On Tuesday, it poured hail. I’m not joking or exaggerating; if you imagine a massive downpour and then change the raindrops to pieces (balls? bits? I don’t even know the correct terminology) of hail, you get a perfect picture of what happened. Little pellets of ice were pouring from the sky. One coworker joked that it was the beginning of the end of the world; the precursor to what’s supposed to happen next year: 2012.
I was entranced; never before in my life do I recall having seen hail, and definitely not of this epic proportion. Guess I got my Colombian Snowpocalypse after all (only this one was Hailpocalypse). There was, to all intents and purposes, a literal river of melted hail flowing down the street in front of work, and the unmelted hail covered the ground, at a distance looking like a blanket of snow. To me it was a fascinatingly and somewhat hauntingly beautiful sight.
Another coworker told me that because of the hailstorm and the enormous amount of it, there would probably be kids in the parks making “hailpeople” (at least that’s what I’m calling them – like snowpeople, but made out of hail). This got me thinking about how much kids appreciate “the simple things”, like making hailpeople. So this conversation has me thinking…what are the simple (and some not-so-simple, but at least non-material) things I am thankful for?
I am thankful for community. I appreciate so much the building community which I have here in Colombia, and I appreciate equally as much the community which I have with the YAMs spread all around the world and my friends and family in the US. These communities have been my support and encouragement, and so much more. They have stood with me through the difficult times, some have even helped me to process and understand my thoughts and feelings, and they have been excited with me in the good times. They have been what I needed, when I needed them. My community has shown me the importance of solidarity, of accompaniment, of support and love.
I am thankful for loneliness. I know this might sound crazy, but sometimes it takes those moments when I’m feeling isolated to make me appreciate more my moments of community. Being in Colombia can be really isolating, especially thinking about the fact that I’ll be here through the holidays. Today is Thanksgiving, and even though I’ve had time with some of my Colombian community, it makes me nostalgic for my US community and my family. I’m sure the same will happen when Christmas rolls around. However, when I’m most missing my community, when I feel most isolated, are the times when I find I appreciate my community the most. To quote a couple of cliches, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” and “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of taking cliches seriously, and often snarkily recount them in order to mock them. But in the last few months, being separated from much of my community by thousands of miles, I have found both of them to be rather true. And every time I find moments with them, I appreciate what I have even more since they’re no longer immediately available to me.
I am thankful for dissonance. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on how I’ve finally been able to find resolution to a sticky situation by embracing dissonance. I wasn’t positive that I would find resolution from embracing the dissonance at that point, but I have found in the couple of weeks since then that living in the dissonance and loving the dissonance for what it is, I have really found transformation through it. I love dissonance for its haunting and unexpected beauty, and I have a lot to learn from the dissonance in my life.
I am thankful for “embracing the awkward” and awkward embraces. Okay, I mostly love these because they remind me of the other YAMs, but I also appreciate them, too, because they help me to remember that even when life’s just weird, I can embrace it and live life to the fullest, even in the midst of the awkward.
Finally, I am thankful for the year 2011. It has been quite a year, full of a lot of unexpected events, but the most important part for me has been that it has been a transformative year. In spite of, or because of, the ups and downs which I have experienced this year, I feel like I’m coming out on the other end fundamentally changed in many ways that I never could have anticipated in January.