My Big and Small World
I live in a small and big world, characterized by both distance and closeness, a dynamic place that changes at every second — my mind is constantly travelling back and forth with every new experience, every observation, and every flashback of an old memory.
The world becomes big as I observed it from a plane, the vast ocean that seems to never end, the mountains and valleys, the big cities constituting just a small part of the ample landscape. But as soon as I come up with a picture taken from the space our earth becomes a mere sphere in the vast universe. My world is suddenly small.
The world becomes smaller when I read a book and I have the realization that I have been to the place the author describes — I walked through that same street, I ate at one of those restaurants, I observed the appearance of the people walking by and I had the same insights than those of the distant author whom I have never met before.
My world becomes small as I run surrounded by corn crops, the landscape of the American Midwest, while listening to Tom Jobim and Jorge Ben Jor. Or when I write a paper in English about Chile’s Technology during Allende’s government while listening to the amazing Paraguayan guitar composer Agustín Barrios Mangoré.
My big world became small as I used Skype to record the wedding of my Paraguayan friend in Minnesota so that her Paraguayan relatives could see it at home. We never met in person but we talked and laughed together as we waited for the ceremony to start. Later we shared tears as it finished — they cried because of the emotions and their desire to be present, while I drop a tear because I knew how much they wanted to be in my shoes, because for them the world was too big, the distance was too large.
The world becomes small as the worship team from my college plays the same song we use to sing at my church at home. But it becomes big as I realize that I am the only one singing with my hands held high. It becomes small as I make a Paraguayan dish in my small kitchen, have a meal with Hispanic friends, or my Canadian roommate cooks with expertise a Paraguayan food even though he has never visited — I even created a term for this phenomena: “gastronomic colonization”. But it becomes big as I strive to look for certain specific ingredients in a store. It becomes immense as I wished I could sit in the same table with my mother and my siblings. It becomes huge as I end up eating alone with the TV on.
The world becomes big as my friends leave, as they graduate and return home. But after some time it becomes small again, as we keep in touch once in a while, as I text them through whatsapp, as I get a random call, as they tell me they are praying for me. It becomes small as I look at the world map and I no longer see national divisions but faces, stories, and memories.
It becomes even smaller when the pain that seems distant touches people that are near me. Like the time my Rwandan friend told me about the genocide in 1994. Or the time I told a friend the news about the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 being shot down, to later hear that one of his relatives was in that flight. Or the moment my Kenian friend expressed her concern for her high School classmate as she heard the news that 147 college students were killed at his college. All that seemed so distant is somehow near me, it becomes palpable, the strange now had a name, a face and a story.
But it becomes big when pain reaches those who are far from me. The distance is so big when my younger sister cries over the phone, my brother expresses his frustrations in a text, my older sister is anxious about big decisions or my mom is sick. The hardest part of being away is not to miss the great moments of happiness that my loved ones experience, like the time my sister got into med school or the trip they made after a long time of not going on vacations together. Even though I wished I could be there I can still share their joy while being away.
The hardest times of being away are the difficult ones, the times of doubt, of uncertainty, of pain. Those moments when I wish to give them a hug and I can’t, when I wish to just be there in silent but still be present. When I just want to pray with them and not for them. The hardest minutes are the ones in which I just need to listen, those times when they need to tell me things and talk, but the internet connection does not allow us to. Those are the times that the world seems too big.
The world is big, the world is small, reality is complex, a paradox. Time and distance create a four dimension — Einstein said that the speed of light is the absolute in this dimension, while distance and time become relative. But this morning it seems that the absolute is not present, today what matters is the distance, distance is the absolute…it seems that the distance is so big that despite light being extremely fast it can’t arrive, it can’t make it through…My world is too big, too large.
But despite all that I choose to believe in the existence of a different absolute, I still choose to believe that soon a tiny little glimpse of light will shine through this huge distance. I still believe that this four dimension is real. . . I still believe that as I look through the tunnel of this small and big world of mine I will catch a small of glimpse of light. There will be light at the end of the tunnel. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Distance won’t prevail. Darkness will vanish away.
So this morning the world felt small for some seconds as the Pastor reminded us of Jesus words after his resurrection “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).
I know that somewhere in this four dimension light is travelling extremely fast with all of its power and magnificence. Light will shine through. I hold on to that. Light is not dead. Light is my absolute.