We made it to Jordan! Don’t worry, mom, I’m safe.
I’ve been in Jordan for a little over a day now. It feels like it has been a week since I left the states. So much has happened in this short time that I’m afraid I’m going to forget it all by day five. I’m not just worried about forgetting the itinerary, I’m afraid of forgetting even the tiniest details. I don’t like the idea of letting them go. I know on trips like this, there’s no way I can remember everything – but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to.
How could I allow myself to forget those packed-full elevator rides when someone joked about a power outage? Or the joy and pride on Rami’s face when he talks about his wife and children? Or the fraction of a moment that I shared a smile with a mother across the restaurant, and she knew I was admiring her adorable daughter?
How could I possibly filter those memories in order of priority? Is that really what I will have to do? I know at some point the images fade, but the feelings that came with them – I don’t want to lose any of those.
But this trip isn’t just about feelings. In my effort to remember every image and every emotion, will I forget that 3 million of Jordan’s 9.5 million-person population are not native Jordanians, and about 2 million of those are refugees from Iraq or Syria? It’s easy to ignore that, because it’s just a number. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t elicit emotion.
I don’t know exactly what I’m getting at here. I think that the loss of a few memories is inevitable when you have so many meaningful experiences in such a short time, and I fully expect to have quite a few. But I don’t want to be so focused on any one thing I want to remember that I forget to live in the moment. I want to be fully present here, no matter what it costs.
A funny quotation forgotten, a photo opportunity missed, a souvenir un-purchased – those things don’t matter. But is there a way to name the things that do matter?
I want to be a collector of connections. Between myself and God, myself and others, others and God, people in general – between events in the past and events in the present, between peoples’ paths in life, between stories.
The thing about stories is, they always mean something. The good ones, at least. They make you feel something. They are more memorable than images or feelings alone. When you hear a good story, whether it’s a 60-second anecdote or a 3-hour film, you know it. You walk away thinking “wow, that was really good,” but there’s no way you could recite it to another word-for-word.
You know a good story because it makes you think or feel a certain way. It might not even give you direction on how to think or feel. It might just yank at your heart and leave you wondering how you’re supposed to respond.
But that means it’s important. And whether or not I remember the statistics or the images, I’ll always remember the stories. Remember them, and share them. Maybe I won’t know how to react to them either, but I want to share them because they need to be shared. Stories are one of the oldest methods of teaching. To hear a story and learn is to participate in history. To hear a story and share so that others might also learn is to create history.
Let us, all of us, keep collecting stories. Let us be collectors of the meaningful connections we experience that lead to important feelings and thoughts and learning and discussions. Let us see the over-arching value of human connection and the possibilities created by embracing it. Let us share stories.
I’ll try my best to remember that when I’m worrying about memories.