The travels of Wisdom Road are 90% complete. I can now start to explore the lessons of this journey:
Where we live really matters. Place imprints on who we are. I, a child of suburbia and California, share many values with the people I meet along the way, but there are limits on how well I can know them, and them, me. I will never fully understand rich soil, the pulse of tides, life-giving rain, racism, tough city streets, deep poverty, or the quiet comfort of a tiny town like those who grew up and lived with these their entire lives.
Where we call home creates a multi-sensory lens that is unique to that place. We see, feel, touch, and know that place in ways that “others” can never fully share. Even if I live in Down East Maine for decades, I will never know the cold pain and warm gratification of pulling 250 lobster pots every day through a wet, foggy week of storms. Even if I sit in a circle with Native elders, I will never fully be a good relative, a partner of the land in the ways that permeate their wisdom. Even if I stop before each meal to think of where my food came from, I will never fully know the calloused hands, the dark early mornings, the deep soul-ties between family and land that delivered that food to my table. I will never really understand what it is to live in a skin that is other than White.
We can never be fully “of a place” that is not our own, but, oh, we can try! We can breach our own walls as simply as greeting a stranger, asking a question, showing we care. We can slow down and look deeply, rather than passing quickly by. No, I am never going to truly understand any of the people or places I visited, but I sure know more about them and feel more comfortable with them than when I left home to try.