Last week I walked by someone on Broadway sporting a tank top that read, “I COULD CARE LESS.” If there’s anything I don’t want to be, it’s apathetic, indifferent and proud of it.
Right now I’m in seat 33-B wedged between my sister and my mom, a few hours before landing in Rwanda, and wondering what does it take to care? 36 hours from now my mom will skip her typical Saturday of mowing the lawn and my sister will miss family pancake duty. We’ll climb ancient volcanoes and hang with mountain gorillas instead.
We’ve talked about a trip like this since I first visited Rwanda in 2009. It’s taken a few years to drive home there will never be a perfect time for it, and a few pivotal life events to recognize just how crazy, unpredictable, lovely and tragic life can be. My takeaway: chase what you care about.
If you’ve ever gotten the stink eye from your dog while trying to leave home, witnessed a mountain gorilla giggle at his big sister goofing off or watched a baby elephant mourn the death of her mother and refuse to leave her side, then you know caring doesn’t make us human. But caring does make us vulnerable and opens the door to living rather than simply surviving. There’s a big, big difference. That ability and willingness to feel is magnetic. Knowing we’re not alone in experiencing it is humbling.
As we take off up those mountainsides and lock eyes with these fridge-sized guys, it’s a reminder that the emotion, curiosity, and compassion that pours out of these creatures is why we’re drawn to them–and is what may save them. There’s something about that primal connection, beyond our shared DNA, that triggers something in us. This feeling reminds me that I care, a lot. And that’s a good thing.
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