The Reality of Wanderlust

I don’t have the opportunity to travel very often. My ability to learn more about the world around me and the vast subcultures of the United States comes from my thirst to educate myself. I read. I listen. I watch. I find I have questions, so I read, listen, and watch some more. The times that I do get to travel, I often come home with a brain buzzing with so much information, so many questions, that I am jittery and overwhelmed. I have lots of thoughts...ideas...research....desire to share what I am experiencing.

Perhaps, it’s a good thing I don’t travel too often. Maybe I would take it all for granted? Maybe I would soak in the environment for my own personal pleasure and enjoyment? Perhaps I’d walk away unbothered? But I doubt it.

This year’s trip to the Deep South of the United States gave me the opportunity to listen to Michelle Obama read her book “Becoming” and fill me with so much embarrassment that I had not fully grasped how good the Obama family was and is when it mattered most.

This year’s trip into the bayou revealed to me how much the environment is quickly changing and affecting all parts of the United States and the world. From the creole man of color that serenaded me with “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans” in the Quarter who remarked about the unnaturally high waters of the mighty Mississippi and his faith that the Army Corps of Engineers would keep them safe (though they had already failed this man tragically before).

This year’s trip didn’t find me on a plantation renovated by a white, wealthy lawyer who restored it to tell only the stories of the slaves that had lived and died there. However, it still had me thinking of their words, their lives, the shame of the United States’ historic past that still often goes untold in its full truth. The signs are still throughout the French Quarter and along Esplanade Avenue marking the places that were once slave pens and auction houses (signs that are relatively new to the city).

This year’s trip didn’t have me sitting in Jackson Square listening to a stranger tell me how beautiful and powerful I am--her eyes shining with truth and light--her voice full of conviction and truth. Yet, her words still followed me, reminding me that I have yet to embrace the potential she saw in me.

This year’s trip had me walking through the shops with the mind of a soon-to-be-teacher spotting children’s books that I wanted for the classroom I would one day have. Maybe that was me acknowledging that stranger’s words of potential, power, and future?

This year’s trip had me watching the flood waters from the bayou up through the entire drive home to Indiana. With each road sign marking the name of a flooded city and town, I pulled up information on my phone, startled to know that these areas had been flooded for seven long months. The fields that were not under water were pocked with patches of wildflowers and weeds, unplowed and planted, unable to produce enough of a crop to bother planting. The changing climate, the monstrous weather, the flooding and rushing currents were visible first hand.

I have a lot to process and think about.

I have a lot to research and learning.

I have a lot to say.

But mostly, I have a reason to keep teaching, writing, and creating. We need truth now more than ever. Our entire nation and world are in need.

So stay tuned.


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