Waving goodbye to this little Greek island is mighty hard.
It's hard because this place is absolutely beautiful.
And no one lives here except old Greek fishermen and young Greek military men.
It's hard because it's quiet and the mountains look like they're pasted from photoshop onto a perfectly starry sky.
It's hard because people are kind and the world is small but also very big and there are many places to see and kind people to meet so who knows when I'll find my self back on the island with more goats than humans?
It's hard because this will all still be happening. The Syrian government will still be cutting off Rebel supply lines and suicide bombs will still be going off in Damascus.
And Aleppo. And schools. And hospitals.
And people will still be looking for new homes.
'Helping' feels good; purposeful; like the right thing to do.
When I got here, I thought a lot about why I came.
"oh international development majors are just taught to save the world.
it's a bullshit degree"
So I thought about why I came here.
And I decided No. I'm not here to save the world.
I think I'm here because it's the right thing to do.
I think helping people is the right thing to do.
I've noticed that
compassion is something we all think the world lacks.
Reading about Donald Trump and Martin Shkreli and Bashar al-Assad can make a person really jaded. Personally, I usually have a once-a-term break down about the state of the world
followed by hella tears, calls to Mom and yoga.
And then I get my shit together because I'm a Gansta who needs help the world.
I'd argue that we are mostly all compassionate people,
figuring out our own ways to cope with this
seemingly compassionless little blue marble of a world.
we are the world.
Why do we think the world is full of hate
when we are so full of love?
I talked to my mom the other day and we talked about Why We Travel.
And we decided that We Travel because it validates our community. It shows us we can find our people, a home, some company, despite language barriers and differing religious views and political tides.
On this island, I've met mostly Muslims.
And if you've ever met me, you know I wear mostly tight pants.
(Hashtag booty life)
So I met many Muslims and I tended to get looked at 'very carefully' (as my new Pakistani friend would say);
my bare shoulders and tights pants and blue eyes were examined closely.
So I smile, because I smile at everyone.
And they smile.
And we talk. And they say
"When I was twenty, I had two babies!"
"Your love is in America?! Why did you leave him?!"
(Haha, sorry Conbon)
And we laugh because our world's are so different but so quickly becoming so similar.
And it's scary and it's good and it's bad.
Assimilation versus Integration.
How do we keep our culture, our traditions, the important things to our identity
in our rapidly globalizing, mish-mash of color and opinion and types-of-pants world?
How much of these new cultures do we accept and how much do we challenge?
Why can't I wear my tight pants in Istanbul?
Why can't my new friend Dana, cover her head with a scarf in France?
So. Helping feels good.
But learning feels better.
Listening and talking.
I think borders are silly and frivolous and a social construct the world survived many moons without so why do we need them now and why must they be so Got Damn difficult?
I think men all of the world show love and affection in the most interesting ways. Like carrying slightly heavy things even though you are (I Am) a Strong Independent Women.
It's an honor that you'd let them carry your things.
It's not that you aren't strong. It's that they are too.
I think children are the most resilient little drunkards that have ever known the earth and even people who say they don't like kids do like kids, because kids really don't let life get them too far down for too long.
I think mothers are magical and selfless and the marrow of the earth and I could write about mothers forever because their love is the deepest I've ever seen and their beauty is just poetic.
I think we are all doing the best we can. We are all doing exactly what we can do.
I think we need to stop worrying about that which we cannot change or control. Like the weather in Serbia or slightly broken shoes or eating another slice of bread (and this is included because I cannot control how many slices of bread I eat because I have no self-control).
I think we should let people wear tight pants and head scarves.
I think globalization is okay. Tricky but probably okay.
And I think we should walk in the mountains any chance we get.
Mostly, I think it's beautiful the way compassion comes in so many forms. Like the young man who took the Turkish Evil Eye pinned on his shirt and pinned it straight onto mine, when I said it was beautiful. Or how the shop owner who is hosted me, feeds all the stray cats every morning and evening (and feeds me, which is a large undertaking in it of itself). Or how his wife is visiting refugees in Sweden and Germany, checking in and making sure they're okay. Or how the Mayor of this little island always says 'hello' to me and points to things I should photographer, to make sure I remember his little island. Or how Connor listens to me talk on and on about Middle Eastern politics because he knows I sometimes just need to talk. Or even the old English women who drive me nuts and come and take pictures with the 'refugee kids' on Saturday's but still have goodness and kindness in their hearts because they spend their Saturday's sorting clothes and handing out shoes.
Compassion is the action of love, I think.
It's the action of thoughtfulness.
We are all compassion, embodied, if we so choose.
And I think most of us do.
A couple weeks ago, I said that I hadn't seen anybody sopping wet.
Now, I have.
We were just having dinner served. It had been a very long day.
Spaghetti and chickpea salad and rocket with avocado.
We heard yelling and looked out the window to see
a man in nothing but his underwear sopping wet.
We got up and walked outside. It was frigid.
and the air was filled with yelling in all sorts of languages:
"Yara, yara! Yala yala!!!"
(They call me Yara in this part of the world)
(Yala means come on, let's go, hurry up!)
So I followed the swarm of kids to the water.
And the first thing that crossed my mind was,
"Oh my gosh, someone washed ashore, someone is dead and that man jumped in to try and save them. Oh no"
But I stayed (somewhat) calm. And I looked. And flash lights from phones point me in the direction of a piece of paper,
laying on the floor of the sea.
The man had been walking back from the police and had just received his registrations papers allowing him 6 months in Greece and the ability to continue his journey further into the EU.
The papers had blown out of his hands.
And his first reaction?
Jump in and save his biggest hope.
That is desperation and fear. That is truly not having anywhere to return to.
That is a piece of paper controlling your fate
and a fake concept called a 'border' controlling your livelihood.
Is that something we want in the world?
A translator took him to the police to explain and I stayed amidst the dying chaos.
A young greek fisherman offered to
1) try and fish out the papers
2) jump into the water himself to try and retrieve the papers
That is compassion. That is helping others because they need help.
That is selflessness and a really high cold tolerance.
That is something we want in the world.
*in the end it was all okay and the police made the man a new set of papers. all is well*
Tonight, I leave for Istanbul.
Who knows what that city will bring
besides more thoughts.
Thank you to Kastellorizo and all the wonderful people I met.
I will be back soon.
Go show the world your version of compassion.