This actually happened.
I had an argument with my husband. It was over something stupid, a scheduling thing. The thing we were actually arguing about - our chaotic life and the toll it takes while also giving us tons of freedom - was valid, but it spun off into other territory that was silly.
I pouted. I felt sorry for myself. I cried, even, over the injustice of it all. (While knowing, of course, that this was just a temporary frustration and talking myself through the circles of It matters, it doesn’t really matter, it matters, it doesn’t really matter.)
My husband and I compromised on the issue, kissed and made up, and the sting of some of my own words floated around me for days. I finally got some time to myself and I walked straight into a wall of Sri Lanka. During my wrestle with power and control over our family’s schedule, Sri Lanka hadn’t crossed my mind once.
I’ve been moving so fast since I returned from the other side of the world, I’m only now really starting to process some of the things we saw and learned. While I wasn’t devastated during my first trip to the third world, I wasn’t joyful, either. I won’t write from the Western cliche of how happy “they” are with so little, and how “we” could learn something from them. I would not trade my American comforts for only joy in the simplicity. With all the humanity we have in common, our worlds are too far apart to imagine truly living in the others shoes.
And yet, I think about Mala often. And then I think about how I haven’t had time to really think about her. And then I think about that the reason I haven’t had time in the last two months isn’t for the same reason that she hasn’t had time. And then I feel a deep, heavy sadness.
So I pick up another immediate, busy task so as to distract.
I’m rearranging some things in my heart lately. I’m making physical space - decluttering the closets, deleting apps off my phone - so as to acquire some emotional space. It‘s not unlike cleaning up a hard drive. It’s almost like reaching around for the reset button. It is, dare I say it, simplifying.
I come home from a third world country and I keep it moving. We had a hard year last year that in many unstoppable ways keeps bleeding into the present. It’s simply too much to process except in bits and pieces, over time, in-between snuggles and arguments and houseguests and memories.
Among all of that, standing irritated in my closet, I had to go to the depths of ungrateful to find my gratitude. I have to let myself feel all of it to get to the truth. That's the hardest part.