Update from Hope: Africa take off Day 1
I’m just a teensy bit EMOTIONAL.
I feel a little dull, my senses muted, my body fragile, my reactions slowed, my legs wobbly, my head swimming, throbbing, aching.
I haven't said much, been super vocal or drawn too much attention to myself these last few days (aside from my usual smorgasbord of expected puppy obsessed photos or regular ridiculous snarky FB status posts) but the past 4 days or so I've come down with something fierce and have been violently ill.
Despite the fact that I wouldn't wish this temporary mystery illness on my worst enemy, my little 4 day restroom rendezvous has left me very, very humbled regarding the delicacy and fleetingness of my own personal health and place in the world.
Impermanence is a thing and it really is lurking around every corner. (Especially the busy Chicago street corners...in the summer...late at night...when you're all alone... Okay, okay you get the picture) And although I am more aware of this now than ever, it never changes the fact that I tend to operate in the world like a bright-eyed child, full of awe and wonder, overwhelmed with curiosity and easily consumed by emotion. Like a bug to light, I follow the brightest brights and the darkest darks. In my child-like state I tend to see myself as indestructible and even invincible most of the time. Maybe this is because I choose to believe and operate under the assumption that everyone is good and that the world is full and overflowing with untapped love waiting to envelop us all and show us to one another. I imagine it as a silent, delicate orchestration leading us to that magical place where everything aligns, where the world seems soft and we share those rare and precious moments i.e., a look, a story, a deeper connection; one where our hearts and souls really see each other and we can let our guard down, let out a breath and say "oh, you too?" and end with a hug.
I operate under the pretense that when things are bad, or people are hateful, violent, vengeful, hurtful, murderous, manipulative, conniving or downright evil that they just need to be loved, listened to, cared for, accepted and shown the behavior and compassion that they wish they had received throughout their lives.
Hurt people, hurt people. If we were the loving, nurturing adults that we always wished that we had growing up then the world would be a much kinder, gentler place.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe you disagree, maybe I'm just a sitting duck waiting to be ambushed and taken advantage of but I don't think so.
I've shown love to some of the most violent, hardened folks out there and the return for me has been at least 10 fold.
I write all of this because my body's current, minor battle with A) some unknown foreign Mexican virus B) contaminated United Airlines food poisoning C) Malaria pills (enough said) D) Giardia from my disgustingly CUTE pup that might as well be my lover (I'm from the South, it's allowed) or E) All of the above has really, really humbled me.
Now you might be thinking, "C'mon, Hope. That's a little dramatic. And to that I say, just wait until I breathe on you and this is what theater people do when they feel really sick, right? --RIGHT?!
Okay, WHATEVER. I do feel much more human than I have the past few days and yes, I am SO lucky that I have a healthy immune system and that my body possesses the ability )if it chooses) to recuperate. I also don't hate the fact that my buttered-bagel-loving-self has lost about 10 pounds (Hollaaaa!) but being basically incapacitated and feeling just a touch of what some of our kiddos feel their entire lives really opened my crusted over eyes and has left me feeling brand new, slightly fragile and so, so thankful.
When things are bad, much like a wounded animal or a Paul the Hermit style monk, I'm astonishingly good at isolating and pushing people away. I go into hiding and I rarely, if ever ask for help. I get mad at myself if I can't handle something and if it's obvious then I crack jokes and nonchalantly play things off like everything is superrrr normal.
It usually goes something like...
"Yikes. Oh, man. Okay. Oops. Sorry. Sorry. Sooo sorry. Yeah. Yep. Well...uh. My arm just fell off. Ha. Haha. Hehe. Ohhh, no biggy. My bad. My bad. Agh, sorry for bleeding in your general direction. Oh, yeah...It's no problem. Nah. I got it. It's fine. Really it's fine, fine, FINEEEE. Oh, I'm bleeding out? Yeah, it's okay. Are you okay? I know this is probably hard for you to watch. Are you sure you're okay? Oh don't worry about me. Can you just hand me my unrecognizable, disgustingly severed arm from over there? Actually it's okay, you stay put. I'll just grab it. Nooo big deal. I'm just gonna head out now. Take care! So sorry I was such a downer today. Here is some overdraft money from my overdrawn bank account for your inconvenience. Don't worry about me. Yeah, no HAHA don't show up! I'll just call you after it’s too late."
Super ridiculous right?
Well here's the good news...
The few people that were vaguely aware of my altered state and how awful I've been feeling these past few days have been so amazing. What troopers you guys are. You really showed up. But so has everyone that has been completely and utterly unaware too.
How you ask? Well, all of this pity love combined with the outpouring of constant love that I feel and have felt from you all for me personally on my windy, curvy, janky journey in life, in addition to the endless and overwhelming love and support you all have offered and continue to offer for things like Humor for Hope baffle me and leave me breathless in the best way every.single.day. What I'm trying to say is...
You guys, none of this would exist without you all. I hope you realize that.
Although I live my life for h4h, believe in it and it's healing potential with every ounce of my being and know without a doubt that my life experiences, good and bad, have lead me exactly where I need to be...I also have to accept that I am not Humor for Hope. She is her own being. I can nourish, love, teach and support her with all that I have, the best ways that I know how but I have to remind myself that this beautiful, organic vision is separate from who I am and my personal identity. It was and is an amalgamation of us. Without an "us" none of this would exist.
When someone asks me who I am I don't respond, "I am Humor for Hope." I just say, "I am Hope. Nice to meet you. Please shake this hand because my other arm fell off earlier today."
I am just Hope, trying to do my part in the world because I have a bleeding heart and I want so badly to leave things a little better than I found them. I dream about the potential of our world, of each other, of an "us" and it is so beautiful it's painful.
We all deserve to feel loved, to be seen, cared for and comforted in our darkest of times and on our brightest days too.
Some of the most soul filling experiences of my life include watching you all support something that you believe in so passionately, so fiercely, with all of your heart and not because someone is telling you to but because YOU want to, because at your core something resonates in you, because somewhere in your busy mind, body and souls this just feels right to you regardless of whether a name is attached to it or not.
That, to me, is love. That to me is what this world needs. That to me is the change we need and it's happening right before our eyes.
The good in this world is because of YOU.
Right now I'm 1 hour into a 15-hour flight somewhere over the Atlantic headed to Africa to listen, bear witness to, hold space for, cry with and of course dance and LAUGH with some people that could really use it. I know without a doubt that this journey and these people, just like you all, will fill me, will fill US in more ways than I could ever imagine.
Together we are defenders of hope and deliverers of humor. This is the essence of Humor for Hope. This is what WE are doing, together. The vision the world has for our girl h4h is beautiful and life giving and just so much dang fun to be a part of. We are on our way ya’ll..
I just want to say thank you on behalf of h4h for supporting this, for helping guide h4h and for being a part of positive change. And personally, from yours truly (the fictional one armed bandit) thank you from me, just Hope, for leaving me and the world better than you found it.
Be humble, be gracious, be kind.
See you in Africa,