We had to watch the Motorcycle Diaries for Spanish class this week, one of my favorite films. The first time I watched it was with my dear “EMP – Experience Mexico Project” friends in Mexico City, 2007. It was to start a thoughtful discussion on how travelling and experiencing the world changes you. I remember Tyler, who has a severe phobia of needles, grabbed my arm with so much force it left finger-bruises when they gave Ernesto Guevara a shot for his asthma in the movie. To be honest, I don’t remember much of our discussions, because the sum of our experience was greater than the individual parts. It endeared this movie to me, so much so that I later used it in Bible studies for high school youth groups. And now, here I was again, watching this time without subtitles, trying to prepare my mind for that dreaded Argentinean accent. I could speak volumes on how this movie relates to our aspirations for this trip (no, we are not going to start a violent revolution), but what was most impactful this time, was not in the film itself.
In the bonus features there is an interview with the real-life Alberto Granado; a content old man with liver spots and white hair. Speaking about his journey across Latin America with Ernesto Guevara, he says that, in order to travel so that the world changes you, you have to be a bad son, a bad brother, bad uncle, and a bad boyfriend. You have to leave all your attachments behind to truly travel and experience the world. Are we ready for this?
Maybe I’m just getting older; maybe I just love my kitten too much, I just want to finally be with our dear friends, maybe I am lazy and comfortable in my life and don’t want to face the challenges that lie ahead. Maybe it’s past my time to keep moving. Maybe the thought of going without a plan, of leaving the option open to not come back…ever…is too much for me. I have long been a planner, someone who constantly looks beyond the horizon. How long will we stay? Our reply has generally been a shrug and a “not sure, at least four months…” Lately, I’ve been inclined to say: “as long as it takes.” “As long as it takes for what?” is the usual response. I’m not sure what the answer is: long enough to speak Spanish at the level I want to, long enough to be transformed again by our learning and experiences, long enough to let go, long enough to be satisfied in any place, long enough to strengthen our marriage? I’m not sure that either one of us knows, but I know God does. Maybe it will just be the four months, maybe six, maybe eight, maybe more, or maybe less? We will just have to see what happens.
I’m fully aware of the challenges of being a foreigner; a traveler. And of course, with God’s perfect timing and sense of humor, this is just the time that we are leaving, after we finally want to stay. He tells me to stay when I want to run; He tells me to go when I long to stay. And it is with equally unique logic that because of these feelings I have: hesitation, fear, a longing to remain, that I know without a doubt we are going where God wants us to be. We are letting it all go, trusting in this community of love we’ve built, having faith that God will be with us wherever we go. Knowing that new, unimaginable joys await us in lands of new faces, new customs, new landscape, language, and food; new lessons that we’ll be grateful for.
Meanwhile, my head is swarming with things that need to get done before we move. Mail to forward, addresses to change, utilities to stop, memberships to cancel, things to throw out and donate, things to pack, things to buy so that we can pack, food to consume, people to see, walls to spackle and paint, things to clean, things to organize, mold to remove…bank accounts to open and close. And yet we still want our last three weeks in Seattle to be fun and enjoyable; we still want to go outdoors, rock climb, eat at our favorite places, see friends, and relax. For now I’m choosing to focus on this challenge, and let my mind continue to ruminate on our upcoming trip. Change is exciting and thrilling, but also terrifying. I think part of the lesson God is teaching me is to take it one-day at a time, and let Him worry about the rest.