"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

the weight of significance

We throw around the term, “first world problem” pretty flippantly.  It flies off the tongue with little or no significance to its true meaning.  We don’t mean too. Rush hour traffic, numbers on a weight scale, frustrations with the service industry, inadequate cellphone bars, or backed up toilets;  daily potholes in the road, tiny little irritations to our day, taking up time when we’d rather be elsewhere.  Sometimes we let them get to us. Sometimes we react. Sometimes we waste energy carrying around guilt for not managing the day to day with more grace.

Still we say it …. “first world problem” … maybe with a teasing laugh, an eye roll, or unintentionally devoid of heartfelt meaning. 

I fell into a world that knocked me flat.

I met beautiful people. Built eternal relationships. Faced impossible situations. Mastered massive emotions. Explored inner conflicts. Witnessed true joy.

Still, I got knocked.

Hard enough to walk away time and again from a blank page canvas waiting for just the right written words.

Hard enough to wonder if there were any words.

Hard enough to question if it mattered.

Hard enough to fathom what does.

I’ve struggled to look at any of the pictures from my journey. Unsure my heart can handle the words of a young girl, “Please …. Don’t forget who I am.” Certain I will break at the memory of where I held a precious hand, laughed a good laugh, shared a hard story and wiped away tears. I’ve wrestled with the importance of everything my little life on this gigantic planet is. I’ve questioned all that I do.

I don’t know.

Is this important?

Probably not.

But somewhere, somehow, some way, I need to solidify a moment where these that I wrapped in my heart, were seen, heard, felt, loved and above all in my eyes …. significant.


  1. I felt this way when I went to Russia just a few years after communism fell apart. It wasn't Africa, but still. There were so many people who were lost, confused, poor, struggling, so much mud and rust and smog, and so many people who were trying hard to create something beautiful out of the broken bits of it all. I didn't know what to say or what even to think about that experience for a long time, and then I realized that it didn't need a tidy something said about it, that it wasn't a journal to be written down and put on a shelf, but a well, to be drawn from for application in a lot of different experiences over the years. People asked me, "How was Russia?" and I didn't want to say, "You wouldn't understand," because that sounds uppity, but it was true. Nobody, even if they'd had the same experience I did, would have felt the same way I did about it. The feelings and thoughts and personal changes that went on in my heart were mine, and no matter how I tried I couldn't share them with the same intensity that they came to me. I remember how much of what I thought was important seemed so petty when I came back. So what I mean to say is I get it, but at the same time of course I don't get it. It's yours, and it's tough to know how to share it.

  2. Beautiful words Marlowe! Through my own experiences, and in my own way, I too understand. xx