Margie Hord

Expat by Default

Category: Race

Lagging Behind… or Going at Your Own Pace?

The trail around the small lake is the perfect place to walk or jog. Ducks and geese swim lazily and an occasional graceful heron can be spotted, preening or looking for a snack.

Bougainvillea arches cover some portions of the path. In the distance I may be lucky to spy one of the local volcanoes, sometimes tipped with white.

Run, Walk, Jog, or Amble

People of almost all ages show up in the cool of the morning. A few top-notch runners whiz by, obviously training to compete in races. Others jog along at a more moderate pace. A few, like myself, walk briskly, giving their bodies a fair workout.

At the same time, there’s a handful of walkers who shuffle along or move with a  gait, aided by their canes. Perhaps some have had a stroke and need to get in better shape.

Disabled… or Different and Able?

One man has an obvious limp, but runs along at a decent clip all the same. I don’t imagine he plans to enter any competitions, but he does beat me!

Even nature speaks of different abilities. One of the geese along the path has drooping wings, perhaps wounded in a fight in its “duck-eats-duck” world. No longer able to fly, it can surely still swim and fish all the same.

It is all too automatic to want to compare myself to others. I feel daunted when skilled athletes sprint by. Then again, it’s all too easy for me to feel superior when I pass others who are merely strolling along.

Different Styles

Style and purpose differ too. Some of my fellow-walkers are already attired more formally. A couple of women have their good earrings on; one wears a flowered scarf. A likely professional has his office gear on. I see that a few have come prepared with bread crumbs to feed the birds. I myself lose my pace all too often, tempted by wonderful photo ops.

The flora and fauna have their style, too. Besides the water fowl, there are two cocky roosters, and one of the workers speaks to them by name. More elegant, a pair of peacocks show off their iridescent plumage. Dressed to

impress!

Go at Your Own Pace

Wait a minute! There is really no need to compare. Casual or formal, fast or slow, focused on competition or therapy or the zest of life… each of us is unique. The point is not to parallel another’s speed, style or purpose. It doesn’t matter if others think I’m “lagging behind”, as I’m not in a race. The point is to live for my own purposes, or if you will, those I was made to carry out. The Creator has made each creature to be marvelously different.

Follow the pace and the path that’s set out before you!

Note: In a blog post last year, I linked the concept of “going at one’s own pace” in both physical and spiritual endeavors. 

It Takes All Kinds: Variety Even in Tiny Honduras

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Every community, town, or city is a microcosm. True, some may seem more homogenous on the surface, but undoubtedly once one dives into it more deeply, the world becomes complex. Even a very small country like Honduras, where I spent my childhood, has a surprising variety of people and cultures.

Growing up, I was sheltered from much contact with the “outside world”, always living in neighborhoods inhabited solely by Standard Fruit Company employees, with a high percentage of expats. Some that I remember were of American, Dutch, Indian, British, and Cuban nationality. An occasional visit to the market or to the countryside gave me glimpses of those more representative of Hondurans in general, but I can’t remember visiting many homes or really getting to know how they lived.

Our international school, with mostly American teachers, had only a small percentage of non-Hondurans. I found myself trying to fit in by imitating the Spanish accent of my classmates when I spoke English in the recess yard. Was that the budding linguist in me?

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Respect, beyond Race and Religion

A native of Burkina Faso has said, “As children, we grew up with people with differing religious beliefs—playing together, celebrating each other’s festivals and mourning each other’s death, with humanity as the overriding connector common to all.”  Recently, however, jihadists opened fire in a bustling café filled with foreigners and have targeted Christians on several occasions.

Alarming attacks have occurred more frequently in the United States in recent years, some of them random, but others fueled by religious fanaticism and white supremacism.

This is not new, by any means, but in first world countries, many thought such extremes had been overcome. Just this month I was privileged to hear pastor, author and activist Dr. John M. Perkins, a contemporary of Martin Luther King, in an interview by pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church (as part of the series Loving like Jesus in a Fractured World). Now 87, Perkins witnessed the upheaval of the civil rights movement, where his brother was killed by a racist. He himself was imprisoned and beaten numerous times, and as a result was tempted to seek retaliation. God made him understand, however, that in doing so he would fall into the same error of hatred, and in the end he became “a living legend…the founding father of the reconciliation movement”, in Warren’s words.

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Never Blending In: Racism Goes Both Ways

Growing up in Honduras, little by little I began to understand how the world I lived in classified people. I was pigeon-holed as a “gringa”, much as that technically means an American and I am Canadian. I recall walking to school and having someone yell “Gringa!” at me, and wanting to shout back: “I was born here; did you know that?” Even after four decades in Mexico, I realize that my skin color and features still scream “foreigner”, and even after long years of being nationalized, I am usually considered an outsider. Whenever I meet someone new, or even take a taxi, within minutes I am usually asked, “Where are you from?” or “How long have you lived here?” If the person is fairly young, I sometimes reply to the latter, “Longer than you!” (To be truthful, my accent is a giveaway too.)

In California, during a recent visit, some Latinos were trying to take turns to get a family picture with the Hollywood letters in the background. I offered to be their photographer, and they expressed their admiration for how well I spoke Spanish. I just told them I have lived for years in Mexico. Unfortunately, my accent isn’t as “native” as one would expect it to be, however, and even on the phone I’ve been asked, “Where are you from?”

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