I just boarded a flight to Vegas for a conference when a young lady shyly asked if she could scoot into the window seat beside me. I got up and complimented her on her shoes as I sat back down. She quietly said thanks and after settling in started calling someone on the phone.
It was her dad. No one seemed to have understood the conversation, not that the people around us could hear, she was so soft-spoken. It wasn't so much what was said but the language it was exchanged in. They were speaking in my native tongue and the whole thing reminded me of myself 15 years ago. Young, sheltered, venturing out for the first time out of the country I called home my entire life.
Her demeanor resembled mine at the time - timid, didn’t talk to anyone unless spoken to, called Daddy for help or just to chat, always nervous, painfully awkward, clueless about what's next but brimming with excitement surrounded by everything new.
I gawked at everything. The unfamiliar vehicles, the billboards along the freeway, the intimidating skyscrapers, people of different shades and faces speaking in indistinguishable languages, the way they smiled, and the random friendliness I wasn't accustomed to.
Wherever I went, whether it was a new city, the grocery store around the corner or a park with towering redwoods, all my senses had their fill of novelty. I found myself replanted in a different field, where the air was refreshingly unpolluted and my new surroundings felt full of promise, though only time would tell if this was the right place for me.
15 years later, I'd say it was. It took several seasons. Seasons of drought where I fought to survive, but also seasons of abundance, though those initially came in short bursts. But short as they were, it was enough to provide a glimmer of hope that this could all work out; that if I just kept fighting, moving, adapting, the bountiful harvest will be waiting for me around the corner.
I look at my surroundings now, the work I do, the people and relationships I'm grateful to have, the places I've seen, the experiences I've had, the challenges I’ve struggled with and the person I’ve become in the process, and I look back at the young girl sitting beside me, her quiet conversation with her dad bringing a smile to my face. She still has no idea how beautiful her next 15 years could be.
Only in hindsight can we see,
Lillian Too’s Mandala Team Member, Marge