I’ll start by saying what the prompt “perspective-looking from both sides” means to me, as I’m sure we all have varying degrees of understanding of this statement. Being empathetic is very important to me. I strive to understand both sides of any situation, as to truly grasp what is taking place. To me, the human experience is not complete without the ability to recognize differences among one another and to then apply what those differences mean into our own lives. I have grown greatly over the past few years simply by relating other’s experiences into my own space in this world, giving me perspectives from multiple sides of this weird equation we call life.
Before coming to this country, my understanding of the “other side” was what I read in a book or saw in a movie or heard from a friend. The experiences of Bosnians were surreal and unreliable for me to garner any real appreciation for how I could learn and grow from hearing the stories. Now almost six weeks have lapsed since I entered this country and the stories and people that only existed in my mind are very much tangible. The stories jumped out within the first ten minutes of being here, as the journey from the airport to the hostel presented damaged buildings, delivered a harrowing car ride, and introduced me to a vibrant, wise Bosnian.
I’d like to say I’m not as overwhelmed as I was my first week or two here, but I can’t. Every day I am still amazed at how this country is trying to thrive in a modern, globalized world while overcoming some very deep wounds that have yet to heal over. I’ve been soaking in all I hear and see to get that other perspective, but it has been harder than in the past, possibly because of the short time I’ve spent here, possibly because of the immense context these lives unfold in, or possibly because the processing of this information will require me to step back and think upon my arrival back in Denver. Whatever the case, I do know that being in this country has been like no other experience before. Whenever the understanding/acknowledgement/acceptance of what this time with these people in this place means in my life context takes place, I do know I will be a much better individual who can take the knowledge and pass it along to those who do not have the privilege to be here.
I will leave you with a quote I turn to often by Denis Waitley: “You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.”