Friday, July 08, 2016

the one where i learn i am the slow goose

(transcribed from my journal)

today, perched atop the scaffolding - feeling the heat prick my bare neck and the weight of a heavy brick in my hand - i looked across the village and thought to myself, "i could live this life."

a romantic, western notion to be sure, but sincere in the moment. i haven't had internet for days - no phone, no email, no facebook - and i don't miss it. instead i have people i look in the eye and talk to, people who laugh when language fails, people who have stories and theories and opinions. instead of netflix, i have Life.

this afternoon, under the chief's tree, a wild game of "baka, baka, goose" broke out. over 50 kids and a couple of our team sat in the dust, grinning like fools as hands tapped heads - "baka, baka, baka...goose!" mothers with babies tied to their backs gathered to watch, laughing out loud as their children and their friend's children raced around the circle, kicking up dust, sliding safely into the empty seat.

i sat in my place, watching. it was amazing... such a paltry word for a profound experience, but language fails me here. i watched a beautiful girl of about nine come toward me, smiling knowingly ... baka, baka, baka....goose!

i heaved my tired body out of the dust and took off as fast as i could. around the first corner i looked over my shoulder and she was right on my tail... second corner, closer...third corner, wipe out! the dry dust slid smoothly under the mortared soles of my shoes and i was down, to great hilarity from all corners - kids, moms, my friends ... it was glorious.

i was it now. i baka-baka'd my way to a girl i had seen eager to be chosen. it wasn't even close. before i even made it around the first turn she was on me. i tried again, a younger kid, same result. third time's a charm, and i managed to outrun a slightly confused but eager toddler...and that just barely. i was officially the slowest goose in the pack, and there was a target on my back. i lost foot races one after the other until i surrendered to sit as a spectator. my heart was fat and happy. 

when i say i could live this life, i think what i'm saying is buried in my previous thought (yesterday's blog) about wealth. i am used to living a life where what makes me rich is what i have. i am seeing profoundly here that what makes me rich is what we have. i am envious of their interdependence and community.

the camaraderie and easy exchange between the men who help us build is infectious. the work is hard and back breaking, but they do it together - setting lines, mixing mortar, throwing bricks like cotton candy while they flash smiles at our shock and awe. these houses we build will owe their existence to many hands who know each other and care about what happens to the members of their village. it surprised me to recognize the thought that ran through my head as, "i could live here, like this, if these were my people."

i am dissatisfied with so much of my life ... today i recognized that as the ache to be part of a communal life... where many hands make light work and big messes, and laughter eases a tired arm and a tired heart.  i have no idea how to carry this home, how to re-order my life. but what i have seen and experienced can not be unseen.

when we first drove to salima, i thought i was seeing aching poverty. i think now that i was not. 

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