in the extremes
September 9, 2011
I live in a land of extremes. Now I knew this as a fact well before arriving. But I could never have prepared myself for the reality of the fact as it relates to life . . . to my life, at least. This morning a question posed by a friend struck a strange chord in me—a chord that I am realizing is indirectly, but strongly, related to this “extreme” reality.
“What do you find beautiful there?” she asked. And it took me a while to answer, as I realized that I have been caught up with the great differences—with the ways in which my transition has felt slow and painstaking. This is due in part to my previous experiences with such opposite cultural and societal tendencies than the ones I find here. It is also partly due to the simple stresses of trying to figure out a new job, and trying to do it well. The internal stress caused by this preoccupation has stunted my usual joy in observing my surroundings. I love to be a proverbial fly on the wall, taking note of the details, and storing them up internally so I can later spit them out again, figuratively speaking, in the form of some creative outlet, be it written, photographic, musical, painted . . . danced, perhaps.
So what do I find beautiful here? I have given a bit of photo hints to this already here, as you may have noticed.
I find the roses beautiful. I find the view from my rooftop beautiful. The kites are oddly beautiful, lovely in the way one finds them everywhere, caught and suspended in the most unexpected places.
But the most beautiful thing to me at the moment, in this land in which at times [like now] we are unable to step foot outside the gates of our school compound, are the people. The children are beautiful. My students are beautiful. My coworkers are, truly, beautiful. Like one of my housemates who arrived late, delayed by a sudden surgery. And now, the day after several days of travel, she is hard at work in her classroom, happily readying for tomorrow’s arrival of her second graders. She has been losing track of time, and I keep having to return to tug her away for meetings and meals.
Beautiful, working hands.