New year’s eve has to be the most under-appreciated holiday.
It might get more play than say, groundhog’s day or earth day, but it does not get the respect it deserves.
There is a gathering in times square. A rather large one.
We get together, eat and drink, watch a ball drop, and close out the holiday season.
The true value of the holiday, though, is far greater than the surface festivities would lead you to believe. The end of the year is a time to reflect. To ponder. To contemplate. To look forward.
We watch the latest pop sensation sing to a screaming mob and think that we’re celebrating.
I love a good celebration, don’t get me wrong. I have no trouble finding a reason to tap my glass of fine red wine across the table. I look for reasons to “cheers” in daily life.
But I equally value the quieter moments, alone with my thoughts, where I have carved out space to reflect about my day/week/month/year/life.
I have one more full day in the Dominican. In preparation of my departure, I’ve been doing a fair amount of reflecting. I’ve thought about the past month of my life, what I’ve learned, how I’ll be a better teacher, how I’ll be a better person.
The biggest lesson, what I’ve reflected on the most, is what brought me here and what makes it hard to leave.
I’ve thought about the faces of new friends that I’ve made in this past month. Friends that I will be sad to say goodbye to. Friends that have treated me as family, taught me, and loved me. Friends that I didn’t even know existed just four weeks ago, but will now have a difficult time parting ways with.
I’ve thought about my students. About how their faces are reflected in the ones that I’ve passed thousands of times on the streets of La Romana. I’ve thought about my school, my colleagues, my supervisors. I’ve thought about how I carry them with me in every step of my walk on the island.
I’ve thought about the faces of my friends from home. About the community that I left in NYC. About how they have been behind me, supporting me, emailing me, and cheering for me since before I left. About the ones that made my eyes tear up when I saw their faces through my computer screen.
I’ve thought about the faces that have helped me thrive while I’ve been here. My professor, who has been supportive, demanding, and encouraging since the beginning. Who has sent emails, at just the right moment, to tell me that he is on my side. About my classmates that inspire me to be an agent of change in the broken places, the ones that model what it looks like to live in the plausible instead of the probable.
I’ve thought about the faces of my family. Ive thought about my sister and how much faith she has in me. How that lives in my soul and rises up when I have no faith in myself. I’ve thought about how my niece made a paper chain of how many days until I come home. I’ve made lists of all of the things we’ll do together when I get home.
I’ve thought about my mom and how she would randomly hug me in the grocery store in the days before I left, stealing as much contact as she could before my six week voyage to a foreign land. I’ve thought about how she raised me to be strong enough to make the journey in the first place, and how I’ve only ever wanted to make her proud by being here.
I wouldn’t be here without those faces.
I chose the Dominican Republic because I felt connected to it, connected because of my community in NYC, connected because of the faces.
Any good that had come from being here is because of the support of the faces I left, and the support of the ones that I met, but will soon leave.
I look forward to leave because of the faces that wait at home, the ones I hope to have made proud.
I leave for Bogota on Wednesday morning. I won’t be home to those faces for several weeks, but they will still be holding me up until I return. They will still be the voices inside my head, pushing me to accept nothing less than my best, nothing less than what they believe me to be.
Tomorrow is my New Year’s Eve.
I have reflected.
I will remember that new faces are in every new community. I will remember that I stand tall for the sole reason that I have been loved well by the faces I already know.
I will raise a glass as well. I will celebrate the end of my time here, filled with a grateful heart for all of the faces in my life.
I will remember that we are relational beings, meant to connect and share life and walk and fall and love with one another. And that not much matters outside of that.
And I will still blog from Bogota. Not because it is a requirement, or because I have fallen in love with the life of a blogger.
Fear not, this did not happen. I still hate to blog.
I will blog, though, because it makes me feel connected to the very faces that this blog is about, the faces that I love so very dearly.
And everything changes when you fall in love with people.