Saturday, August 21, 2010

on a positive note

After getting my tail in gear for a short walk this morning, I stopped to talk with my neighbor Joe about his recent two-week trip to Kenya. He had gone as part of a church effort to lend a hand to people who had less.

It blew him away. Before he returned home, he gave all the clothes in his suitcase away. He helped build mud huts. He helped set up a water tank that had piping to the nearest source, some half-mile away. He received what food these poor people offered. He told stories to children.

Joe is nearing retirement and had spoken before about wanting to help others in some way. The trip to Kenya put his wishes squarely in his face. Standing outside his middle-class home across the street from mine, he seemed newly-embarrassed by all the stuff he had ... all the stuff that was nice enough but not really necessary. He wasn't about to pull some Walden runaway, but he was clearly moved, clearly touched, and clearly somewhat confused: What was his next move? He tried to define and enclose the topic (God came into it, for example), but it didn't really work. His happiness was ... well, confusing.

How nice to hear someone feeling positive about doing something positive.


  1. Sir,

    I was attracted to your stories, I think what led me here. On top of that I read vaguely somewhere before that you served in army, being a war junkie it raised my eyebrow, although I have no interest in knowing you.

    My first story during childhood, heard and long forgotten. I think it was the Gingerbread Man.

    The old woman made a gingerbread man and wanted to serve to her family during teatime. The gingerbread man refused to get eaten, and decided to run across the county to escape the hungry foxes and ducks that wanted a slice of it.

    The question that remains unexplained in the story was, how did the gingerbread man come alive? It was just dough.

    The fear of the gingerbread man to be eaten was just as confusing. The old woman did not say "Let there be life".

    She just said, "Let me have children", and "Let me make gingerbread", and "Let my children eat the gingerbread".

    This sounded so immoral. Just like wars.


  2. I think what went wrong for my generation was technology. Blogger, twitters, facebooks, at this very moment I feel incredibly lonely despite all the connectivity and knowledges I have.

    Life used to be quite simple, at least 15 years ago. Knock off from school, play with Lego, do some homework, give my classmate a call to check what I need to bring tomorrow, then have dinner and watch TV. Then sleep.

    This thing called internet.. subdued all senses and intellect.

    For dinner I have knowledge of the latest news, the latest dharmas, the prettiest photos of celebrity models and hunks, whereas home cooking and babysitting my cousins don't seem as fun as it used to be. I know lots of foreigners, but I no longer know the girl who lives across the block who is wearing pink and collecting her laundry into the house as it is about to rain. I don't know why but it feels like hell to me.


  3. Ricebowl -- You are aware, I hope, that anyone can start and maintain their own blog? There's no cost ... only the risk.