There is a slight nip in the air. Just enough to signify the height of the rafting (read: tourist) season has not yet descended upon the valley, and that therefore the Eddyline brewery will be only normally crowded instead so packed as to make the comer second-guess waiting to be seated at all. We're riding down there on the townie bikes. Ash and I and mum and Mark. It's all downhill on the way so it's an easy cruise which only intensifies the feeling of serenity. The only thing on my mind is a half pound of grass-fed beef with hatch green chilies and black pepper mixed into the meat, which is topped with local goat cheese and sandwiched between two perfectly toasted buns, one smothered in house-made spicy brown mustard. Next in line in my mind is the dark and smooth porter, whose complex combination of chocolate and coffee seem to enrich the tastes of the burger even further. Holding up all this is the sense of belonging. The knowledge that I'm with family, who know me and love me and I know them and love them. All this in a flash of a memory.
The memory is one which at the moment - five months into living in a foreign land and trying to communicate in a foreign tongue - makes my heart ache for home. Yet when I try to dig deeper, to identify what I'm missing and why, I find that that memory only a part of a broader context. A context in which Ash and I were preparing to leave (again) on the journey of Peace Corps. We had a sense of purpose. We had direction. We weren't simply enjoying life, we were living with purpose, with a higher calling.
Other memories of the recent past again point to this larger context. The reality of the enjoyment of the moments I remember aren't diminished by the realization of this bigger picture, instead it is deepened by the awareness of it. Working alongside community members to get the community farm ready for the season, singing in unison with hundreds of others on Sunday mornings or being touched by a challenging teaching, or sharing a cup of coffee with my best friend and soulmate on a lazy morning. They are all extraordinary moments which weave together the tapestry of my life. Yet they are just that; individual threads. To focus on one or two or even a hundred pieces of thread leaves one missing the way in which those threads come together to form the whole work of art. To simply assume that missing home or a quality meal with family means that somehow my present circumstances are lacking or need to change is like unweaving an intricate tapestry down to a thread only to find that you have to then start over and make it again from scratch.
In this way I try to remind myself that though I may miss "home," would it really be the same as my memory if I went back right now? Would I really be happier to pursue the threads of the past or should I concentrate on weaving the tapestry of today? When I stop to put the memories in this light, I remember too that the memories I'm making now, many incredibly special in their own right, also have a larger context. And though I've never actually weaved a tapestry by hand, I imagine it's a slow and frustrating process, one which requires the utmost attention, perseverance, and patience.
Așa e viața. So is life.