Who Is to Say Where You Put Your Plant?
As a child, I used to stare out the windows on long car rides, not saying a word and simply getting lost in my surroundings. Not much has changed, I still prefer to sit in silence and stare – engulfing my five senses in the world around me – taking in as much as possible and realizing the expansion of our globe. This might seem a bit contradictory to actually meeting me, as I tend to fill the empty space with speech or comment on just about anything. When in reality, I prefer to sit back and gain insight from the vastly intelligent and inspiring minds around me. I have become accustomed to taking the front seat when I value the back row significantly more.
Have you ever felt so distant that even if you left a breadcrumb trail back to your point of origin, you still couldn’t get home? But why go back home? Is it better than where you are now?
This isn’t meant to be a somber post about ‘finding who you are’ or ‘changing while you’re abroad’ but rather a memoir to who we have been, where we are now, and who we are going to become. Initially, I wrote this blog post entirely focused on the importance of reducing comparison in order to fully appreciate the present. Upon reflection from a day with IPH and discussing what another team saw while in the slums, I want to revise a bit. Comparison is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, comparison is a game of degradation; it can reduce the value of the opportunity existing right in front of you or the journey that led you to arrive where you are currently. Rather than striving to assimilate the culture for your norms and desires, allow yourself to appreciate the current, vibrant, engulfing culture and create new likings. On the other hand, comparison is a reflective tool that can open the eye and promote awareness. While talking to IPH, it was easy to understand the power of our outsider perspective on the Indian traffic perplexity as it can be a helping hand to improve a self-destructive system. If we ignore our upbringings, life prior to entering a LMIC, or anything that could create a sense of comparison, we are ironically reducing our impact we can have on local communities. If you come in with a completely blank mind regarding what your hometown consists of versus the hometown you are exploring, it makes it extremely difficult to pinpoint areas of concern or places to appreciate.
It would only be strange to see a potted plant in front of a tin house, as Kevin pointed out at dinner, if we had our own reality of where a potted plant should be. Who is to say that the plant should or shouldn’t be in front of a tin house? I struggle between the balance of holding a mindset that allows you to forgo comparison or entices you to welcome it. Relentlessly, it might be relieving to consider that maybe there is no answer. Wearing both crowns is extremely possible. Indeed, we are the moving pieces in the game of chess; look up to the sky and the moon is still there – but rather, this time you are on the other side of the globe.