Rain in winter always feels like the first sign of spring. Pavement and adobe walls are wet and tiny buds on trees are happy to soak up cold water. I’ve been taking long walks instead of running over the past month. Listening to books on audio. It feels so comforting to watch the world slowly come back to life while I walk along listening to a woman’s voice in my ear share her story or someone else’s. My body has been forcing me to slow down, walk, instead of run, feel instead of think, meditate instead of act. Taking it all in and observing, I’m suddenly the tortoise and not the hare. Though there doesn’t appear to be any race I’m in, I’m getting there slowly. Wherever there is. Today I walked along and listened to Thirty Girls by Susan Minot. A novel of Africa, a story of Uganda and specifically thirty girls taken by a rebel army. A story we know and can never know. And Minot gives us both perspectives, the girls and an American journalist in Africa writing a story about them. What prevailed as I walked along listening; how can we ever know another person’s suffering? We know because we all experience it on some level, but what brings us together and separates us, are sometimes, the same thing.
Here is a moment with Jane, the American journalist reflecting on flying while watching a young man hang glide over the African savanna.
“In dreams when she was flying she could never make out exactly how it was working. She swooped over doorways, looped over trees but felt that at any moment the miracle might stop and down she’d plummet. She’d think in the dream, I better concentrate on staying up. But that wasn’t necessary, you just stayed up. You didn’t know what was keeping you up. It wasn’t in your control, it just happened. Like life.”