I've kept the trip to Rwanda mostly to myself. It was initially a possibility that was remote, a lot of planning and the likelihood of me going, quagmired with indecision. Recently, I have begun to tell more people about the trip. I'm excited, I feel as though I am on a precipice, a moment of truth, a hiatus in time where I'm at a crossroads and my decision will change forever the course of my life.
Its a question that I frequently get asked. Sometimes its with a quizzical smile, others with a perplexed frown of incredulity. Usually, I speak of opportunities and what a great learning experience it will mean to me. Many of my co-workers feel compelled to warn me of the dangers.
"Its Africa....its dangerous", as though Africa truly was the "God-forsaken wilderness” that Joseph Conrad's character Marlow claims it to be. Then if that does not sway me, they add knowingly that "there was a genocide in Rwanda you know". Why this should dissuade me I'm unclear. For their gentle concern I am grateful. However, the simple question of "Why Rwanda?" has also made me truly think about it.
Since my father in law killed himself, I have realized that life is a series of opportunities. One may choose to grasp the good into intangible happiness or one may deny that happiness exists and choose to live in insecure moments of time. I choose to feel that happiness are manifestations of the opportunities that one claims for oneself. I choose my opportunities and I strongly feel that by going to Rwanda I am claiming yet another moment. Of course there is the ability to learn, to share and explore a different culture, to live on the massive continent and feel the rain on my face and the dirt beneath my feet. Yet, there is also a stronger calling, one that goes beyond the materialistic affects of the society I live in.
"It's extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts."
Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim
There is also a deeper realization that exists. The feeling that one is never alone in this world. Like the theory of chaos, everything is interconnected and the butterfly fluttering at one end of the world can truly cause a hurricane. I feel strongly that my colleagues in Rwanda are not so different from myself. We share a sun, breath the same oxygen and laugh at the same stars in the sky. Should we not also share the same desires and secrets? The wish to learn, to progress and to grow?
Here is an answer, I refuse to travel my journey with eyes half shut, with dull ears and with dormant thoughts. If this does not convince you, ponder another saying:
"Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose"
Janis Joplin - Me and Mr. McGee