Thursday, December 20, 2012

The First Time


What if we could experience something for the first time? Or give someone the ability to?
Imagine going through a moment, a day, or a lifetime, experiencing everything for the first time. The joy, pleasure and wonder of newness.
What would you think of experiencing?
The first time you hold your newborn baby.
Sunrise.
Ice cream.
First love.
That first kiss.
Waking up to the first day of holiday.
The look in your dog's eyes when you get home from a day out.
Driving through the gates of paradise into a place called Sewanee.
The taste of tea.
Meeting your friends.
Your parents' faces the first time you get home from a semester away.
Even the simpler stuff, all that we've learnt to take for granted.
I'm going to sit back and let this be my first time. All my first times.

Distance

"It is easy to be brave from a safe distance."
Aesop

Motion and Dance

A little known fact about me; usually I'm happiest when I'm in motion.
Walking around, pacing, driving, dancing.
I forgot how much dance meant to me until recently, and I couldn't be happier to rediscover it!
Growing up, I remember I would come home from school, and at some point in the evening, I would close myself in my room and dance for about an hour or more.
Nowadays, it's something I haven't had time for; or so I thought.
Sure, I go out with my friends and dance then, but it's not quite the same, and I'm so glad I realised this before it was too late.
I wish I could share how it feels, the catharsis, the emotion, the stillness of thought I find in dance.
Some other day maybe; right now, I'm going to dance.

Inspire

There's a lot of tragedy around us. More if we actively look for it. And it keeps piling up, and the world is sad, and women you don't know cry at airports because of it. Actions are being taken by those in charge, and we can back them with our support.
We ask ourselves though, what can we as ordinary citizens do about these tragedies? We can't change laws. We can't lead thousands.
We can choose how we react.
Let's choose to look to those who inspire, who lead, who are willing to sacrifice themselves to save lives. Those heroes who we lost and we now mourn. Let's believe in the innocence of children, and the inherent goodness that we as humans have. Let's remember those we lost and celebrate their lives and how they touched us.
Faith in ourselves and those around us will get us a long way.
As one of my friends said, "Spread some positivity today - let it ripple throughout our communities."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The end may be a new beginning

I've always thought about the journey. Starting it. Going on it. Never the end though. The end terrifies me, as I'm sure it does many people.
The uncertainty of knowing what knows after is as strong as the certainty that there is an after.
What could be the biggest end of all but death?
There. I said it. Ernest Becker, the author of The Denial of Death, believes that the fear of death is what governs most people's lives.
I can see that in some way.
Yet, there are so many other ends we are confronted with in our day to day life. Some we can prepare for; others knock us clean off our feet.
I remember when I graduated high school, and came to a university a whole continent away, I was terrified of the end that I had come to.
But then, there was a beginning.

Stories

There's something about the atmosphere of a cafe that makes life seem more romantic.
Stories and people mingle in ways that I can never foresee. For someone who loves people and surprises, I love being there.
There's a graduate student in the corner from Eritrea. He's working on a paper, but comes over to join us. We talk about running and soccer and being together and alone and philosophy and coffee. Always coffee.
Here's another, from Pakistan actually. He was pretty surprised that we were Indians not born in India. We spoke. About photography and vodka and people and physics and coffee.
All the while, I nursed my cup of tea.

Welcome to Tennessee

She came back.
She moved here when she was quite young. She lived here, studied here, played here.
By the time she went to college, she had already been. The first time home was an idealised relief, that was soon seen for what it was.
And then she left, on a three year sojourn. It doesn't matter where she went, but just that she did.
What was it about this place that called her back? She wasn't too optimistic about it, but is here nonetheless.
We spoke about lots, from politics to the marriage of clones. All flowed with the atmosphere of tea and coffee. Place didn't really matter right then, did it.
Now I ask:
Does she go back?

Search

Sometimes, to set out on a journey, you need someone to walk with you. They change the perspective of the road, and you realise that however much you moved, you really could not do it without them anyway.
One of my favourite quotes when I was younger was "There are no strangers here; only friends we haven't met."
It did make it easier to be around new people, but recently I realised that sometimes seeking someone out is much, much harder than waiting for them to find you.
At the same time though, sometimes the search is most of the fun. I've been thinking; what's going to happen when I do meet this person and they fit?
My journey to meet this person so far has taken me to various paths and people across Sewanee who I would never have met or even noticed before. I can only imagine that it's going to open my eyes even more.
Where has your journey taken you?

Moving in the Shadows

How many times have you set out on a journey that could take you everywhere; or nowhere?
I've never done it. I've never gotten into a car, and just taken off.
Or wait.. have I?
I was walking home last week when I bumped into someone I knew.
We started speaking and it turns out he knew someone else I should know.
I made a phone call that was soon returned, and managed to see how the dots were falling in line without any interference from me at all.
I'm finding these vehicles all around me now.
Hop on board and join me as I move in the shadows.

Giving Thanks?

Last week, hundreds of thousands of people gave thanks for something or the other. So did I. So did you.
It's a strange concept, if you really think about it. The fact that we have to stop and look for the things we're thankful for.
I guess it would be exhausting otherwise...
Having to go about all the time, everyday, with feelings of thankfulness. There wouldn't really be much cognitive energy for anything else right?
So today, I guess I'm thankful for the stranger things in life. The ability to stop and be thankful. The mistakes I've made.
You.

Lights and Confusion

What do you look for when you're lost? The familiar and the safe, the light perhaps.
I'll challenge you to step into the darkness and the blur, out of the box into another dimension.

Home

Growing up, I always took the places around me and related them to home. I'd see reflections of the outside world in my home.
Coming to Sewanee I realised it was actually the other way around; I carry pieces of home wherever I go, because it's about the people and things that matter, and not where I physically am. As I travel to different places, I will be asked where home is, and I'll say Nairobi. But I'll be secure in the knowledge that I can be at home far away too, and I'm cool with that.

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