Parting with Familiarity

22 Oct

A friend of mine recently submitted the new featured quote for this Gypsy Woman blog.  Her chosen theme couldn’t have been more timely… or appropriate.  It’s message is, simply, that if we want to grow we will have to part with some things we are attached to… including, and at its base, habits and ways of life that are familiar to us.

While I admit there is nothing wrong with a gentle dose of familiarity… sometimes our cherished habits and ways of being can set limits on our dreams, goals, wishes and desires.  After nearly four years of international travel, parting with familiarity has in its own way become familiar to me. But still, it seems that each new destination requires that I strip off a layer of familiarity in the name of my own growth and development.

The larger truth of this gypsy escapade is that growth has become a lifeline for me, a required text for this course in my life.  And while for me there are elements that are UNCOMFORTABLE as I face each new experience and circumstance, it is undoubtedly true that without this discomfort… I would not grow…

I write this presently with an equal doses of pleasure in the foreignness of my new surroundings coupled with the inevitable sense of loss that comes with departing more familiar scenery.  Each day in Vienna offers somethings new and inviting, but simultaneously are daily entanglements with my losses of familiarity. After living in South Korea for nearly two years, Vienna comes with certain comforts for this American bent mind. Most notably, it offers an alphabet I can recognize and a culture that is more at ease with speaking English. But oddly enough, in many ways Korea too became familiar to me… and so that is swimming in my pool of loss, change and growth.

New to me on this journey is studying a language. I am taking a German course!  So far on this international road I have found it quite possible to travel many places speaking only English.  More and more, it seems English is a global language.  However, when the opportunity to take a German class while in Vienna was presented, I thought it was a no-brainer to finally take a leap and explore a new level in my travel.  The idea of speaking another language has always appealed to me… it is the practicality of it, the sea of new words and rules and my adult English-formed neural pathways, that always seemed to get in my way…

After five ultra beginner German classes, I am already knocking loudly on the door of unfamiliarity.  My instructor shared just the other day that to speak German we will slowly have to let go of our own language… and not try to translate every word from German to English as often… you can’t. When first she said this I felt a little panic like being asked to give up a favorite childhood toy or blanket.  But as I relax more with the German sounds and phrases we learn in class, I can see this makes good sense.

Unfamiliarity and foreignness do have an allure and charm of their own. There is the innocence in exploring a new language and land.  The child-like pleasure of learning to count to ten again and communicate the simplest of things in a new way.  The simple pleasure of doing ordinary things, like going to the grocery store and finding new foods or spending new money.

In my present circumstances, I am living with and assisting a family with the care of their child and family life. This too in many ways is unfamiliar. In my past years of wandering, I have taught the youngest of students and at times lived in community with a wide array of “others”.  As most of my adult life has been independent living and the past four years a gypsy, family life lives in the realm of unfamiliar. It is new to me to sit next to my new young German-speaking friend and let her head rest on my lap as she trickles tears and wipes her nose after her mom and dad leave her alone with me for the first time.  And still new to me to find my place, be of service, and meet my own needs within the life and patterns of an established family, generous and giving as they are.

So this new beginning, as the others have been, is met with the push and pull of growth and loss… joy and challenge.  And for now, for this moment, I am content with the balance of the two.  After a lovely morning attending my german class, and now some quiet time in the afternoon to write, do yoga, drink tea… I am delighting in the balance.

How about you?  Any stories of growth to share?  Any new explorations being met with resistance?  If you’d like to share, it’s always great to hear from you!

I was told yesterday would be the last warm day until April.  Yikes!  I woke up today to grey skies and chilly temperatures.   Good-bye for now from the newly fall weather and historic streets of Vienna.

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