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Paradise Paradox



 

What is paradise? Do you think of beautiful weather, good food, and great company? Perhaps, your religious or spiritual values take you to an afterlife vision of paradise.


According to Merriam-Webster, a paradise is a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight. If you accept this definition, it is a place and feeling.


Merriam-Webster defines paradox as a person, situation, or action having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases. It's an individual, condition, or encounter that challenges your expectations.


On any day, I can use paradise and paradox to describe life in Antigua.


Hear me well. I am grateful for everything that comes with the blessing of living on this island, raising a family, and engaging with meaningful work. Nothing compares to the kindness of the people, the weather, and the landscape.


Standing on Antigua’s white sand beaches and observing the blue water ahead fosters feelings in synch with understanding paradise as a location and an emotion. Yes, it's that beautiful.

The paradoxes in paradise become visible when you leave the tourist attractions. You must disembark the cruise ship and exit the hotel lobby to experience life on the island.


I rent a beautiful home located near a secluded beach and the university. The fenced yard has enough space for my three children and a massive dog to play. Despite the proximity to my work and the sea, we have water shortages and electric outages on an almost weekly basis.


When you stay on a cruise ship or in a hotel, you will not experience challenges with water or electricity. The water will flow from the faucet, and multiple generators guarantee a constant current.


Let's talk about food.


Do you enjoy access to the same groceries every week on the same shelf at the same store at roughly the same price? That's a lot of sames.

Consistency creates comfort.


Living in Antigua mandates that you learn flexibility and accept delayed gratification. There's a variety of grocery stores with staple products. However, the brands, prices, and quantities shift after almost each shopping trip. Some days, I go to three stores to find frozen pizza.


I am grateful for the finances and a car to drive, but I have moments when I don't want to run multiple errands.


You know every second and minute of our lives is precious.


Time is everything and nothing in this paradise paradox I call home. The expectation for private and public services is that you arrive early for appointments that often start late.


Banks offer every customer gifts wrapped with patience. Regardless of pandemic mandates, the lines often stretch from the teller to the parking lot.

My family has received almost five years of free lessons in patience to get our children into the premiere private schools. Ex-pat children without Antiguan citizenship status do not qualify for public school enrollment. The names of my three little ones were added to multiple waitlists when we arrived in 2018.


Perhaps we are outliers. Some families manage to skip the list of names waiting for seats. Wealth, class, connections, and preferences create opportunities for some and exclude others, even in paradise.


When frustrations rise to almost unsurmountable levels, I think about returning to live in the United States. Despite the deplorable gun violence that took the lives of Alexandra Olmo and Jael Omar Burgos in Chicago, other mass shootings, and the recent tragedy that took Tyre Nichols’s life in Memphis, ideas about moving back cross my mind.


The paradise of being with family, friends, and good old-fashion American paradoxes is comforting.


I might have access to consistent products in grocery stores. Most of my appointments might start and end on time. My children might receive an education at a prestigious school.


The mights play with my emotions and mask the challenges in any location.


You may read some of the previous statements and assume Caribbean living is awful. It's not. There are many aspects of Antigua that I love.


This week started with a hike to Mt. McKnish. My boys, two friends, and I climbed the path surrounded by green trees and lemongrass fragrances to a picturesque view. The temperature never dropped below 70F/ 21C.


Similar outdoor experiences are impossible in Chicago. The terrain is flat, and January is cold. Visit Chicago during the winter, and you will feel why people call it “The Windy City.”


Challenges sneak under the front door and find a bedroom wherever we call home.


We can use the frustrations, inconveniences, and problems as justification to quit or transform them into the fuel that pushes us to fight for the life we desire.

February is Black history month. During The Great Migration, Black families moved north and west to communities that promised paradise. The paradoxes of new opportunities protected by racism and violence met many families at the bus and train stations.


Alongside other leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a movement guided by love and justice to dismantle racial and economic discrimination practices. Although King presented himself as a saint in public spaces, he had some human experiences behind closed doors. King's dream of an American paradise conflicted with the paradoxes in his life.


Below, see the video of my presentation about Dr. King's legacy. My discussion of his contributions to freedom movements is not perfect, but nothing in life is, and I hope you get that sentiment by the end of this sentence.

 


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The journey continues, Dr. Lindsay. Others have shown us their way, but we need to find ours. Sometimes our dreams may seem too large, but with God's help, our dreams are microscopic.

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With God's help, our dreams are microscopic! I like the way you think


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