I recently heard a quote by Buddha that goes something along the lines of “if you are lonely, it’s only because you are bored”, and the truth is, I have felt very nostalgic and lonely the past couple of weeks; and though i see SOME truth in this quote, i dont necessarily agree with it (which should explain why i am not a Buddhist), and thus; I am seeking a solution that makes sense to my life!
My best friend….is in San Francisco
My roommate…..is in France
My boyfriend……is in Argentina
And my family…..well…..my family….is all over the world…..
ON THE PHONE…..AND ON THE INTERNET!
This morning (like many mornings), I was awakened by my step-dad’s voice, who called to share thoughts on Poetry, the new book he’s writing, and to have some father-daughter, author-author one-on-one phone time.
Later (the same morning), my grandma called and we spoke for another hour about birthdays, holiday plans, she asked (as she usually does) how I’m doing financially; then she proceeds to worrying about why I’m 25, with no steady “JOB” or medical insurance, then she confesses a few chismes about my aunt and other members of the family, and she ends by sharing her most recent adventures with my baby brother….
Last night, my boyfriend called me from Buenos Aires, we spoke about his weekend in Brazil, shared some thought on his business plan and life goals, I spoke about Salsa Dancing and my growing nostalgia, new poems I still haven’t written; then we expressed missing each other, wishing the other was there, and we hung up with Besos!
My mother sends me anywhere from 3-7 emails a day, each very long and detailed; on logistics, plans, finances, and un-asked-for-advice on life, beliefs, career, and love.
My best friend texts me every once in a while, sends me messages on myspace, posts comments on my pictures, and we leave sporadic voicemails on each other’s phones telling one another how much we miss and desire contact.
AND….i give thanks for ALL these BEAUTIFUL people in my life and the fact that though distance separates us, we are still able and willing to connect on a daily, sometimes weekly basis. And YET as I am writing this, I FIND MYSELF NEEDING MORE!!!
SEEKING PHYSICAL CONNECTIONS!
See, the truth is that sometimes, PHONE is not enough. It just CANT replace visuals, it cant replace intimacy, touch, physical demonstrations of love.. It doesn’t matter if I talk to my grandmother for hours, our conversation could never equate to one of her hugs, seeing a photo of my brother doesn’t compare to seeing him spontanously burst into a smile; my step-dad’s stories are THAT much more interesting when I can see the facial expressions he makes, my boyfriend’s kisses over the phone are not in the same league as the kisses I get when we are spending time together. And so, it’s not that i am bored (like Buddha would suggest), but that my heart and my spirit long for these ways of showing emotion, connection and intimacy.
I know that most of us, are displaced peoples (those of us who are seeking to make it outside of the places we call “home”); and if we are lucky, we live only miles away from our loved ones; others (not-so-lucky), live oceans and continents away from family members; and the most unfortunate ones, cant even communicate via phone or email with their own husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children, due to political or economic reasons, lack of resources such as the internet, affordable and reliable phone services and even legal/residency instability that makes it difficult and almost impossible for them to travel.
So THEN the question becomes:
IN THIS GROWING POPULATION OF DISPLACED INDIVIDUALS AND DISTANT FAMILY MEMBERS, HOW DO WE BRIDGE THIS GAP THAT KEEPS GETTING WIDER? HOW DO WE CONTINUE TO BUILD CLOSENESS? WHAT ARE SOME CREATIVE WAYS FOR US TO BUILD INTIMACY WITH ONE ANOTHER?
I feel guilty at times when i think that my friends know me better than my aunt, or my mother, or my grandmother. These womyn who raised me and love me unconditionally with all the love in their hearts, because of circumstance, this distance that separates us has, over time; become a Great Wall that divides us from truly knowing one another, our immediate family, and surely enough (by default), separating us from our ancestors.
what do i mean by this?
Well, when i think about my life in Cuba, growing up there till i was 8; i knew all of my cousins, and my neighbors; i knew where my great-great-great grandparents came from, i knew where they were burried, the stories and experiences they had would come alive when we would drive down a certain street or neighborhood. I was familiarized with my roots on a daily basis. My cousins and I, we would play together everyday, my aunts would gather on our porch para chismear, and the abuelos would gather to play Domino (and i always wanted to play with them, but because i was a kid, AND a girl, i was NEVER allowed); and all these memories, all these experiences have not only grounded me in who i am, but have also helped sprout this womyn that i am still in the process of becoming.
Will my great-grandchildren KNOW their ancestors?
I get nostalgic when i think about these things and i realize that my children will have a watered down experience of what i had; they will not know Cuba as “home”, they wont feel entitled to claim it as residents, but rather as outsiders, tourist. They will know their cousins as acquaintances instead of friends. They will be shown where their great grandparents lived and were buried, but they will be disconnected from them. And what breaks my heart is that my children’s children wont even have a watered down experience, they may only have drops of if, and their children will have to put in a lot of work and even research to find remnants of their identity, of who I was, their great-great-great grandmother, a womyn of the world, but who’s heart always remained in Cuba.
I BREATHE and I remind myself that everything happens for a reason. I KNOW and TRUST that this is so, and therefore, i dont see it as a coincidence that people who i am closest to and who know me intimately, are all away form me at the same time. I am trying to see this as a gift and as a lesson that will make me a stronger individual, add depth to my relationship to myself and by default, add depth to my relationships with each and every one of them!
Who knows? Maybe the reason they are all far away is so that i could write this Blog, get these thoughts out so i can sort through them, and maybe inspire readers to question their relationships to their ancestors, their loved ones.
Family, Friends, Community are all such an important element in my life that right now i am trying to understand the gift in the distance.
So I humbly disagree with Buddha and agree with him at the same time, I don’t believe that “if you are lonely, it is ONLY because you are bored”, if you are lonely it is because you are human, and you have built beautiful relationships with family, with friends, and with people in your life who’s energy, touch and intimacy you long for when they are not around. And at the same time, I agree with Buddha, in that surely, when we are lonely, we must not dwell in self-pity and get lost in ourselves, that WOULD be a waste of time, a misplacement of energy, and a symptom of boredom; instead, we must engage ourselves and those we love, in finding creative ways to express our love, or writing about our feelings, our thoughts, our truths given life’s obstacles and limitations, after all, it is overcoming those obstacles and growing from them, that bring us closer together.