Painting Pictures: The Third Way
Today’s Painting Pictures post is by Idelette McVicker. One year ago this month I wrote a post for SheLoves Magazine and then I received an email inviting me to join a community of stunning writers I knew almost nothing about. But when Idelette writes and invites you to something, you say yes because she is inviting you to joy and community and deep waters. My writing and thinking have been challenged, strengthened, and grown less isolating since that email exchange and all I can think of is ‘gift.’ SheLoves and Idelette have been gifts. I am thankful and honored to host her words, always brave and strong, here.
Glimpses of a Third Way
I have a favorite laundry detergent on three different continents.
Growing up in South Africa, my mom used Skip. She stood in the laundry room and mended and ironed and listened to SABC radio on both warm and winter evenings. I learned to buy Tide in Taiwan from the Wellcome supermarket (with two l’s) and now I shop for earth-friendly Ecos at the Costco on King George Highway.
When I lived in Taipei, I stocked up on my favorite toothpaste (Mentadent P), my favorite roll-on and Freshpak rooibos tea whenever I visited Cape Town.
I’ve had bank accounts in Africa, Asia and N. America.
I learned to eat pancakes for breakfast at Jake’s Country Kitchen on Chung Shan North Rd. in Taipei and learned there. in that city to shop for tealights at Ikea. It’s where I had my first American Thanksgiving, celebrated Diwali and spent Christmas eating vegetarian food with Ananda Marga monks, while on assignment.
I’ve celebrated the national days of Turkey, Jordan, Honduras, Guatemala, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, Haiti and more at elaborate banquets, while my scooter was parked on the sidewalk outside the hotel.
I wore Chinese silk for my wedding dress, created by a kind tailor in Taipei, on a freezing November day in Vancouver.
When I first learned about Third Culture Kids, so much of it resonated. This concept—of somehow being part of a third and unique culture outside of the dominant culture we live in–helped give me understanding for my way of seeing the world. I may not have grown up in a third culture, but I’ve spent half my life finding my way on the other side of getting off that plane at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in 1995.
I can never go back. Nor do I want to.
I am a Third Culture Adult, an immigrant, a global citizen, an outsider.
Now, not only am I a proponent of a global way of embracing the world, I also think those of us who have done so, get to see glimpses of a Third Way.
This Third Way—a Way where power shifts to the margins and becomes Love and understanding—come to us through different experiences, I believe. Mine just happened to come by walking through the door of a global life.
I also believe it can come through experiences like deep pain, or loss, or struggle or grief.
Scott, my hubby, lost his mother as a young teenager. She’d filled his life—had been the wind beneath his wings—and when he lost her, he wandered out to the wilderness to grieve and mourn and find himself in a different way towards the future.
His life was broken open by this grief and loss and he tasted this other way, so when I came from worlds away, we could meet each other here.
That’s why, even though he’s lived all his life in a 50-kilometer radius, our home is a home for many. This is why our door is open, to let the sunshine in, the sounds of neighbourhood and friends and virtual strangers from around the world.
Maybe this is why the Sermon on the Mount calls us blessed when we are mourning; blessed when we are humble.
Blessed when we eat last; blessed when we understand our shortcomings.
We come to this Third Way by being broken open and it becomes blessing.
We come to this Third Way whenever our story shifts and we suddenly find it doesn’t quite run according to our expectations.
This Third Way comes when we find ourselves on the outside of the dominant story.
Becoming an immigrant broke me open for this other Way. It splattered me and poured me out, so my old container no longer worked.
Here on the outskirts, pioneering a new life in Canada, no previous degree or family line or achievement or friend could speak on my behalf.
I learned that our essence, without the trimmings and the branches and the shade or even the fruit our lives may offer, is enough.
Once we are broken open like this, we inevitably spread out and set up camp outside of the center. This is where we find our hearts open and exposed, our lives vulnerable without the re-enforcements of the city wall.
We learn that we need each other, like daily bread and a little wine.
This Third Way is not hierarchical.
It’s a movement outside of the center.
Often it’s finding each other through conversation and food.
Memories of bi bim bap are mixed in with memories of a family braai on a Sunday afternoon.
Sharing stories over a steamy bowl of noodles or while sipping a Fanta under a thatched roof in Burundi, unite us.
We, the mish-mashed participants in a Third Way, know that we can’t survive without connection.
We know that, essentially, we are the same. And it’s not strange when the woman in the Costco aisle, both of us leaning over our carts, tells me my Gabrielle has a twin walking about in Afghanistan.
We see this essence in each other.
Our world only makes sense because of the people.
I tried so hard to find my place in this world. I yearned so long and hard for home and then one day, I realized there had to be a different way. That’s when I stopped looking for home and became home.
I stopped looking for Peace to appear from outside of myself and I am owning—slowly and humbly—my part in making Peace. I have a part in picking up the pieces and mending the broken pieces and finding the missing pieces. We are all part of shaping this different world.
I’ve come to understand that how my daughters treat each other—how they become peacemakers in their little messy room with the bunkbed and the Ikea rug in the suburbs—is important work of Peace. I’ve begun to get a glimpse that how they are with each other, is also how they learn to be with the world.
I don’t always get it right. (Just ask my girls!) But I want to do it better.
I imagine that if we could all meet the girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or in Moldova, we’d hate for anything bad to happen to them. When we shift to friendship and a closeness—when the world is no longer big, but small—then standing up for justice, is no longer something we should do, but something we want to do, because these are our friends, our sisters, our daughters.
When these stories of bombs and fear and poverty are no longer far away, but when they become close, because of the people we’ve connected with or the experiences we’ve lived, how can we not believe in a different Way?
We’ve tasted and we’ve seen.
I love cinnamon buns, vanilla Rooibos tea and sweet chai. I drink my lattes plain, but most days I think animal print is the new black. I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women.
I have three children and shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen.
I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.
I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 14 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us.
I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.