Whilst working in the Congo , my company was approached by an advertising company. The advertising company went through a somewhat broad presentation explaining the market we were working with. The presenter coined the word “Escapism” and told us how there were two aspects of life that were part of almost every person’s life and were effective. One was the Church and the other was Music.
He explained how both of these created an “escape” for the people; a people who were mostly struggling on a day-to-day basis. Music provided what I believe is a temporary escape, in the sense that when one was is listening to an upbeat song, gets caught up in the dancing, for that period of time a person’s problems seem to disappear. This analogy could also be said to be relevant to Television shows or movies as they do provide that temporary relief to the heart. Yet I have always found that these means simply seem to be a band aid on a wound and not really a cure to it. It is pushing the problem to a later time.
The Church on the other hand , while it was also labeled an escape, would involve admitting the difficulties in one’s lives and trying one’s best to overcome them and praying to a higher being for strength to get through the difficulties. While it was labeled an escape,it is a different kind of escape, if one is not running away but admitting then is it an escape? Is it not more as a man standing firm , admitting that there are shortcomings in his life and facing his difficulties by bowing down and asking for help. Initially, it is much harder to sit and pray rather than switch on the radio or watch a movie because the praying actually involves admitting that things aren’t working out according to plan. That one is not as capable as one may have thought. It involves the dissolution of the ego. It involves letting go and asking for help. Once the deed is done though, and the walls that protect the heart are brought down one realizes that it is the only truly safe place. It is the place where the heart can speak clearly and does not have to be held tightly so as emotion does not slip up. It is ok to be emotional with God. I find that amongst the less fortunate, they are more-often than not in this state. This, I find is more of a step towards a cure as even though initially it is much more painful it is like going into saltwater when one is cut. It hurts at first but slowly a strength does come from within and soothes it. One is no longer in denial but acceptance.
I feel like nature teaches me the same things. As winter fast approaches Toronto, I watch the trees. Every year, the trees know the winter is coming. Every winter, the leaves fall off, and a tree practically dies. Yet every spring it is literally brought back to life. Maybe we should learn from the tree who does not run away from its winter but stands firm and is rooted deep within the ground. We know that every year will bring struggles but with roots firmly planted and a bit of faith the spring will come too.
Patience was never one of my strengths. It still isn’t. I was used to doing things and doing them quickly. I’m physically unable to do nothing for more than 3 days. I get nervous and jittery if I have nothing to do. Yet sometimes ..sometimes all you can do is wait. You have no choice. I read a quote once that said “Patience is not waiting, it’s how you act while you’re waiting.”
For the last 6 months I wouldn’t say things were completely in my control. Actually a lot of it wasn’t. For example: I may have chosen to go to Tanzania and I may have wanted certain projects to go through but there are always people people who are higher up in the chain and need to pass a certain project. Food: wasn’t in my control either. I ate what was cooked whether I liked it or not. I ate a piece of bread or bread and egg everyday for breakfast. Breakfast used to be my favorite meal of the day. I totally stopped eating chocolate which for any human is probably hard but for a girl it’s a test! 🙂 Hot showers became a luxury – maximum 5 minutes of hot water.But yeah basically a lot was out of my control anger was just not an option because who was there to get angry at? I couldn’t be negative or angry with people who I had no control over. And that’s when patience was forced on me.
There have been many times when things are out of my control in real life too but there was always some way to not be patient. There was an easier way out, getting upset, or just being plain negative . There was always a quick fix. It’s been 6 months that I’ve been living kind of “outside” of the world. In the sense that in Kibaha I wasn’t really in proximity to anything that was what we define as the real world. I felt like I was outside of the force that sucked us into running from one place to the other and being in a massive race. I had time to realize what was important for me – what I wanted when I came back.
Today I’m in South Africa. When I landed and came into the airport – it was the “real world.” There were shops everywhere and bright lights and music in the background. Music that had all kinds of memories attached to them. People were on the go and I sat and had a coffee with my dad and watched all of them. People were on their laptops making the most of the free wi-fi. The airports in Tanzania and Congo are really just get in – go through immigration and get out and take your baggage.
Somehow the “real” world brings with it a sense of control. We think we are in control when we live in our own houses, drive our own cars, hang out with our friends. We want things and we want them fast. If we’re bored we eat or we shop or we go out with our friends – we escape..or we attempt to.I feel unrest in my heart after not doing anything for more than 2 days. It’s also probably the post-high of saving the world. One minute I’m saving the world the next I’m on “holiday” trying to plan out what’s next in my life. Every time I feel unrest I know I have that little bit of patience that I didn’t before and I try to exercise it, try to build on it. But it’s so much easier to just get upset at your circumstances.
I guess the real test of patience comes when you can be in the “real” world that is full of materialism and escapism and to sit still,look at your issues in the eye, have faith and just wait.