Drifting between two worlds

How does one go…

From waking up each morning on a hay stack bed, gazing up at the half-torn tarp roof clinging to its last fibers, piercing shrieks of hungry roosters in the distance, sixteen worn and scruffy people flung beside you, all crammed in one shanty bedroom.

To waking up in a king-sized bed, arms outstretched, drowning in a sea of floral scented comforters. Alone in a bedroom far too big, fan on full blast, the sun gently casting its rays through plantation shutters, the smell of fresh coffee roasting in the kitchen.

How does one go…

From working manual labor all day beneath the harsh sun.. shovels, wheel barrows, bruised knees and elbows, sun-scorched shoulders, sore backs.

To heel clicking through the financial district in the city of San Francisco.. crisp business suit, quick pace, corporate rat race.

From cold showers, pet cockroaches, filthy tap water, constant stomach problems, an inconceivable level of poverty.

To alarm clocks, $5 morning starbucks, four wheel drive, health standards, safe and civil roads.

How does one drift between two worlds and make sense of the vast discrepancy between the two?

How does one go…

From witnessing infinite amounts of gratitude illuminating through the smiles of families who have finally been granted a concrete floor they had been hoping for? And then spending days pouring and leveling that concrete floor for them, while they use the very little money they have to prepare you rice and lentils for lunch to show their appreciation.

To witnessing envy, greed, high stress levels, and the overall feeling by most of just not being good enough, never being quite enough. All the while they’re making five or six digit salaries, watching football on their 55-inch TV screens, and ordering extra large pizzas for delivery so they don’t have to uproot themselves from their lazy boy couches.

The discrepancies are outrageous. And to shift between these two worlds is anything but effortless.. it is hard, sad, contradictory, enlightening, and frustrating.

We are by no means static. What we subject ourselves to changes us, molds us, hurts us, strengthens us, and gives us hope. Our thoughts, peers, what we hear and what we see. What we watch and what we read. Whether we choose to realize it or not, we take a little bit of it all and carry it with us.

I am a product of both worlds. My heart has grown to accommodate all the experiences in my life that I’ve chosen to keep. Both have molded me and shaped me in a multitude of ways. And which world do I prefer? I prefer the values of the first world. I prefer gratitude over greed, happiness over wealth, liveliness over staleness. I prefer to wake up rugged and hungry for life. I prefer the simplicity, the realness, the raw feeling of energy at the tips of my fingers and toes. I prefer inspiration, spirituality, things that matter. I prefer real people, real hardships, real choices, and real smiles to a life fueled by money and skewed perceptions of who we are and what is important in life.

And sometimes it angers me. I wonder where we went wrong and how we became so selfish. I wonder why people waste their minds and voices on such inane topics, and why we care so much about things that we inevitably have to let go of. I wonder why we self destruct, and why so many people knowingly walk around rich and unhappy. I wonder why it has to be one or the other. And why we can’t see what is right before us, how we are so blinded to the fate we have created for ourselves. I wonder why we run in endless circles and can’t see that if we just stop and look around, it all becomes clear. All we need to know unveils itself in silence. And I wonder how I, despite feeling and understanding this, can integrate myself right back in with society, like a puzzle piece that went missing but never actually changed its form.

And then, it comes. Like a cool breeze drifting through a cracked window, cutting through the stale air, it settles over me. A quiet, private aura of gratitude and happiness. And I feel relief. I put down the frustrations that I carry, and let go of the misunderstandings and incongruities I’ve witnessed. And I replace it with gratitude for my perspective. I feel blessed that I have the drive and willpower to have led myself down these off-beaten paths that have ultimately changed me. And I feel happy to know that these experiences are mine for the taking. I will always have them, and nothing will ever change that. My heart has expanded to make room for the people and places that have snuck their way in. And I feel strong. With effort, patience, and lots of compassion, I am learning how to drift between two worlds.

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