Where Are You

Anthony Trendl with world map

August 30, 2023

This week has taken me across the globe. I’ve had video conferences with people in Hawaii, Australia, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Mongolia, South Africa, and France. Phone calls to Canada and Ireland. Locally, I’ve had conversations with people born in Korea, Hungary, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Romania, Jamaica, India, the US Virgin Islands, and Taiwan.

I might be missing one or two.

Where Are You?

I’ve spoken with world leaders, finance managers, artists, international law firm partners, electrical engineers, factory workers, inventors, and CEOs. Some were wealthy beyond my imagination, and some struggle to make ends meet each week.

Some might say it’s a small world. It’s still a large world. Even though airplanes can get us from one side of the world to the other quickly, the cultural and geographic differences are tremendous. It doesn’t matter that tools like Zoom can allow us a conversation with the kind of immediacy that feels like we’re having coffee in a small cafe. We still have great divisions, war, and a variety of multicultural and political disputes.

And yet, the world is small. With each person I spoke with, a few truths were consistent for all of us. We all want to be loved. Professionally, we have a job which we want to do well. We do want to love our neighbors, but we don’t always know what to do. It’s true that there are bad actors out there who would hurt others for their gain. As noisy as they are, most of us want better things for ourselves and for each other.

So often in a Zoom conference, all I will see is a blurred background, or a generic office. I have favorite scenes for my background. You don’t need to see my printer or stack of office supplies. I’d rather you see something more important to me. This week, it was a wheatfield in Kentucky. When I took it, I kept thinking how this is “amber waves of grain” as so, aptly written by Katharine Lee Bates in her famous church poem-cum-patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.” America is beautiful, but so are so many other places. You might see other photos I’ve taken, from artistic looks at coffee beans to the glamorous Luna moth, to wetlands found not far from my home.

I have in my studio a large map of the world. When I’m on the phone with someone from somewhere else, I’ll take a look and imagine them where they are. What do they see when they look out their front window? Kangaroos? A mountain range? A busy street?

We all live full and real lives wherever we live, wherever we work, and it’s wonderful.

I hope your day is as good as I’m expecting mine to be. Have a happy day wherever you are.

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