Tag Archives: france

Allegiance – the European edition

I’m sitting here, nestled between the mountains of central Europe, wondering, ‘wha de rasss I doin hay??’ (Sorry mom, but really – that’s what went through my head and I’m just trying to be honest with the people.) I’m now on the tail-end of what has been a life-changing month of traveling in Europe. The original intent was to attend a Drama Education workshop, plant a flower on the patch of Paddington where Dad’s navel-string is buried,  knock around good old London for a bit, visit a friend in Paris, and come home with the glow of newness, re-energized for life and ready to take on Crop-Over. The actual experience, though, has transcended intent and revealed another dimension to life entirely. Whilst an open mind is a solid foundation for happy travels, some amazing things happen when you travel with an open heart…

  1. You make friends. Real ones.
    It’s not always easy being a creative person – in thought, expression and perspective – especially in a conservative community.Barbados is my paradise home but it doesn’t always ‘get’ me. Bajans are beautiful people but I’ve learned to accept that even as a beautiful Bajan myself, I’m different from a lot of them. I love to reach out and connect with people, but we don’t always speak the same language. It gets tiring sometimes to have to constantly ‘translate’ and I long for moments of understanding, true and common understanding. On this trip, I found that. I made human connections that defied age, race, ethnicity, language, background, class, status, experience and culture. I renewed one golden friendship and made a couple new ones – the kind of friendships that you instinctively know will last always, in one way or another.
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  2. You find affirmation.

    I’m crazy. I’m spontaneous. I’m too ‘spur of the moment’. I’m irresponsible. I’m different. I’m bold. I’m mad. I’m weird. I’m quirky. All these things I’ve been told. As fun as it can be to be me, I sometimes wonder if I’m really going to turn out alright. Kind of ironic that most of the time on this trip, I’ve been the ‘other’, yet it’s affirmed many things about myself that are sometimes problematic. A lot of the time, I’ve been the only West Indian, the only black person, I’ve been the youngest, I’ve been the only English-speaker, the only musician. Perhaps it’s the contrast effect – you know how blue is bluest next to orange? I’m reminded that it’s not just ‘ok’ to be me – it’s a cause for celebration.*
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  3. You find out where your heart is.
    “Home is where the heart is,” it’s said. They also say that “you can never go home again.” I suppose I’ve found that both are true at various times. It’s certainly true that ‘home’ for anyone is defined much more by what is inside you than by what is around you. When you step outside for a moment – outside of your country, outside of your usual mindset, outside of your comfort zone – and the only comforts lay inside you, your core is suddenly and surprisingly distinguishable from all the externals, the people and perspectives that have the most influence on you. The crowd noises are too far away to be heard and your own whispers become shouts and screams. The desires you sacrifice to maintain ‘balance’ are no longer ignorable. The restraints others and you yourself impose aren’t there anymore – you begin to think and act as you truly feel and believe. It can be scary, it often feels unsafe, yet there is no doubt that you are at your freest when your heart is truest ;-).
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  4. You discover that the only bridge between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ is courage.
    Many things are new and you start to exercise your bravery, more out of necessity than anything else. There’s no macaroni pie on the menu, so sure – I’ll have the Erdäpfell-spinat-schafkäseroulade. What do you know – turns out I love sheep cheese. And quiche with goat-cheese. And mountains, and swimming in fresh-water lakes, and dancing to Francophone techno, and a host of other things which required suspension of expectations and activation of courage. After a few days of exercising your courage muscles in everything, down to meals even, you start to become courageous in thought. You think about situations, relationships, dreams and goals, and anxieties. You think about them in ways you never have before. New alley-ways of perspective are suddenly open – you didn’t even realize that fear had rendered them inaccessible. When I get back home, when the familiar is the default, I’m going to challenge myself to choose the option labeled ‘courage required’ a little more often, whether that option is apparent or not. Heck, I’ll invent it when necessary. Extraordinary is well within reach.
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  5. Wine is fabulous.I’m serious.If ever there was a doubt, Alcaeus is verified – in vino veritas. The Europeans are really onto something. I’ve always liked wine, and Bajans bust it out at the special occasions – the artsy-fartsy events, recitals, parties, proper dinners. Some like to have a glass while everyone else is having rum, to distinguish themselves as ‘cultured’ or whatever. In my house, the standard liquid requirement is mauby. Ya caan not got mauby in de cubburd. When tings tight, might not got nuh soft-drinks nor nuh Tampico nor even nuh pine-hill juice tuh offuh, but if you come at me ya know ya cud at least get lil sweet an dandy. And that’s how these folks are about wine. Any and every day, any and every occasion – from sun-bathing on the lake to lazing in the hotel room, dinner, dancing, driving, whatever. You share a glass or two (or bottle or two…) and you’re so relaxed – the guard is down and all company is free to communicate honestly and simply. And honesty and simplicity are key.*
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About 36 hours left ‘til I leave Europe, and I can’t wait to keep living. With these new lessons in the bag, I’m certain that life will be spectacular.