Rooted and Unsettled

Over the last two weeks I’ve been traveling around the Midwest and Texas, playing pickleball exhibition matches, giving lessons and selling paddles. I’ve driven over 2,000 miles and worked 7 days a week. It’s been a fruitful, tiring and long trip.

As I’ve traveled, I’ve gotten to reconnect with my extended family across the region. I’ve stayed with aunts & uncles, second cousins, first cousins once removed – you name it. I love getting to meet these people as an adult, learning about how I’m connected to them and the interesting tidbits about our family tree.

It’s fascinating to me how rooted my family is in the United States. For at least 5 or 6 generations on each side, my entire family was born here. That goes back into at least the 1800s. Many have been here much longer than that. I have slave-owning ancestors in Georgia. There are abolitionists Arkansas. As legend has it, I have native American blood from Oklahoma. I get the sense of being rooted here, like I should belong because my family has so much history.

So what the heck happened to me? I barely qualify as American and although I have history, when asked where I’m from I don’t always answer America. It’s more complicated than that. I often wish for the simplicity of being from a single place. I wish I could be content never leaving, able to invest my life somewhere. I would know people, have unquestioning resolve in what I believe and listen to the global news with a concerned but uninvolved interest. I wouldn’t have any skin in the game. I wouldn’t have to answer the question, “Where should I live?” because it would be answered for me and other questions like “what should I do” and “who should I marry” would follow easily. When eating a banana in America I wouldn’t have to think about how much better it was in Africa. Life would certainly be simpler being from one place; not necessarily better, just simpler. Yet for one reason or another, that is not my story.

It makes me think of this quote:

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

It is hard knowing people around the world. Yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything – It’s now on my bucket list to know someone from every single country. People are the same everywhere, but the hardships and struggles that they have overcome in some places are baffling. After hearing those stories, you can’t ever go back to not caring about what happens in other places.

One last comment. I recently listened to a book called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche from Nigeria. What a cool name. Anyway, it made me laugh thinking about the funny quirks of Africa and how similar African cultures are. It also made me think about what it means to be an immigrant and the value of knowing more than one place. I would definitely recommend it, as in many ways it mirrored my own experiences.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading

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12 Quotes

I started collecting quotes over 10 years ago. Call me a nerd but I enjoy reflecting on how they’ve spoken to me at various points in my life. Here are some that have influenced my journey in recent years

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned the hard way that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle or end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”

– Gilda Rodner

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”

– Donald Miller

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

– C.S Lewis

 

“An old Cherokee told his grandson, ‘My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness and truth.’ The boy though about this and asked, ‘which one wins?’ The old man quietly replied, ‘The one you feed.'”

“He soon felt that the fulfillment of his desires gave him only one grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. This fulfillment showed him the eternal error men make in imagining that their happiness depends on the realization of their desires.”

– Leo Tolstoy

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and wisdom, blended in good measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest moment.”

– Sir Winston Churchill

“In America you have watches, in Africa we have time.”

– Nicholas from Uganda

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

– Gladiator

 

“Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific. Those of us who knew him best talk about him often. I swear, the stuff he pulled. Sometimes it makes me sad though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty when they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”

– The Shawshank Redemption

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you didn’t do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

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