On Saturday I leave for a work assignment that will keep me in Europe (Bulgaria, Slovakia, Greece, Switzerland) for about eight weeks. Most of that time I’ll be in a tiny town in Bulgaria where the university I work for offers undergraduate business programs. I don’t know if you’ve ever decided to do something so far outside what you’re used to, to be in a place (physical or felt) so different than any place you’ve been. If you have, you’re probably braver than me. I am not brave.
I am lucky that in a couple of these places, there are people I love a lot. Friends. The chance to spend time with them is one reason I’m going; the other is that as part of this whole experiment with change I made a promise to myself to say yes more. When I was at Blue Lake a few weeks ago, staring out over the water at the basalt cliffs, eating cold leftover spaghetti from the best restaurant in Soap Lake for lunch, trying to remember the place from my childhood without a lot of success, I thought about fear. Recklessly beautiful, that’s the phrase Blue Lake brings to mind; I don’t understand how someone who grew up around there could wind up scared of everything. People out there jet ski, water ski, ride motorcycles, climb, hunt, fish, camp, fire their homemade cannons into the glacier-cut rock faces for dog’s sake and speaking of dogs, when one of theirs is old and sick and beyond help they’ll shoot it themselves and feel it’s a mercy, so how could I have grown up scared of everything?
Well. Maybe I’ve done a few things that’d scare some, like get an education, sit with a schizophrenic man who thought he was Jesus, help a woman leave her abusive husband, live in a city, travel. Read. Learn. Love recklessly. Believe there’s more to life than what I inherited.
What will saying yes to eight weeks away bring, make happen? A friend of mine today reminded me of the first Slovak word he taught me: uvidime. It means, we’ll see.