Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oh, hey there. It's been awhile.

There's a nice little spot in the corner of my porch that I like sitting on and watch the world go by. Last night at dusk I saw a figure rounding the corner with water jugs in hand. Lagging shortly behind was a much smaller, tinier being, also with the jugs. "Sara, you're all alone here on your veranda, what are you doing?" said my neighbor's husband with little Mariama standing beside him. Oh, just thinking, I replied. When asked about what I simply said, "life." In reality I was actually thinking about what to write about for my next blog entry, though I could never satisfactorily explain what a "blog" is, let alone the internet itself. I've been teaching a lot of people here to use a computer, and it's much like teaching an elderly person how to double-click, or highlight a word-they've simply never been exposed to this sort of technology before. But they're learning and learning quickly. Anyways, aside from unintended ageism (I love you, Nona!), I guess what has been guiding my thoughts lately is a certain class I took my sophomore year of college about various Eastern philosophies and religions. The professor was perhaps one of the most pretentious people I'd ever met, and almost rightfully so-he could sit atop the desk for the 2 hour class and recite ancient texts verbatim as well as recall dates and names that would take me at least a quarter to learn how to pronounce. Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, the Upanishads, it was all there for absorbing. And absorb I did. But what most intrigued me was the manner in which this professor could take the basic raw ideas of these non-western concepts-karma, moksha, samsara- and dissect them, piecing them back together by forcing us to apply them to context of our own lives. "Raise your hand if you would rather be somewhere else right now, honestly," he said. We all did, save for the one or two students who are either truly enlightened or truly brown-nosing. One guy said he'd rather be back in Hong Kong. Another said drinking a beer with his buddies. One girl said with her boyfriend. I couldn't really come up with an answer that made me sound interesting (my real response was probably to be back in my dorm room knitting or something) so I was glad when he didn't ask. His point was, why can't we be happy where we are at this very moment in time? And I've been thinking a lot about that recently because here I am in this beautiful, stunning, interesting and foreign place and all I can do is think of what's happening in the States. The shrimp are giant and juicy here, but all I want is a sandwich from Melt. The neighbors are hospitable and jubilant, but all I want are the Dowlings/Mansells. The World Cup games are riot-worthy and frenetic, but all I want are the Browns. The hardest financial decision I must make is whether to spend my savings on a TV, a refrigerator or a trip to Dar es Salaam. I wonder if wanting to be elsewhere constantly is a part of human nature, or an aspect of American culture and always wanting more. What I do know, however, is that me wanting to be home is because it's HOME. And I just really, really miss you guys. <3