The Peace and Chaos of Not Understanding a Word Around Me

Jan 16, 2011 by    Posted under: Travel

There is something quite peaceful about not knowing what is being said all around me. I don’t get drawn into people’s conversations, idle chatter, discussions, arguments, or questions. There is no picking up on the thread of what people are saying to fuel my thoughts. No emotional or physiological attachment to the words floating around me. It’s just me and my thoughts. It feels very pure and quiet – a meditation of sorts.

There is the other side to this, as there is for everything in this universe, and that is the chaos I feel around not understanding what is being said around me. I never know what is going on, what the plans are, what is being discussed and decided, what the students are really talking about and how to be a part of this world I am currently in.

For the most part, I am too busy to think much about these duel feelings, but when they do pop up, I do my best to follow them to see where they take me.

Earlier this week in class, it was clear the students were beat. There was nothing I could teach from the book that would mean anything to them. So, I had them close their books and just started talking to them. This class was singing “I Have a Dream” from Mamma Mia, so I talked to them about dreams, how they could do anything they wanted to do. I asked each of them their dream and shared my own. I talked about how, with hard work and faith – faith in oneself and faith outside of oneself if the belief in an external force is present – any dream can come true.

I talked about how dreams are journeys that happen inside of ourselves as well as outside. How we have the ability to travel to new and exciting places every day. Places that are within ourselves. And, how important it is to go to these places, to discover the wonders that are us, discover the fears and scary parts that are us, discover the depths of who we each really are.

Don’t ask me how I did this with their limited English vocabulary, but even the most disruptive students sat quietly, looking at me and were fully present. My mother often says “The mind of the room has changed” in her workshops when the combined concentration of the students changes the energy of the class. That day, the mind of my classroom changed and for the first time since I arrived here I felt truly connected to this world I am currently in.

There was no peace, no chaos and I was able to really be with the people around me. To connect with this world of Korean English Camp in a way I had not before and have not since.

I truly enjoy the freedom and peace not understanding a word around me. The chaos I understand needs to be there for the peace to exist so, I enjoy the chaos and roll with whatever not understanding brings. This being said, I would find it difficult to exist for a long period of time in this place. I am an internal person by nature and this situation has the potential to allow me to fold too far into myself and disconnect with the external world in a way that isn’t bad, but is a place I don’t actually want to be. I need more than just superficial and periphery interactions with other people. It is the deep and meaningful connections that keep me fueled, alive and present in the external world. That one day in class, for that 20 minutes, I was met where I needed to be met to really be in this external world of Camp.

But, for now, for these three and a half weeks, I am happy to be exactly where I am – in the middle of a journey filled with unfamiliar and unknown words that offer their yin and yang to me in return for my presence and gratitude for them both.



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