Feeling Safe

Feeling Safe

Drošība un Miers


Safety and Peace…

I wanted to write a quick follow-up to my post yesterday about the vacation being over. I want to make sure that no one misunderstands my collection of mishaps and woes as a general reflection of my mood.

Yes, there are ups and downs, as there always are in life, but my general mood is mostly more peaceful and relaxed that it was while I was living in Omaha. I do not say this as a shadow on any relationships that I still hold very dear with all the people in my life, but I say it as a personal examination of my own view on life.

It took me some time to realize what I am feeling, and this view will also evolve and transform as I continue to become accustomed to this Latvian life, but what dawned on me was that I am not scared or afraid on a daily basis. Like a fish living in water does not understand what water is (until she leaves), I did not know about this constant anxiety that was a part of my American life until I left it behind.

What caused this anxiety? It is hard to say. Perhaps it was the mere idea that at any given time, a gunshot from someone could end my life. That is not a fear here. I have not heard of any shootings in the time I have been here. I saw just today that there was another tragic shooting death in Omaha. Or it could be that I have not watched any television since I have been here, so I am not bombarded by advertisements or loud people shouting at me about the things I should care about 24/7. But I think the anxiety in America is more pervasive than even these deeply rooted icons of our civilization. There is something about being in America that drives us. There is this constant push to do more, be better, catch up to your neighbors. I was chatting with a friend whose child is currently in two sports and constantly busy with both. Yes, Latvians are busy, always working to get by, but it isn’t about getting ahead or worrying about the future as much as it is just living and the daily chore of survival. They aren’t trying to keep up with some impossible phantom somewhere ahead in the distance. They aren’t obsessing about their children being one step ahead of all the other children. As a teacher, this manifests in not worrying that overprotective parents are going to sue me because I have their child a bad grade. Somehow, I think this tendency to not be in constant competition and future-focused lends itself to a more peaceful existence.

I am having a conversation with two colleagues right now, and one of them said, “My medicine is my garden.” They could not believe that so many American seek therapy, counseling, and take prescription drugs. I think that the word to describe American life is “obsessive.” We latch on to so many different things to worry about from the recent NFL thing, to the daily dose of Trumpisms, to war, and so on and so forth. They are not worried about all those things, especially things that are out of their immediate control. It is the mindfulness movement, but without all the work!

I do not want to over-romanticize this journey, but I wanted to touch on the deeper level of happiness that I think is inside of me despite all the small obstacles that I encounter in my daily life. Again, this feeling will evolve and change, surely, but now that I am aware of the water, I am not sure what it will be like to jump back in!


Side Note:

Today I had the joy and honor of having my first substitute teacher gig. They needed someone to cover one class. The rest of the school is on an Excursion. They take one day in September to go somewhere together. Each homeroom chooses a destination and goes. This year, it was a bike trip to a nearby town. Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

So I asked this group of 12th graders why they weren’t on the excursion, and it was punishment for some offense they committed last year. I thought as much. it reminded me so much of my high school days that I had to tell them the story of how we weren’t allowed to go to the zoo, and our senior trip was cut down from two days to one. We were the baddies. (90, 90, 90 90 90!)




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