Saturday, June 17, 2006

A New Beginning

I haven’t been able to think of a ‘good’ update for quite some time. In fact, I’ve resorted to posting a couple random entries without much thought just to reassure myself that I’m not slacking and am still providing posts for people back home. But I think it’s time to be honest with myself.... The problem isn’t “writer’s block.” I have tons of things to write about and do so easily so long as I know I won’t paste those thoughts on this journal.

But why won't I paste my thoughts on this journal? This is, after all, supposed to be about my personal reactions and reflections to everything I’m seeing here. So why the obsession with trying to craft a blog in which every entry is a carefully constructed self-important message instead of just honestly explaining what’s going on?

Tons of things happen that are more than worth writing about, and I’m constantly fighting intense feelings of guilt, pity, joy, hope, and frustration. But for some reason I don’t write or post about this because I’m afraid of the ‘message’ that I’ll send home about Ghana. But you know what? It’s not my duty to adequately sum up the essence of an entire country in a few short entries to everyone back home. It is, however, my duty to be honest with myself and, subsequently, with the people who read my thoughts.

The fact is that I feel guilty. I feel guilty about being a rich white kid in an area where 80-90% of the people live on less than a dollar a day. I feel guilty about living a life full of possibilities and opportunities that people here will never have (and that I take for granted). I feel guilty for always telling myself that this placement and its hardships are only temporary. I feel guilty about spending most of my time like a tourist who’s having a summer of a lifetime touring through people’s poverty and writing self-aggrandizing entries about it.

I’ve taken this weekend off and have run away to Wa until I can feel in control of myself again. I was given a nice pep-talk last night from a personal hero and new-found friend; she went on a very interesting adventure of her own last summer and at one point in her travels wrote a list of realisations that I feel are only too relevant to my situation a year later:

  • Your first job in life is to be grateful for what you have, experience, and are.
  • You are free.
  • Many, many people love you.
  • Yes, you are a rich white kid.
  • Lucky you. Enjoy it.
  • There are many, many impoverished people who feel that their only chance at achieving significance is acquiring as much wealth and opportunity as you have.
  • Yes, you are a tourist.
  • Lucky you. Enjoy it.
  • Folks back home like the writin', or seem to.
  • Poof! A Reason for Being.
  • Your best bet at achieving significance with your life is being yourself.
  • It is not your job to be special.

This is the point where I am determined to start writing about what I want, when I want. This is the point where I decide not worry about people judging how I spend my time and if my desires make me a bad person. I need to admit to myself that it’s ok to run away to an internet café or to lock myself up in my room with a book if I feel like it. I need to be happy and I need to want to do what it is that I’m doing because, frankly, doing anything grudgingly won’t serve anyone.

It’s time to accept the fact that I’m on the journey of a lifetime that I’m privileged enough to afford. It’s time to stop trying to write from the point of view of a faultless, thoughtful development worker and to start writing as *me*. I may not always be fascinating and I may not always make a clear point—hell, sometimes I might sound like a complete emotional idiot who doesn’t know where he’s at. But you know what? That’s ok; it just gives me something to look back and improve on. Start here and move forwards; I'll figure it all out eventually.


At 7:36 p.m., Blogger stine said...

Bryn, thanks for writing. You have quite eloquently articulated many of the feelings I had when I was in Zambia with Habitat for Humanity. Until now, many of the questions I had are still not resolved, and sometimes they can put me in a state of paralysis where I'm not sure what course of action is the most effective and respectful to humanity, where I question my own intentions and motivations and where I am constantly critical of my actions and what I say. That makes me hesitant of doing anything, but inaction is to me also unacceptable. I have no wise words for you, but your questions are important and your feelings equally valid, and I guess they're what some would say "part of growth."

take care!

- stine

At 11:05 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or not. Either way, you'll have company.

You don't need to save the world, just save yourself.

I love Leafy. And you.

<3 DT

At 12:01 a.m., Blogger Crash said...


This entry is the BEST of all. I am so proud of you! I love you so very much and I'm so envious of your present location.

Yes Please, Please Enjoy Every Second Of It, For All Of Us, But Mostly For You...

*Breath Deep*

At 1:51 a.m., Anonymous Marcie said...

Hey Bryn,

I just decided to check out your blog and read everything from beginning to end. I think you should be so proud of the decisions you have made for yourself in the past year. You are genuine and we all know it. Do not feel pressured to be poetic at all times.

I'm one of the people back home who just like the stories and the pictures of elephants.


At 11:53 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shared many of the same concerns as you when I lived in China and was constantly travelling to impovrished corners of it. However, you need to dispell the concept of guilt of being a very lucky white person. No amount meditation of contemplation can get us to really know what these people who live on one dollar a day really truly feel.

It is already amazing that you have decided to donate your time and comfort to try and help them. Very few people even think about helping, let alone actually do it. Sacrifice and concern for others are traits not shared amongst many; so even if the sacrifice of comfort is temporary, it is still worth doing.



At 11:04 a.m., Blogger andi said...

Bryn, that was beautiful and I'm sure took a lot of strength and thought in order for you to get it out. It was one of those rare moments of wisdom that seem never to come from someone close to me but from books written by dead people... it means so much more coming from you. You pulled at a heartstring.
lots of love and take care


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