10.28.2008 - 11.21.2008 60 °F
I’m home. Well…sort of. Well…I’m really not sure where home is anymore these days. Is it San Diego, where I last lived? Where what’s left of my belongings are stored? Where most of my friends are? Is it Virginia, where I grew up? Where my mother and sister live? Where yet another group of close friends are? Well, whatever. I’m in Virginia.
Aidan the goat
I get “home” and it’s an instantaneous rush. Rush of happiness to see my mom, sister and godson. Rush for time. Rush to see everyone. Rush of awareness. Rush to get ready for the Shkaa’la sale. But in the midst of all the rush, I feel slow. I think slowly, I react slowly. If it wasn’t for my mom, the sale would have never happened. But, in the blur and rush of everything around me, I realize I am more mindful. I stop often to give thanks to God for this and for everything I can think of. “Thank you God for such a wonderful mother…thank you for this comfortable bed…thank you for his beautiful day…” and the list goes on. I find I’m thankful and thankful and for the first time I’m actually stopping to give thanks. But I can see how it would evaporate here quickly without consistent daily practice.
Everything here is glossy and polished and in order. The streets are perfect, the houses are pretty, there are people walking their clean dogs around their clean block. I can’t take it all in. In my sister’s house, I am overwhelmed by the number things. I actually miss out on parts of conversations because I am lost in looking at, well, everything. Walls covered with hundreds of pictures, posters, calendars, post-its, clocks, paintings. Everywhere I look there is some thing to look at. Television is incomprehensible. The images fly out of the screen too fast, what used to be dialogue between characters sounds like noise now. Television exhausts me. In San Diego, at Mike’s house for Sunday football, their 10 televisions are always on, each on a different game and it is overwhelming. During the week, dinner is in front of the TV, Chad clicking from channel to channel, “nothing on” he says, but it’s kept on nonetheless. Outside I’m amazed by the traffic, the rush, the speed at which people walk, talk, drive. Thousands of cars on the highway, all going the same direction, most with only one person inside. I think of the gasoline consumed, the carbon monoxide produced, the money so easily spent, the absolute waste of it, one car for one person. When making plans with a friend over the phone I tell her I’ll be taking the bus downtown. I could almost see her rolling her eyes. “That’s ridiculous, you’re not taking the bus I’m coming to get you,” she says. “What’s wrong with the bus?” I say. She dropped it, like there was nothing to discuss.
The number of stores are overwhelming, the number of things being bought and sold, things that people hardly need or come to think of it, probably don’t even want but for some reason must have. There are more Starbucks than I care to count and they actually make me mad, annoy me. I’m not an economist by any means, but after Guatemala and Southeast Asia, it is clear that this economy is not sustainable or sane. It is completely out of control. It’s hard for me to watch…
I feel that I have changed, and changed, and changed and it seems strange that after nine months, everyone here is still talking about the same things. I realize this all sounds so one sided, and it is. This is what I know now. I hope I never let it go…but I also know that I love both worlds, the problem is, I only love parts of each. Both worlds represent extremes in many ways, extreme wastefulness and extreme poverty, extreme privacy and extreme reliance on community. I wonder where in the world it would be possible to have the ideal middle way, a balance of sorts. I cannot begin to imagine where this would be.