Trust Your Journey

by Belinda Munoz on March 2, 2012

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I have had an entire month to re-enter the life I knew before my journey to Congo — a life laced with the ordinary trials and triumphs of a mother, wife, working professional, and concerned citizen.

THE WEATHER, THE HOURS, THE DAYS
I have had some time to love and lament this unusually warm winter we’re having here at home. Sun, sandals and smiles, what’s not to love? But I lament it because there is overwhelming credible scientific evidence that we are facing a human-induced warming that requires all hands on deck and yet many of us are too happy to care when the berries are good and plenty.

In the past few weeks, I have missed the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Oscars as the TV stays tucked in the most inaccessible corner of my home and the viewing hours have turned from time-suck to reward. Somehow, I still managed to glimpse Meryl Streep’s gracious acceptance speech without trying.

I have had to get reacquainted with the oh-so-tricky terrain of parenting where actions and words sometimes diverge, thus, creating double standards that husband has had a history of forgiving but son, unfortunately, has not. He, too, will learn, though I hope more of the forgiving than the double standards.

THE MOMENTS, THE VOICES, THE LIGHT
Four weeks have gone by. Life goes on.

And yet as I find a quiet moment throughout my days, I hear the joyous, ululating sounds of the Congolese women’s voices in my head as though it were yesterday. I picture those remarkable women dancing, singing, celebrating life, and I’m instantly lifted by their staggering resilience. They are out there, walking miles of unpaved road, embracing moments of warmth, laughter and grace. They are living evidence that the human spirit can thrive even after evil has ravaged it.

There is much room for light in the Congo — a place where the moon and stars are often the only sources of light at night. As I write this, I realize that those who have not experienced Congo may be overwhelmed by the dark. Some have given up. They ought to look up. Congo’s light, though faint, is not the artificial kind. It holds promise to burn brighter.

If appealing to the best of humanity is too lofty a goal, then perhaps a more pragmatic, economic reason is more amenable: Congo’s total mineral wealth is reportedly estimated at $24 trillion. At the very least, might the rest of the world stand to gain something by helping to get Congo’s economy moving?

THE DOUBTS, THE QUESTIONS, THE FEARS
Congo and climate matters are camping out in my head. Both have a way of drawing you in once you begin to pay attention. But it almost doesn’t matter what cause we choose to advocate for. The questions and doubts swirl regardless of predilection. How much impact can one person make? What does it matter if I do or don’t participate? Isn’t someone more qualified already working on that? Does it really matter that I’ve stopped drinking bottled water? Why should I care about others so far away when I’ve got enough to keep me busy right here? Is all this questioning futile? Don’t all these doubts confirm anything?

I continue to struggle with how to share my Congo stories, gauging that fine line between enough and too much. How do I do justice to a story without it getting lumped in with the “trouble with Africa” pile? Is there a way to share an experience truthfully, unedited, and have the listener walk away feeling inspired to do something instead of depressed? I can only hope that what I share will lead to an opening, not a closing, of a mind and heart. What happens next, no one can control.

TRUST YOUR JOURNEY
I reconnected with a friend recently and he told me how these three words, gleaned from spiritual teachers, have helped him through his struggles. Trusting the unknown can be hard. And while we may be confident in our ability to trust the self, trusting others is a far more unwieldy notion.

But when we trust our individual journey, we remove the weight and undue limits of expectation, judgment and prediction. We proceed based on intuition or whatever it may be that compels us on our journey. We stop comparing ourselves with others and begin to find our groove. We learn to embody grace with each step. Some may take notice and follow.

Our journeys are unique but there are some things we can count on. There will be highs and lows. There will be roadblocks, potholes and forks. There may even be detours along a non-scenic route. But when we trust our journey, maybe, we find our way home.

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How do the questions and doubts figure into the process of trusting your journey? Do they detract from or enhance the journey?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg March 2, 2012 at 5:51 am

Trusting your journey and recounting it honestly is your best bet. The “trouble with Africa” category is rife with overwritten, manipulated prose, even when the intent is good. I don’t think there can be a single definitive work on any aspect of Africa–or climate change, for that matter–but there can be a definitive work on your single personal experience of it. Your experience is part of a larger quilt of experiences.

Trusting your journey, for a writer, is trusting your voice. The right readers will hear you.

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2 Belinda March 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I appreciate hearing your reaction to this post, Meg. My main challenge lies in the disconnect between discovering how very little people seem to care about Congo while at the same time understanding why — because there’s no good mainstream information that penetrates their day to day about it. And I think that is a crime that can be blamed wholly on the media. Why is it not on CNN or MSNBC? Is it because it’s too much of a downer and the tv-watching population want to be entertained and made to feel good; not educated or heaven forbid, challenged? It’s tempting to think that, but I don’t believe that’s it. I believe more people would care if they knew, but they’re not being given a choice to become aware of it, let alone to care about it. How will they ever know with the kind of profit-driven, soul-sucking programming that goes on? There are aid/humanitarian workers who are well aware, and frankly, I think they would make some great, inspirational programming, but, I know, in my dreams. And there’s sadly not enough people who know/care to create a public outcry to influence government the public, the global community. And why does there need to be yet another “official” war for anyone to pay attention? It’s frustrating but I have to remind myself that it’s part of the journey (mine, getting frustrated that not more action is taking place) and I can only do what I do to contribute to elevating this awareness.

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3 Anisi from Santa Fe March 2, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I hear you Belinda and I’m glad you are telling us about your journey. It’s been fascinating reading the posts as you reflect on your Congo trip and realize its effect on you. I (and I know I’m not the only one) appreciate you baring your thoughts and soul no matter what. It’s why I come to the halfway point!

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4 Giulietta Nardone March 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Hi Belinda,

Your Congolese journey wounds fantastic. Wish that travel was a required part of our educational system. It opens your eyes to the worlds of others, usually give you more compassion.

It’s hard to trust the journey when we are taught not to trust ourselves at a young age. I’m convinced we do trust ourselves until the schools try to take it away from us to herd us onto the dependency trail. Otherwise, who would stay confined all day like that for their entire youth while folks stuffed your head with stuff – more stuff, shopping stuff, info stuff.? Best to open the mind and let it go where it wants to.

We’re programmed to be voyeurs and not active participants in our own lives. And it fuels the rampant depression out there. I was feeling useless until I started engaging with my life, got myself out of the malls, away from lots of sitcoms. (do enjoy Downton Abbey, though because of the relationships.)

One person can make a huge impact. They lull us into thinking we can’t make any impact, which is why so few don’t even bother. Gandhi made an impact, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks. Hell, I’ve made an impact in my own town because I kept my eyes on the prize and refused to give up,

If we could change our definition of success – making lots of money to making lots of difference, folks would feel like they matter.

I wrote about humanity as well this week!

Look forward to hearing about your Congolese adventure just as you experienced it.

G.

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5 ayala March 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Great post, Belinda. Your answer to Meg resonates with how I feel, why isn’t more being done ? Why is it not on CNN every day ? It’s frustrating ! I thank you for the awareness that you bring . Always trust your journey, you are on the right path.

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6 Talon March 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I really do believe one person can make a difference. It’s like the tossing of a pebble in a pond…it radiates out and makes an impression in areas we can’t ever foresee. I thank you for your ability to not only trust your journey, Belinda, but to share it.

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7 Sara March 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

Belinda — I think sometimes our journeys take us to places that are very important to our own life lessons. It sounds to me like your trip to the Congo was one of those journeys. Now, the question is how do you absorb what you learned and what do you do with it?

Sadly, you can’t force other people to see what you saw — the beauty, the poverty, the joy, the dark and the light — in the Congo. News will continue to report on the latest and most titillating things that happen, not the on-going struggles of a people and a country, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t making changes. I kind of agree with Meg. “Trusting your journey, for a writer, is trusting your voice. The right readers will hear you.”

Think about me. You once wrote about adopting a woman in the Congo or another country. It was a brief mention about Women for Women International, but it led me to adopt a woman. So, your journey does create ripples. Always remember you are making a difference:~)

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8 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Keep sharing your journey Belinda. It’s the stories that allow people to connect. To relate. To understand. To help. To hope.

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