I'll never forget the first moment when my perspective shifted. That moment when I first knew, as a young teenager that I was NOT, in fact, the center of the universe. I was standing along side some temple ruins on a hilltop in Greece, looking out at the most spectacular vista I had ever witnessed. And I knew in an instant that I was little more than dust in the wind. The odd thing about the shift was that this understanding of how infinitesimally small I was compared to the expanse of all space and time, filled me NOT with a sense of INsignificance, but with a sense of purpose. Of destiny. And of importance.
As I look back on my life since that moment, it is the things that renew this humility deep inside of me that also fill me with the most gratitude. Having had the chance to live over seas, to make my home in a 'foreign' land, is one such experience. It's not the simple, day to day "humiliations" that made this journey such a rich one...though there are plenty of those when you choose to live life while speaking a foreign language in a far off land. No. It is the lesson I learned repeatedly while in Europe: there's no one right way. We have a tendency, perhaps especially as Americans, to think that what is familiar, or what works for us, is the best solution for everyone. It is truly awe-inspiring to learn about other cultures and come to understand a frame of reference that is alien to our own....to come to believe - not just intellectually, but also viscerally - that there are many answers to some of life's most basic questions. And that learning from one another will only ever serve to better us all.
Parenting had, and continues to have, the same effect on my soul. What an irrational honor and responsibility to have the lives of little humans placed into our hands. Just looking into my children's eyes can bring me back, metaphorically speaking, to that hillside in Greece. How has this miracle landed in my path? How will I ever manage, unschooled and ill-equipped as I am, to guide their journey? Faced with this task I have felt so marvelously insignificant and so wonderfully vital. Simultaneously. What a humbling journey we share, this parenthood journey. May we genuinely share this journey, and find strength along the way as we learn from each other.
When I came across this photo of my two little ones at the very bottom of the giant Eiffel Tower, it seemed to capture this feeling of being infinitesimally small, and yet profoundly significant at the same time. Look at their joy. The innocence and capriciousness. They are care-free and unaware of the greatness above them. They explored, discovered and gave themselves wholly to the moment in front of them, only later coming to understand the significance of this early part of their journey.
Thank you, mountain top in Greece. Thank you, Paris. Thank you, my darling children. Thank you for giving me a delicious taste of this dish known as humility. I am always hungry for more.
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