The return to life more ordinary


Things are gradually returning to normal.

Trying in describe the indescribable.

I hesitate because I have seen peoples eyes glaze over when I answer the 'how was your trip?' with an obvious struggle to convey what made it wondrous. The magic of jungle clad Angkorian temples at dawn, the eerie feel of soon-to-be drowned towns on the Yangtse river in China, the sound of the Mullahs calling the faithful to prayer as the sun sets in Cairo. These things are emotions as much as they are memories.

'How does it feel to be back in the US?' presents still more hazards. Everyone likes to hear about our pleasure at returning home to the world's wealthiest, freest and most blessed nation, our joy at seeing family and our jokes about regaining a trust of bathroom facilities and tap water. No-one wants to hear that we're also sad that our adventure is over and must settle into 'normal' lives.

What is less welcome still, what makes us uncomfortable, is trying to describe how the view from those places sometimes makes our society seem greedy, self absorbed and violent. In a post September 11 world, when America seems beset on all sides by people who misunderstand or wish misfortune, any criticism is seen as unpatriotic.

In answering these innocent queries I fail each time and on all accounts to answer coherently because so many memories and emotions clamor at once; because every issue has at least two sides and sometimes, when you seek to understand, you only find confusion; because the beauty and variety we've witnessed here and abroad defies attempts at easy description. It can only be held in the heart.

I used to berate myself for being inferior to the task of answering two simple questions,

"How was your trip?"
"How did it feel to come home?"

Now I just stop and ask myself another; How could anyone explain, in 50 words or less, the greatest moment of their life if it lasted more than a year, or over 52 weeks or precisely 369 days?

Nigel

09/30/02

 

   

 

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