Crossing Oceans

When I was in grade twelve, I kind of had a habit of getting into intense debates. Still do to be honest. But in grade twelve I was really starting to discover what I was passionate about and I was blessed enough to be put in classrooms with teachers who encouraged me to think for myself and friends who constantly challenged me (thanks). I learn best from talking things through and so these debates led to break throughs in how I thought. They often made me realize my beliefs, as I defended them.

So, I’m in my grade 12 religion class and the theme is ethics and morality. Inevitably we start talking about how to treat other people…and if our treatment of them should be dependant on how they treat us. And I’ll never forget the next 15 minutes or so that unfolded. One of the boys in the back of the class started, very determinedly I may add, stating that people who didn’t respect him did not deserve his respect in return. From his point of view, it was acceptable for him to treat people as “less than” if they didn’t give him the respect that he thought he deserved. He saw respect and care for other people as a transaction. I give you, you give me. And all the kids in my class nodded their heads and something inside of me just pulled back and felt sick. And being Sam, I decided I could not let this brief conversation go by without fighting back.

Suddenly I found myself at the center of a debate, my main argument being that human beings deserve respect solely on the basis that they are people. You do not have to like someone. You do not have to be best friends. But human beings deserve basic respect and someone else not showing you love does not give you an excuse to treat them subpar. I was very respectful but very adamant that he was wrong. We never did come to an agreement that day but I did learn a lot about my own thoughts and views.

A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook, as one does, and I came across this post. I’m assuming that its a screenshot from a Tumblr post or something? I’m not super on top of my Tumblr knowledge (psst WordPress is better). 

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So I see this post and, I’m not exaggerating, I wanted to shout and jump around because YES. Yes, yes, yes a million times over. I wanted to find the person who wrote the second half of this and shake their hand. This is what love is. This is what life is about. This takes what I was trying to get that boy in my class to understand and takes it one step further. Because I would say that going further than only respect, we should actually love all people.

Here’s the thing. As humans, our gut reaction is to read just the first part of this and nod our heads in agreement. Obvious right? Why go above and beyond for anyone who isn’t willing to do the bare minimum for you? And that logic makes sense…if we’re being selfish. And if we’re being close minded. And if we want to limit our potential for love and fullness of life. But life is not just about us as individuals. Our world is beautifully interconnected and intertwined. Life is about connections. 

I love people. I really do. I think people are fascinating and quirky and wonderful and weird and I love it. When people ask me why I’m studying International Development, the first words out of my mouth are always “I love people” (I have lots of others but this is the first). Because even though I do not know every individual on this planet, I do know that every single one of them has potential. They all have strengths and weaknesses and dreams and ideas. They have stories and pasts that give them a unique perspective. They know things that I don’t. And I love them. Regardless of the mistakes they make or the way they act, God made them with a purpose and if I want to live a full life, I want to show people love.

Obviously this perspective is heavily influenced by my faith. I’ve experienced love and sacrifice from my God on a level that I will never truly understand. I mean hello, died for us? And as much as I try to love people unconditionally and without strings attached, I definitely fall short sometimes. It’s hard! We disagree or we feel hurt when someone doesn’t appreciate our efforts. But when I step back, it always comes back to love. And I want to let the love God has given to me overflow into every aspect of my life, every breath I take, every word I speak, every person I meet and every day that I get on this earth.

1st Corinthians 13:7 says “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I want to learn what it means to love recklessly and enduringly. I want to love, regardless of what I get in return. Will I get hurt sometimes? Definitely. Sometimes loving people I don’t even know means I cry about earthquakes in other countries or get righteously and furiously angry about inequity. Love means being open to heartbreak, and I’m okay with that because the reward outweighs the risk, big time.

So I will cross oceans. I will climb mountains. I will step out of my comfort zone again and again. I will turn to God as an example and I will turn to people as the purpose. I will greet everyone as “friend”. I will connect and I will laugh with people who do not share my language. I will try my very best not to let my temporary frustrations influence the way I treat people.

Let’s not put ties on our lives. Let’s live fully and with love. Do it. Cross whatever “ocean” you’ve been avoiding and extend love to the people you see as unloveable, whether it be because of the way they’ve treated you or because of your own bias. Open your eyes. See worth rather than flaw. 

This all sounds pretty basic. Like, we know, treat others how you want to be treated, thanks Mom. But seriously. I want to be known for being a woman who loved fiercely and compassionately rather than one who was bitter and so wrapped up in her own comfort that she forgot how valuable people and relationships really are.

Take a risk. You’ll survive a little heartbreak but f you never love openly, you won’t truly live.

– Until next time, Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…and Buses…and Subways

Hey friends! How’s life?

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The girl who lives next to me in residence mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I always greet people with “friends” and since then I’ve been very aware that that is almost become a catch phrase of mine. But really, I do it because I mean it. I love all the human beings I know, with their little quirks and personalities and I consider everyone to be my friend. Including you dear readers! Anyway, that was a side bar. Sorry for being distracted.

Speaking of being distracted, it’s been close to a month since my last post! Where oh where does the time go? Even now, I really should be doing my economics project or studying for my history midterm but hey, we all need study breaks sometimes. And at least blogging is “productive procrastination”. Life is just busy!
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Since I last wrote, I’ve been on two “adventures” that included actually leaving city boundaries. One was a weekend trip to Quebec City to experience Carnevale and the sweet charm of Old Town. I’d been before and seriously loved it and it didn’t fail to meet my memories expectations. We explored, we ate, we shopped, we drank Cariboo (the signature drink) and visited the ice palace, we tried “tire d’erable” and danced in the snow and went to a nightclub. We made new friends and spoke lots of “Franglish”. It was so much fun. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t really have the time or the money but I am so glad that I did. (My pictures here just didn’t want to upload…imagination ooooh, ahhhh, poutine, pretty buildings.) UPDATE: pictures are here now!

 

Secondly, I just came home from a week in the Dominican Republic! Although I was sassily told this week that by a friend that he “got more tan staying in Ottawa” than I did by going away, it was really relaxing and nice to spend time with my family (Mom, sister, aunts and family friends). I just lay on the beach and read and napped and played in the waves all week long. And, was sorely disappointed by the dismal Spanish skills…I seriously need to brush up! (In all my spare time right?) One day we left the resort and toured through the city of Purto Plata. My favourite part was when we took a cable car up one the highest mountains in the country. It was so beautiful! Ya’ll know I got a thing for mountains. There was a national park at the top and I dragged Mal up and down several winding forest paths to see the lagoon and visit a cave.

Honestly, it just felt good to have a change of scenery. I get so antsy staying in one place for too long and this was the first time I had been on a plane since coming home from my exchange, almost 2 years ago exactly. As the title suggests, I took just about every form of transportation possible to get from Ottawa to Toronto to Porta Plata and back but I loved it. I love airports and train stations. I love how everyone is basically trapped together in this little building. And then, as if someone dropped and shattered a glass, we go flying to every corner of the globe, sending friends, family, strangers…everyday to new places. All kinds of people can be there all at once, for all different purposes. Are they scared, excited? Where are they going? Is someone meeting them on the other side? I don’t know, it just makes me think and want to people watch. Airports have a lot of potential and they make me happy 🙂

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That’s all for now, just a little update post. Kind of random and a little messy but that’s ok with me. I hope it’s okay with you too. Best of luck to those of you with me in the midterm grind. We got this! Smile today. Put on some happy music and do a little jig in your room or your car or right outside on the street. You’re alive! You’re alive and today, today is a good day to be human.

-Until next time, Sam

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P.S. Oh wow! I almost forgot. If I’m doing a life update, I have to include my two new volunteer assignments! I’ve started both of them now.

Foot Patrol. Basically, this is a service at my school that runs weekdays from 8pm-2am that offers walks to people who don’t want to walk at night alone. I go on Mondays from 8-11 and myself, along with a partner are able to walk people home so they feel safe, or just have some company. I love to walk and I love to talk, so basically, it’s the best thing ever.

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Sage Youth. This is a literacy organization that I am SO excited to be working with. Although it has programs all over the city, the one that I am currently helping with is with the Syrian refugee children that have recently arrived in Canada. Once a week, I go and help teach English to kids, many of whom have never spoken the language before. I went for the first time today and it was so chaotic but so fun. They are eager to learn and so polite and all of them want “teacher” to hear them read over everyone else haha. Some of them are just learning the alphabet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to next week.

That’s all, just thought I’d share how I’ve been trying to get involved. It feels good.