There are periods in life, I think, that we are struck by a plague of amnesia.
I wake up in the morning to the sound of my alarm and forget that I am in my room at Davidson, rather I expect to be submerged in a wave somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (my dreams tend to be water-filled these days). When I watch commercials, I forget that I have everything that I need to be content in life and that I am not valued for my possessions. Some days, particularly when I lack sleep, I live in a state of perpetually forgetting my water bottle, my calendar, or my cell phone behind me.
Of course, forgetfulness is a condition caused by more than just a temporary lapse in memory. It is also a symptom of fear. When I am afraid of the future, I leave the present moment, and thus I question who and where I am. Amnesia strikes when I step outside of my core identity as a loved and loving child of God. Without this knowledge, I flounder in uncertainty.
As the past week has taught me, going through periods of disorientation are important for our growth, and necessary for us to deepen our appreciation for life’s ambiguity. They also open us to be vulnerable and confront all that we do not know or control about the future. Most importantly, they send us friends to walk beside us and remind us of our truest selves when we, ourselves, forget. It’s like when I call my sister, or my mom, just to hear the sound of their voice and have them remind me that I am not alone on this journey. As a woman, I believe that sisters and soul mates are life’s most precious gifts.
Like my friend Emily told me last week, we either live in love or we live in fear. Right now, I am looking up at my ceiling, where my best friend, Ela, hung countless hearts on strings. Each day, I wake up and watch them spin, and I remember that no matter what happens before I go to bed that evening, it will all be okay. I just need to keep walking in faith.
“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”
― Paulo Coelho, Brida
This weekend, I attended an interfaith conference where I met new friends and solidified friendships with those who encouraged me to continue my work as an interfaith activist. I remembered that I do interfaith work because I believe in the power of stories, connections, and friendships across lines of difference. I believe that we can learn more about our own traditions from those who share radically different perspectives than our own. I am so glad to be sharing this work with people who are important to me, like Ela.
Ela and I met when I returned to Pearson for my second year and needed a friend. Thankfully, she did too – and we connected over a week of working with fifth grade girls at Sea to Sky Outdoor School. We shared one of the most memorable conversations over a ferry ride and several buses, found leaves to play in, and the rest was history.
Ela is a courageous woman. She speaks with deep concentration, listens with intention, and knits with the fierceness of her whole imagination. She is a weaver of words, a wielder of random acts of kindness, and a wondrous questioner. She has the courage to ask why life is how it is, search history books, and find perspectives from hidden stories. She has been gentle and kind enough to listen to my own story after being the first person to know me home, Pearson, and Davidson. She is a soul mate in the best sense of the word – one who is willing to live from the soul with me, even through the times of uncertainty, and show her love without reservation.
I write this message to wish Ela a happiest of twentieth birthdays. I pray that this decade ushers in a breath of new adventures and memories for her, and that God would continue to send soul mates along her journey who will help her to ask, What would you do if you were not afraid?
Let us begin with loving fearlessly today.