Isolation Versus Curiosity
June has been a challenging month. The concept of humanity, and what it means to be human and humane, has been front and center in our national psyche. I would venture to say that our rumination and struggles are also front and center internationally as countries around the world watch the United States struggle with who we want to be.
Like many, I am grateful to have my work to throw my mind into, a refuge where I can stimulate my curiosity and resilience, as I work to innovate and problem-solve in an industry I love. For me personally, travel is a real-life metaphor for the personal growth I hope to drown myself in for the rest of my days on this planet. I never want to think that I know all there is to know about people, places, situations, languages and cultures around this fascinating globe upon which we all reside. It is the fact that I never will understand or experience all of it, that keeps my mind in a state of youthful wonder about all of the facets, both good and bad, of international travel, communication and shared experiences. I believe this hungry fixation I have upon the restlessly vibrant power of travel and international connections, is the single greatest legacy my mother and grandmother stamped in permanent ink upon my forehead.
The best analogy I can construct, is the hiatus I experienced from my professional life after becoming a mother. I would not trade for an instant the incredible privilege I had to step out of the workforce for years while my three children were small. It was an opportunity that many take for granted, but I have learned to recognize, with gratitude, how it grounded the foundation of my relationship with three fabulous human beings. The isolation I felt, however, being defined only by the success of my performance within the walls of my family’s home, is also a memory I choose not to relinquish. I have never been comfortable creating a protective bubble around myself, separating me from the bigger world. Such protectionism is essential and practical while raising and nurturing small children, but as we mature into adults, it serves only to lessen and strip us of our ability to put ourselves into a stranger’s viewpoint, reality, plight or shoes.
I also chuckle at the antediluvian notion of retirement; the notion that all of one’s life should lead to a life of inactivity and seclusion. I can happily declare that I will never be able to retire, not only from a financial standpoint, but from the point of view of my identity. I hope to continue to engage, debate, travel, attempt, fail, and start again, in an endless cycle of repeat and reset, until I leave this planet. It is this reassessing and reinventing of ourselves which keeps us human, needing others and allowing them to need us. As I watched families torn apart and placed in cages over the last few weeks, I know that the country of my ancestors is the country that never stops evolving, growing, and welcoming not only those in need, but those who have enthusiasm and determination to offer, and those who hold a different point of view from our own. The spirit in that drive for something better for one’s children is the stuff of dreams and legends, but more importantly, the fabric of the gown which distinguishes our country at the ball.