Sometimes the world feels so vast, it’s people too many and the weight of it to heavy to bear. At those moments, and if you were a person that enjoys their own company with the endless mazes ripe with possibilities of self discovery, then the obvious result would be a self engineered containment. It can have the color of your own choosing, a palace on a hill or a hut on a beach, butterflies in its gardens or pebbles on its beach, the choices are endless.
So, I travel in my mind to my own palace of containment, letting my mind chart the journey and my spirit project the destinations.
I remember walking as a very young child in our small mountain village in Lebanon, and just as I passed the old movie theater that used to only play Indian tragedies, an English word popped in my head. At that time, English was quite foreign to me and my vocabulary was extremely limited, yet somehow an adult word appeared: “determined”. I never forgot that word and I only learned its meaning years later as a teenager. It was one of those strange life moments that are very difficult to explain. This little story brings me back always to ‘the way’, and for me there is a way that I know I need to follow if I listen carefully to the same nudging that introduced the word “determined” to me. And as with all good things, the way is never the easy one…
Speed is definitely a word I would associate with New York, sometimes to the level of being dehumanized. I remember times when I received phone calls at work and hung up 2 seconds later because I thought the person on the other line was speaking too slowly. Other times when I called more relaxed places I had to always ask if they were sick and why they spoke in such a strange way. New York can do that to you and it normally takes quite a while to slow your street walk back to match the speed of pedestrians in other cities. As for your inner peace in a whirlwind like this, it becomes a priority to achieve and to guard.
Being alone in our world today is a luxury that my soul yearns for everyday. There are so many parts of ourselves that need us to check in with them that not doing so can cause so much undue stress. The alone moments I take for myself everyday cause such a great sigh of relief in me and I walk away from my time alone with a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration. I remember taking long trips to places like India to be alone in my early twenties and returning with a sense of calm that is not possible to attain in any other way than self reflection. I wonder if this is how a sailor might feel.
photo taken: a lone boat on the shores of Boracay~ philippines
Sometimes it takes being in a far away place and simply gazing across a horizon to appreciate something so simple such as color. Color surrounds us and permeates our lives on this rich planet and a realization as obvious as blue and yellow making green can be so profound.
Do you ever go to a new place and feel that you want to attribute a color to it. Despite the crystal blue waters, the brilliant white sands, and the thick green forests of Boracay, the color that impressed itself on me after my visit was yellow.
Back in 2009, when I visited Congo, there were about 300,000 children roaming the streets of the country and categorized under the name “les enfants de la rue”~ children of the street.
I interviewed some of these children in the CAJED center in Kinshasa, a Congolese non-governmental organization created in 1992 to lodge, care for and support vulnerable children, including children separated from their families and those formerly associated with armed groups, before reunifying them with their families and/or reintegrating them into their home communities. CAJED has been a UNICEF partner since 2004.
This girl in the photo caught my eye as she was passing across the way. She had a haunting look to her and eyes so expressive, they took my breath away. She was not one of the children I interviewed, she was just watching from a distance and her story was kept to herself, so was her name. I call her ‘the beautiful girl in front of the yellow door’.
We rode camels into the south of Egypt and there we met the Nubians.
Nubia, the desert region between southern Egypt and northern Sudan, along the Nile river and home of the Noba people, is where I met this beautiful woman. A stark contrast to the almost inhuman and eerie remains of ancient Egypt, the Nubians are full of gentle smiles, simple ways, and colorful surroundings. Most of the homes were painted in light blue and the faces radiated a glowing brown. Heirs of old kingdoms and a complex relationship with ancient Egypt, the Nubians have a great air of mystery around them and their ancient culture.