves her enough to pay for her school, and food, and clean water, and vaccinations, and to write her letters.

All this does tie together, I promise.

Arizona helped me a lot. It helped me find out who I want to be. I don't have to be the person everyone else wants. I don't have to make a grade or worry about disappointing anybody. I just have to be myself, and make myself well-rounded and aware and educated. I just have to love more. Live more. Laugh more. Flying into Seattle last night, I realized that this is home to me now. But I'm still going places. I'm going back to Spain to dance in the Mediterranean with kids from Valencia again. I'm going back to Switzerland to see the market at Andelfingen and the way the sun sets over the Alps.

And as much as the Northwest is gorgeous and beautiful, and like no place on earth... I'm going to see the rest of the world. And I'm going to change it.

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