There’s a kid that lives in the apartments behind us, who has quite some rockstar ambition.  He is about 17 years old, wears skinny jeans, plays the guitar and walks his pug dog. He is an absolute delight to watch.  He stands in a garden area, with or without the dog, with or without his guitar, and he sings away.  Complete with dance moves and pretend microphone in hand.   He happens to have some form of intellectual handicap, which one I’m not sure.  But that is beside my point.

The kid delights in what he is doing.  He doesn’t care about who may or may not be watching him or hearing him.  He obviously loves to sing and play the guitar, so sing and play the guitar he does.  Rain, hail and sunshine.  He is out there.

A couple of weeks ago he had to run for his life because he nearly missed his schoolbus, he was so engrossed in his rockstar performance that the time got away on him.

I have no idea if he has any real talent – I can’t hear him from where I stand in my kitchen, doing the dishes and watching him.  But I love how he has no inhibitions.

I point him out to my kids, not to poke fun at him, but as an example of how wonderful it is to just do what you love to do, and not care what people think.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all just did what we loved, and didn’t care what people thought?

And wouldn’t it be great if we all did things for an audience of one?  The One who really matters?

(This is my rockstar, not the one mentioned above – this one never plays for anyone!  Not yet anyway!)

On being shaped by what we know

We’ve been back in the States now for three weeks, after going ‘home’ for an amazing 17 day holiday.  It was such a gift to be able to see loved friends and friends, to show off the new addition, to be around all things that are comfortable and familiar.  It was amazing.  And it has been hard to come back, to what is essentially supposed to now be home.

Coming back has meant that the things we like about being here are even more appreciated – things such as NO time spent stuck in traffic, half and half on my oatmeal, how cheap it is to clothe the family, and the joys of couponing.  But the things that we find hard about life here, seem even harder, and harsher.  And it’s not that we want to judge or criticise, and it’s not that we have a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ mentality.  Because we don’t.  We are definitely glass half full type people, and we know there are trials and hardships no matter where you live, no matter what community you’re in.  There is no perfect life, but we do our best to make the best of where we are, and what we do and what we have.

But you know what?  I’ve come to the conclusion that if you have only ever lived in one culture, then it is not often you stop to question the whys of that culture.  And it’s not often you think there could possibly be a different or a better way.

And sometimes, just sometimes, there is a better way.

For me, I have to observe a lot of differences with life here.   Which is surprising as it’s not like we’ve moved to a country where they speak a different language or anything.  Only, sometimes they do.  And sometimes I do.

And I have to reign in my feelings on these differences, and not judge, but work out…..but why?

A friend of mine is in the last trimester of her pregnancy and is nearly but not quite on bedrest.  She’s asked for help, I’ve offered, she’s then said it would be weird having a friend help, and I’ve said from where I come from that’s what people do.  They help each other out.  She’s said it’s a cultural thing here – people don’t like to accept help. I think I’ve consumed some kind of truth serum lately because I then said ‘suck it up, let’s change things’.  She still hasn’t pinned me down for a day to go around to actually do anything.  What’s a friend to do?  In this instance, I can’t stand the fact that the status quo is to sit back and do nothing.  I can’t stand the fact that she would consider paying someone to help, when I can and would do it for free, for love.  I can’t stand the fact that it being a cultural thing is, in this case, an excuse.  A handy excuse.  But an excuse.  This is a perfect example of where being open to change, of being open to new ideas and new opportunities would actually be beneficial for someone and for me to do my bit to try to create a bit of community around me.

We are shaped by what we know.  And in most cases this is good and well and works.  Why rock the boat baby?

But what happens when what we know limits us?  What happens when our worlds could be better by embracing new ideas, things that other cultures and communities can offer us, things that can add to our lives?

Change is hard.  Change makes you stand out sometimes.  Change sometimes means doing things that others don’t ‘get’.   Sometimes this is good.

We need to know more.  We need to look outsides of ourselves, and our little circle of influence, and to broaden our worlds.

So my challenge is to not settle for ‘this is the way it is’.  But to also not judge and criticize others for the way they live – because what they know is limited and shaped by what they know.  And if they haven’t had the chance to travel, to live elsewhere, to speak with others from all walks of life, then of course they don’t know what they are missing out on.  Tricky huh.

We need to decide by July whether we want to apply to extend our visas or not.  It is a huge decision, even bigger than our decision to move here.  We know what we’re in for if we stay.  We are shaped by what we know.  Our biggest challenge here is lack of community, lack of people around us.  Maybe at the end of our time here I will have become a community expert – but I doubt it.  How much heartache is it going to take?

We are shaped by what we know, and sometimes what we know is not enough.