July begins the final month of YAV. Just 4 more weeks until my YAV term has come to a close. Many people are asking about what reflections I have on this last year of my life. What am I taking with me?
But how do I sum up the last year of my life into a nice picture for everyone to see? How do I make all the moments make sense? All the interactions with CHPRA clients, the days when I’ve come home from work exhausted and yet fulfilled, the moments of laughter with my housemates, the moments of deep raw emotion too. All the good, bad, draining, fulfilling, inspiring, loving, hard, and growth moments.
I don’t think I can sum up any year of my life into a conversation. Much less this one.
Living in Tucson for the last year has been so impactful. So fulfilling. So educational. So life changing.
I can think of takeaways, but that phrase feels strange to me because that makes it seem like there is a concrete thing I am taking with me. That isn’t how I feel at all. I feel like I am leaving from this experience with a trail behind me that I have already walked and a trail in front of me. This is just a moment of change in the journey of my life, but not an ending.
Thinking of this as a journey reminded me of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. A poem that I used to love when I was in high school.
A camp I went to as a kid showed us a video every summer based around this poem. It was a classic at camp. Many of us long time campers knew all the words. The message of the film was that in order to curb global warming and have a good earth to live on, we need to take the road less traveled. Go against the norm to “all the difference.”
That is the message that I am reflecting on most as my YAV experience is coming to an end. I don’t want to go to a post YAV life that is fitting into the norms of society. These norms uphold systemic inequalities and I don’t want to be passive in these systems.
It seems like most people would agree that there is a lot of brokenness everywhere right now. But that brokenness doesn’t just fix itself. It requires work through analysing biases and injustices on personal and systemic levels. And it requires the work of going against the grain. Being open to new ideas. Refusing to participate in this brokenness.
The road less traveled isn’t easy but it is so worth it to have human rights and equality for everyone.
I believe we need radical changes to have justice for all people. And that requires all of us taking the road less traveled. We all have to go against these norms and put in the time to create a better world for each other. Post YAV, that is exactly what I want to do. My takeaway is the same one that I learned at camp as a teenager: keep taking that road less traveled because it does make a difference. And that difference is needed.