We sit around this small table that is cluttered with wallets, rolling tobacco, filters papes, a fresh ginger tea, a small sparkling water, two gin tonics and nuts. New faces, new people- smalltalk, rapid fire questions, the usual.
The first question: Who are you? So many words roaming through my head to answer this seemingly innocent, uncomplicated and straight forward questions. Should I utter the long, ambiguous and undefined answer-which is an oxymoron in itself? Or should I propound my ethnicity, country of residence, name? Okay…the name it is; it is simple, short and introduces myself well enough; for starters. Our names- all distinctively different, given to us under different circumstances, each holding meaning, each associated with special traits of character, each a label. Judged- by past experiences the listeners have made with people holding that name. Nonetheless, our name is always what sets our foot in the door: we greet people with our name, we sign off with our name. It is almost omnipresent and so are we.
Where are you from? The two cogwheels are turning, trying to set something into motion, trying to get grip of each other. By ethnicity I am labeled as this, through my country of residence since birth I am labeled as this and inside I am… Neither do I identify as only the one or the other. Does this mean I do not not fit in, do not belong anywhere? No. I am everything- all ethnicities, cultures that I was exposed to, that I grew up in. What I learnt in one, is feared in the other- a woman, a religion, an opinion. What I learnt in each enriched me, helped me grow and flourish. I am both, or none at all. I am a citizen of this planet, this world. I find a piece of myself beyond these, in other cultures, traditions and religions. In this box, trapped and enclosed by walls to constrain this boundlessness, this endless potential. Together- we can bring these walls to collapse. An accumulation of box templates, tiles that slowly move towards each other to create new patterns, transitions- without walls, gaps or limitations. We belong everywhere or no where at all.
Well, what brought you here? A time lapse, in my head. Trying to connect all the small dots that lead me here to a line- a line of decisions and chances. It all started with a movie really, and then I read the novel the movie was based on, diving into this world of fiction and subversion, a mirror of our lives. Then- a sleepless night, spent on the computer, watching videos, reading articles and all of a sudden looking up schools… Out of nowhere, to my disbelief the plane ticket was booked, still not fully aware of the situation, what would be ahead of me, what grounding and self-developing journey I would embark….But now, here I am, seated at this table. Well…First I was shy, then I took the initiative and started talking to this one person and he was friends with the other two, so here we are, gathered around this table- all that connects us or maybe more? I could have been somewhere else if I did not: watch this movie, read this book, was restless and sleepless in bed, boarded this plane. Now- I am assured that we met each other for a reason. I can see a piece of me in each of them. I know that when I leave this table their presence, words and being will have left an impact on me. It all happened for a reason, and shaped me. Us.
We are our journey. We are in flux, ever changing- everything. Everything we want ourselves to be- disregarding labels, boxes and words that limit ourselves. We are boundless. We matter, the place we hold in this world matters. Our actions, voices matter. Together- we are.
A special thank you to Yasmin, Nora and Elisa for sharing their thoughts on this topic, without which this blogpost wouldn’t be what it is now!