Monday, September 11, 2006

Well Shit, Suddenly I Have Less to Talk About

So I've returned from a rather long trip to Kenya, Africa (I left the U.S. on the evening of August 23rd, and returned on the afternoon of Sat., Sept. 9th). My eyes have been opened wider, and my heart has expanded to include those whose hearts have all the reason in the world only to contract. In due time, I plan to blog about many things as I am able to reflect back on my trip, but first I would simply like to share with my cyber-audience, whoever you may be, a couple of my journal entries during my trip.

Soon I will be blogging about black kids with blonde hair and bloated bellies due to empty plates meant for food, too tired to swat the flies from their faces. I will blog about my host in a mud hut who tells old stories about how to kill elephants and cape buffalo (and other new friends I met along the way). I will blog about interesting experiences living for a week in a mud hut with a dirt floor. And I will also eventually blog about the drunk Sudanese guy in a refugee camp apparently agnry at the white man and holding a big wooden club. I will blog agian this night a bit about the Solis Foundation (the organization with which I took the trip) and the business opportunites that it plans to offer to those who would otherwise literally be scrounging in the trash heaps (not cans) of the poor for food. I will also blog about how the lowly and needy of Africa, I'm pretty sure, blessed me more than I them; we each have that for which the other longs (God works funnily sometimes). This post, however, as the title indicates, is about how, opposite of what one might think after returning from a "full and exciting" trip across the globe, I have had many of my words ripped right out of my mouth. I am being forced to find a tiny little target wtih my previously monstrous and bulbous arrows. This in the future may mean fewer words, with sharper tips. So, as promised, my journal entry, dated Sunday August 28, 2006, went as follows:

"I complain about my government and its beaurocratic machine. It won't be the same after this trip. Along the road from Nairobi to Nakuru was an old, unused, unkept and delapidated railroad, the maintenance for which the IMF gave to the Kenyan government a sum of money. Merely one rich Kenyan's pockets grew bigger. Meanwhile donkeys, human backbones, bicycles, carts and an occassional old and poorly functioning truck bears the difficult burden of transporting goods along a big pothole that passes for a road to some town quite some distance away. The only decent road in Kenya, it seems, is in the vicinity of the President's farm.

I complain about an American's fight for survival rather than life and freedom. Meanwhile the Kenyans' fight for survival gives them a dignity as foreign to Americans as Swahili; ironically most Kenyans know life better than Americans know survival. The idea of a rural Kenyan woman's entering a wet T-shirt contest makes me laugh just as an Angelino, hip-hop listening club-going youth might do so at the image of a Kansas farmer pushing a burdened donkey.

When I think of the gap between Kenya and the U.S.A as compared to the gap between Joe Schmoe Architect Architect in the U.S.A. and Louis Kahn (a gap that I previously fooled myself into thinking abysmal), I am amazed at just how far from the center of the univers I, as an American Architect supposedly hopeful to being in Kahn's footsteps, truly am. 'For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory...'"

I feel I have been silenced, given the opportunity to actually try and make listening the priority for once rather than hearing the speaking of my own voice. To what target will this voice lead? Were my previous life aspirations pretentions in a path opened by another voice, and (ironically) supported by my desire to hear my own? Architecture was first suggested to me by my 6th grade math teacher who noticed I was never really paying attention, as I was always drawing, but that I still did pretty well in her class. My actual "decision" to be an Architect was never made, but I eventually did fall in love with it, partially because I simply knew I was capable of being good at it. I feel my words, and the word that constitutes my life, are getting sharper, and getting closer to learning how to follow the tight line between bow and target. Recent voice in my head, "You mean just complaining about Bush's hypocracy, or the burdensome weight of beauracracy, or the eventual ill affects of enlightenment teachings (now obvious to all anyway after two World Wars), won't really help anything!?". Examples of ballooning arrows with no target, where the reality in Kenya awakens one to the need for both sharper arrows and a target. Lesson learned (or still learning); but will my arrow actually hit a target? "Torah" comes from "yarah", meaning "to throw", much like an arrow at a target...the Word pierces sometimes to the center of my heart.

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