I had a dream the other night. I was standing on the precipice of a cliff and a spirit told me that if I jump from the edge I would fly. I looked up into the heavens, out across the valley and down hundreds of feet into a deep ravine. Without question I spread my arms wide, put one foot over the edge, leaped forward with great momentum, and began to fly. Oh, what a great feeling of freedom I experienced. Weightless, fearless flight.
A couple of weeks ago I participated in an ancient South American ceremony called a despacho. The despacho ceremony is a very special ceremony because it gives one an opportunity to make an offering of gratitude and prayer for the abundance one has or would like to have in her/his life. This ceremony could not have been at a more opportune time. I have so much to be thankful for, and as I take this leap of faith into my future I find that grounding myself in the abundance of support I have in my life is crucial to my sanity. Seriously…I do not think I could make this adventure without being absolutely sure in my heart that what I am doing is right for me and knowing that I have all of you lifting me up and wishing me well makes it all the more possible. I am very thankful for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
What I’ve been thinking about the last few days aside from everything that I have to do to get ready to leave the country for 27 months is my attitude. I’ve been thinking about what kind of attitude I want to bring with me to Azerbaijan and what I’ve come up with is the following:
I want to align with the people in the communities that I will be serving. This does not mean that I have to lose my identity as an American, a liberal, a Yogi-Hindu-Jew-Bu who enjoys full moon parties in the desert with her friends and a bottle of Maker’s Mark, but it does mean that I will have to check some of these behaviors at the border in order to respectfully engage in meaningful relationships. I don’t want to represent Americans as loud, obnoxious people who are unwilling to take a back seat in order to see the perspective of another culture. What would be the point of me going abroad if I do there what I already do here? No, I want to grow, explore sides of myself that I have yet to meet. The attitude that I wish to have is one of complete open mindedness. Even when I am being challenged to my very core, and I know I will be, I hope to be able to take a moment to consider the view from the other side. This culture and its people will be my teachers and I am looking forward to that.
It was not so long ago that the United States was a developing country. It was through perseverance and ingenuity of the people who colonized our country that it has grown into what it is today. Many people in our country have had to struggle to obtain what many of us today think is a natural state of affairs, that being civil and equal rights. It is through the struggles of the people in the past (and those that still struggle in our country today) that people like me are lucky enough to have these rights most of the time. I don’t have grandiose ideas that I will go to Azerbaijan and make huge changes, but I do believe that change is possible, and it is the belief in this possibility that I wish to pass onto the people that I will meet in this newly developing economic landscape.