I read this amazing poem by David Whyte and felt as if God dropped it right out of heaven. I especially felt drawn to the line,
“Give up all the other worlds except to the one to which you belong.”
It’s no secret to anyone that in 2010 when we uprooted from Logan, Utah, and came to Minnesota for Dean’s new job, it was only a matter of time before I felt completely lost to myself. I didn’t understand how to adjust to the layers of culture here in a way that allowed me to feel as if I belonged anywhere. These layers include:
- Small town culture but a small town on the far edge of the Twin Cities with access to plays, music, sports, parks and all kinds of activity if you just hop in the car and drive an hour or so.
- Scandinavian culture where the concept of “Minnesota Nice” comes from. The hardest part of this was the aversion to eye contact and not greeting people when you pass them in a hallway. Well, not really, the most difficult part was the passive aggression that is honestly just normal here and people don’t let it bother them too much. Everyone participates in passive aggression to some degree but Minnesota’s version is often very hard on outsiders unfamiliar to it.
- The Lake Culture: This means you live in a neighborhood that empties out most weekends throughout the summer. Few fireworks explode on your street over the 4th of July.
- The Commuting Culture: This means that people go to bed very early because they get up very early. I’m used to it now but at first I could hardly believe how many people drove anywhere from 20 minutes to almost 2 hours to work and back every day. Having only done that once and when we lived in Utah, my commute was shear beauty for me. I drove straight toward the Wellsville Mountains and was always treated to whatever nature had to share with me. It was more spiritual than drudgery so the idea of driving through traffic like they do here almost made me feel sick. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about the fossil fuel consumption, the air pollution etc. No longer something I think too much about because it is just life here and I’d have gone completely crazy if I’d of not adjusted.
In addition to these adjustments I was also going through the acclimation process one’s body goes through moving 3 degrees north in latitude from where one has lived most of her life. The seasons are incredibly distinct here and almost totally follow the equinox for each one. Winter is utterly brutal and unrelenting. There are more cloudy days here than I ever imagined possible except for Seattle or Portland. And the trees…omg…the trees. We lived in a forest and even though we removed half the trees on our property, every summer when the trees would leaf out our entire house was as dark as if it were a winter day. This wide open spaces woman began to feel caved in. Moving into a newer development with small trees has made a big difference for me in that our house faces south which means that we get whatever sun is out there streaming in our windows all year. So, after 6.5 years I am finally feeling more acclimated but the winter remains a challenge for me.
Health problems and a forced retirement were pretty much the last straw for me where this move was concerned. I would say that in every way, I have struggled to belong here and I think that is the reason why David Whyte’s words stood out to me so much. It would be utterly impossible to completely “give up the worlds where I don’t belong” here in Minnesota because trust me when I say, Minnesota is a thick culture and the people here love being Minnesotan more than just about anything else. I have been here long enough to have seen below the surface and I do genuinely love many people and much about their lives here. Adjusting to so many changes at once though has made it very difficult for me to remain centered and able to participate in the worlds where I know I actually belong. After reading this line from David’s poem and not being able to stop thinking about it, I sat down and wrote the following gems that have come out of the last several years of refinement in my life from the many things I’ve been through. I’ve learned SO much that it was time to get the lessons out there for myself. The experience proved to be very clarifying and reorienting so I just wanted to share them in writing for those who’ve walked with me as I’ve gone through this season. I’m sure you know who you are.
The World Where I Belong
The world where I belong is any world where I’m communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.
The world where I belong processes past, present and future simultaneously and understands that really everything belongs.
The world where I belong is one that does not control the life on another, it allows the other to exist as they are while encouraging grace, growth and personal responsibility so the other can flourish as they choose to, with or without me.
The world where I belong creates beauty and prepares places for myself and others to enjoy.
The world where I belong values life from conception to the grave, the life under every color of skin, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity in every place, at all times.
The world where I belong enlarges the spaces for others to do what THEY are uniquely called and gifted to do.
The world where I belong loves others but does not succumb to their trauma manifested in abuse of any kind or in anyone’s attempt to control me in any way.
The world where I belong to is beautiful, full and meaningful. It sees hope in the future because youth are always able to change the world.
The world where I belong is an abundant and generous place where light overcomes darkness.
The world where I belong finds me at home with the poor, the middle and the wealthy because I accept capitalism’s strength and weaknesses while at the same time do my best to level the playing field where I can.
The world where I belong loves the earth, the sun, the galaxies and is committed to learning new ways to take care of it because I am in constant awe of it all.
The world where I belong is full of rich, heart connected friendships with people of all ages.
The world where I belong is with my husband and children as healthy adults doing their best in the world. It is with aging parents offering supportive care as I am able.
This is the world where I belong.