“Because it was starting to get dark and the streets were crowded, I bumped into a googleplex people. Who were they? Where were they going? What were they looking for? I wanted to hear their heartbeats and I wanted them to hear mine.”
Jonathan Safran Foer
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Although these are the words of Jonathan Safran Foer, it is really me talking and Chris, I know it is you as well.
I have spent almost a year now studying in Bologna, Italy and it’s been a lifetime. I’ have had the most amazing privilege of living and learning from three fabulous Italians and can honestly say that I’ve created a warm home and beautiful life for myself. Yet I have realized that no matter how hard I try I’ll never be able to express myself to them completely, that they will never see me how I see me, that some fundamental things about myself will never translate, will never make it over that barrier, that words are not just words but ideas, concepts, and emotions. I understand now the difference between being a liberal, open student and a liberal, open citizen. I know the agony of being generalized. I also know that with every experience a particular is automatically added to a chain of similar particulars that will eventually form a generalization, especially should it be a negative one. I know that openness can be a synonym for naive. I’ve realized that it is useless to tell others anything because in the end they already know it in the way they want to know it. I know that everyone feels justified for reasons they will never be able to express. I also know that all of what I’ve just said means nothing to anyone but me because all of that is founded on experiences that I will never be able to explain. I am 21 years old and I expect people to know and understand me from the moment they meet me. And you wonder why peace doesn’t exist in the world…. yet on the other hand, it’s kind of odd that it doesn’t when everyone, from the bottom of their heart, desires it above all else.
We’re listening for words; that’s the problem. Thanks to you, Chris, and the year you’ve given me, I know now what it is I’m supposed to be listening for: that universal beat that needs no common language or culture to understand. Finally, I know what it takes to be a global citizen. Oh, and Chris, I hear your heartbeat; it’s just a matter of time before we all get synchronized to it.