I'd describe this blog as a place for the purposeful ramblings of Ruth and others. You get to read my thoughts. Will you please share yours, too?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Enclosed in Glass

Windows up, doors closed. Pump the air in, suck the life out. Pleasant, comfortable, cool, isolated. That's how we live, preserved in glass containers like science class specimens. Today's indoor forecast calls for a constantly regulated 74 degrees and as little human contact as possible. Home, to car, to work, to store, to home, to bed. Repeat.

The following is a portion of an e-mail I sent to my friend Tim, who is currently in South Africa right now. It expresses a few of my thoughts upon returning home from Africa, where people are everywhere and life takes place out in the open.
I know it's only been a couple days since I've been back, but I'm afraid I don't really fit here anymore; maybe I never really did. Things are different, a good different. I don't think I'll ever be able to find contentment striving for the things so many people here are working toward. It's just not for me.

I was watching Ed on tv the other day and I had to mute the commercials because the incessant and irritating noise of "watch this"/"buy this" was bothering me so much. No wonder people never feel like they have enough in this consumer society. Yuck. I don't want it.

I'm driving around The Woodlands and the streets are smooth, people (generally) follow the traffic laws, and things feel safe and sanitary, polished even. What's missing, though? People. They aren't walking along the side of the road. They aren't milling around a market or someone's home, kids aren't playing in the streets. Everyone's shut up in a building or a car. It feels so artificial. All you see are things, no people. Maybe one of the reasons I liked Africa so much is because I enjoy people so much and there, they were around all the time. Life was on display at every moment. Actual people living actual lives, even if the lives they led were messy or sad or poor. Their lives aren't hidden like ours are here. Maybe that's why they have the misconception that you can tell who has AIDS by looking at them, because so much of the rest of their lives are transparent and known by the people that surround them.

I don't want to idealize Africa and bash America, that's not my goal. I just feel more alive there, you know? Even if it's a conflicted, gut-wrenching, why does this disequilibration exist in the world? kind of alive, I would take that over the numbness that seems to infect us when we're too comfortable. So, I guess it's good that I'm feeling uncomfortable here in my cushy surroundings. The question is, what is my response?


Anonymous tz said...

i really like these thoughts, ruth. well put.

June 27, 2005 9:48 AM


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