In the last months I have not written any blogs, and neither posted any photos. Not because nothing has happened, neither have I lost my passion for photography. There were so many changes in my life I can hardly keep it up myself. And within all these rapids I find it very difficult to share. I am not only referring to this blog, but also when I am talking to family on the phone or when chatting with friends on whatsapp. Not because I don’t have any stories to tell, but I just don’t know where to start and where to end and whether people will understand me. Which then gives me the feeling that I am lagging behind my own life, that I am failing everyone including myself. As if I am running after a balloon to catch it, while it is blown away by the wind.
So I am telling myself now that there is no need for me to catch up, as if our lives are defined by facts and figures. Like a live blog from a news website when a big event is happening and you can read the changes every minute. When I think of what I want to know from my loved ones it’s not about what jobs they are actually doing, but about how they are feeling about the things they are doing in life. I don’t want to know what activities they did in the weekend, but I want to know whether the weekend gave them energy to start a new week. I don’t want to know what they are eating tonight, but I want to know how they made it. I don’t need to know where the next holiday is going to, but I want to know what makes them happy in life. I also want to hear how difficult it was when… And how challenging. Or how painfull. I want to know what’s on your heart.
I think we are all struggling with the same things. Whether you earn a lot of money in banking or when you are a poor farmer. Whether you are a teacher in school or a humanitarian aid worker in the field. When you are sitting at home or when you are always out with friends. We are not so different after all, and it helps to not feel alone when you keep sharing.
What I find very difficult in this humanitarian aid sector is that all the people which are close to me are leaving so often. Both when you are somewhere for a long time (like the 1.5 years I was based in Juba, South Sudan) or for a short time (like the 4 months I was based in Dohuk, Iraq). Most international people are having a one or two-year contract, but there are also people filling gaps for 1 to 6 months. So if there are around 20 expats in a country programme, with lets say an average contract of a little year, it means that every month 2 people are leaving and will be replaced by others! So you need to get to know new people again and again. And these colleagues will also be your friends, and it will feel like your family as well. You are doing everything together, especially if the security situation does not allow you otherwise. You will have to do it together. They will know everything from you. They are the ones who understand you the most, as they have experienced the same things. You have laughed together and shed many tears. And then they are going. Or you are going. And you need to start all over again, to get a sense of belonging.
I don’t want to chase the wind. And I will not even try to catch up with my own life, as if it is only justified when I catch that balloon to stick it in my scrapbook. So I will share what is on my heart. Because by not sharing anything at all, people will never understand me. And if we are not able to understand each other for only a little bit, we are just chasing after wind. Let’s instead watch together how our balloons of different colors are blown away by the wind. Of course you can run as well, or just sit still. Do you feel the wind on your face?