Sunday, April 13, 2014

global thoughts in coffee shops

When you've been in one specific place for a certain amount of time, you often find yourself feeling almost too at home, if that is possible.  You stop making the conscious effort to be awed by the beauty of the landscape, impressed and inspired by personalities of locals, and even accustomed to the taste of what used to be foreign delicacies; we let the comfort and familiarity of a place halt our desire to learn more.  Fortunately, breaking out of this funk is easier than you may think if you ever find yourself slipping into a mundane routine which used to be new and exciting.  Nobody ever said life has to get boring; there is no quota for the amount of adventure to be had in one place.

Since this was my second time back in Scotland, I was so excited for all of the familiarities, all of the nuggets of knowledge and wisdom gained from my last trip that left a lasting impact, turning Stirling into my second home.   I was almost more excited for things I already knew, not the things still left to be discovered: real coffee from the Burgh, daily UniLink trips to campus, seeing the Wallace Monument every time I look outside, and conversations to be had with friends in the chaplaincy every Thursday night.  These are all good things, happy things, routine things that define the word "home."

There is nothing wrong with identifying "home" as "other," because being able to do so is a blessing; but it also means we forget there is still so much to be learned in that place, and so much more adventure to be had.  The trick is to change your outlook and ask: "What can I learn about myself, someone else, or some random fact about this place today? What new store or street can I discover? How else can I embed my heart, mind and soul in this culture?" I found that adopting this mantra pushed me to search for new experiences where it seemed like I had learned all I could possibly learn - but we never know everything.  There is always something to be discovered, we simply need to stop allowing ourselves to let the feeling of "home" blind us from those new discoveries.

This past Monday I found myself quietly meandering down a narrow alley situated by Molly Malone's, Stirling's own Irish pub.  With slight hesitation, but a heart infused with adrenaline, expectant of discovery, I entered the back room of a music shop.  The room's perimeter was draped with fairy lights, illuminating the orange walls scrawled with murals and writing.  The room was filled with young, old, foreign and local residents, a bevvy in hand and a smile upon their faces as they enjoyed the poetry of talented Stirling writers.  Just when I thought this place couldn't get any cooler, I was fooled again.  And inspired to do a little creative writing of my own.

Search for something new every day.

Echoing Truth

Reminders remain
in the foreign, in the same
the music from
an old friend plays
embellishing the background - 
and she twirls,
familiar lights flashing upon
her heels, childhood remembered.

The warm mug rests,
cupped in a worn-out palm
reading Psalms,
looking for God
in coffee grounds.

The wrinkled pages
recognised beneath
ink blots and
commonplace thoughts,
echoe adventures 
prescribed from the map
on the wall,
screaming: "listen to your call."

You can't find comfort
if you look for it alone,
you can't find yourself 
in the vast space
of a falsely distant land
mirroring home,
old and new - parallel,
reflecting truth.

It's there, always will be
and will never leave.


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