One of the things I tell people when I give talks (which, hint hint, I do whenever and wherever I’m asked) is that when we are still and quiet for just a few minutes in this pesky “now” it feels like a foreign country. A foreign country we are desperate to get out of. There are always newer, ultra high-speed ways to get out of this unfamiliar country and so we keep heading across the border, spinning this way and that and complaining of the bad food and long layovers in-between.
These days I feel a bit as though I am in a foreign country. Certain certainties behind me, and certain uncertainties before me. I am not trying to get out, in fact, I’m quite comfortable that I cannot leave, but I can notice the native soil beneath me.
Last week my dog Molly had surgery to rebuild her ruptured cranial cruciate ligament. We were eager and ready to do this, and eager and ready to bring her home. And now that she’s here I realize I will be too for some time. The recuperative instructions are clear and emphatic: two months in confinement, another two months in incrementally longer walks; assistance here, watchfulness there, judiciousness here there and yonder. This is the kind of circumstance that adds sudden clarity to the fuzzy wondering of what in the world will we do over summer vacation.
While Molly was at the hospital, I spent several nights with my sister, she of the still-broken wrist and ankle. She is every day more agile and resourceful making do with her intact left side, which I imagine to be like learning to drive on the opposite side of the road. Her doctors believe she will be back together at month’s end and although she can’t yet subscribe to that theory I’m sure that she will, if only because as soon as we adapt to the unadaptable, time’s up.
The visit with my sister coincided with the happy occasion of spending two days in Orange County, which never needs a happy occasion for hordes to consider it the happiest place on earth. I spoke at a conference of preschool directors, teachers and parents from across California. When I get to do something like this, which is too seldom for my insatiable ego, it is magical and uplifting for me, me who otherwise sits in confinement next to my sad dog with an ignoble plastic cone encircling her head. It is uplifting because it affirms once more that we have one life, one struggle, one place and one heart. If any of the wonderful people I met should find themselves here – or find themselves anywhere, for that matter – I do hope that they will speak up and say hello.
That’s all that we travelers can do in foreign countries. Make ourselves and each other at home.