Enjoy Right Now, Today
But a few nights ago,
I found myself in the kitchen between Mamma Violet and Mamma Katendi, cutting sweet potatoes with utmost precision. A flow state accompanies me as I balanced the task at hand and the small talk amongst the three of us. The light dialogue prompts Mamma Katendi to ask, “How are you going to describe Zambezi to your parents?” – the flow state is crushed in an instance.
Within moments, I find myself warping through the inner dimensions of my mind, playing back every feeling and experiencing that has washed over me in these three weeks. There is no answer. The flow of the conversation has come to an abrupt stop, Mamma Katendi and Violent stop to see if I am okay. I snapped back into it and spit out something along the lines of, “the people here are very hospitable, there’s good and bad, the sunsets are nice”. The conversation and cutting is able to continue on, dinner must be served.
Flashback to 6:30am that morning. I am with a friend that has been a close companion that I met through my homestay experience; we plan to go fishing (let’s call him Gunter). Gunter’s gleaming presence often reminds me of that first true night in Zambezi; Isaac and I freestyling over a beat produced by our homestay – it would be safe to place us in the category of ‘aspiring’ rappers. Later that same night, after much banter and camaraderie, it’s time for Gunter to head home. Shortly after, my homestay alludes to Isaac and I about Gunter’s struggling with heavy drinking, that sounds like it has gone on for some time now.
My western lens intensifies! My homestay’s compassion toward Gunter that night was not match for the ideas I was conjuring on how to avoid seeing Gunter at all costs. He had a problem. That problem encouraged me to place him in a box, a box of single stories, of assumptions, a box lacking curiosity, a box lacking grace. A take a moment to breath, what has preparation for this class taught me? I take a second-deep breath, and I am taken back to the Center of Spiritual Living (CPL) in Santa Rosa. A place my dad dragged me to here and then following my senior year. I am reminded that the quickest way to never know anyone, is to live a life guided by assumptions. I muster the courage up within me, this courage enables me to strip back a layer of my lens – “let’s meet up again Gunter” something along those lines.
Three weeks later, and Gunter is my closest friend in Zambezi. From freestyling endlessly, to introducing me to his family and home, to letting me name two of his dogs, which I named RobbyP and Pesto (RobbyP was stolen:( ),to teaching me about tribalism conflicts in Zambezi, to the perpetual struggle of alcoholism in his family, the limited job markets his up against, and his struggle with boredom and idleness. Wow. A word that Gunter says regularly is fitted in what came out in our time together over the three weeks. Thanks dad for dragging me to CPL, and thanks to Josh and Father Baraza for encouraging me to be compassionate of those that lie in the margins of society. Not to pity him, but to exists with him in those moments, to listen, to ask questions, to enjoy one another, to reciprocate appreciation of one another.
P.S Tonight was the Accompaniment Dinner – Isaac, Chloe, and I are the MCs. Isaac does a backflip, it’s lovely. The choreographed dance does not go as planned. Leila and I are wearing matching chetengi, we take some awkward prom photos.
Zags and Zambians are in the kitchen and in the front yard cooking dinner that will feed over 50 people. I found myself in dialogue discussing social anxiety with a Zambian friend. I cannot stop dancing. Zambians and Zags give short speeches regarding the impact of one another. I began to tear up. I hold back these tears. Maybe one day I won’t.
Friendship real and deep reverberates in the atmosphere of the echoing convent. Deep appreciation for others is something hard to describe, but I felt in that moment. I drink a coke with my guest, Given. My heart and head attempt to balance the complexities of the challenges Zambian face that I have seen with the current joy I am experiencing; it feels as though I am in Debby’s Aerobics class partaking in a rambunctious maneuver. I remind myself that we are not called to be idle or even hostile to other cultures because of our western lens. I particularly struggle with gender roles in Zambia, which at face value is hard accept. It becomes a clash of human autonomy versus maintaining respect for one’s culture.
Most of all, as I sit surrounded by people I love and am inspired by, I am in the flesh (say in Baraza voice), I am here. I wish to embody the third type of person that Father Baraza describes, those that act. I am brought back to a quote my friend used for his senior project, “small acts, when multiplied can transform the world” -Alex Urasaki’s CBSL 2017. Tonight, felt like the perfect manifestation of that. We are not here to change Zambezi, we are here to exists in accompaniment with Zambians. This is easy to forget, and sometimes the efforts to engage in simply play with Zambian youth or conversational Luvale with Zambians feels futile. But this trip is bigger than these three weeks. We are but a chapter in book, a book that has Zags and Zambians enthralled with every page. This chapter of Gonzaga in Zambezi, chapter 2019, has brought joy, discomfort, love, anger, feelings of futility, eye-opening experiences, and companionship to all those that have partaken in its creation.
This trip calls us student to reevaluate control. Often, we become paralyzed by the things we cannot control. Control is one of the deepest desires of humankind. This is why boxes exists, they enable us to have control over our perception of the world. To see things at face value, and make quick analysis of whether a thing is “good” or “bad”. Instead, one should listen with true openness.
True openness, while it may sound cliché, holds upmost value, especially in unfamiliar settings. While I do not recommend jumping into experiences willing to accept all new ideas, similar to how one should not check the temperature of the pool with both feet, one should be conscious of the lens we have. Peel back that lens, ‘feel free’. And anyways, in the androcentric words of Aristotle, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”.
One last thing, embrace those that you love and build one another up. I’ll prompt the question, is time more valuable than those that surround us? Instead let’s Linger in those moments that are there, waiting for us now!
Leila’s words sung early tonight at the Accompaniment Dinner (which pulled heart strings and trigger tear ducts alike) does a great job summarizing the feelings amongst us as we prepare to leave behind this place we’ve been began to call home.
“I want to linger (mmm) a little longer (mmm) a little longer here with you (mmmmmm) it’s such a perfect night (mmm) it doesn’t seem quite right (mmm) that this should be my last with you (mmmmmm) then comes September (mmm)I will remember (mmm) our Zambian days and friendships true (mmmmmm) and as the years go by (mmm) I’ll think of you and sigh (mmm) this is goodnight and not goodbye”(mmmmmmm).
Let’s make time for each other. The African philosophy of Ubunu reminds us that we only exist because of each other. Let’s find ways to enjoy right now, today. To be present, to be in that discomfort, to ask questions, to be confused, and while we’re at it, love your parents too.
With that in mind…Happy Father’s Day! It’s nearing 12am so not everyone got a chance to show some love, but hope all the fathers have a special day regardless.
Ellie: Daddio! Thank you for all your unconditional love and constant encouragement and support! I love you to the moon and back and can’t wait to see you soon!
Caityln: Yo Daddio! I can’t thank you enough for teaching me how to work hard and to be resilient. Without your love and guidance, I would not be the strong person I am today. I love you! Also, happy belated birthday mommy! I love and miss you with all my heart!
Megan: Dad! Happy Father’s Day! You know if I was there I would be giving you a great gift and planning a fantastic day for you! Love you so much and can’t wait to see you!
Sammi: Happy Father’s Day Papi! Thank you so much for always being a great role model for me. Looking forward to talking to you and the family in just a few short days, love and miss you!
Leila: Hey there dad! Happiest of Father’s Day’s to you. You always told me that luck was where opportunity met preparation, and I will always say that that leaves out the category of blessings. You are of the greatest of blessings. I love you oh so much and I can’t wait to huge you in SeaTac on Tuesday!
Maurie! Hey Dad! You’re pretty cool I guess. Happy Father’s Day! See you soon.’
Chloe: Hello father, I’m so incredibly proud to be loved by you, known by you and constantly learning from you. Thank you for making me the woman that I am. *Chelsea*
Isaac: Dad! I cannot believe I didn’t realize I’d be gone for Father’s Day :/. Your card and gift are on their way (with me)… but until then, thank you for being the best father in the world; I appreciate and love you so much. Can’t wait to see you soon <3
Annika: Dad!! Happy Father’s Day!!! I can’t wait to see you when I get home in 2 days!! Thanks for always supporting me in everything and being the absolute best! I love you so much!! (P.S please tell FarFar Happy Father’s Day too)
Emma: Hey dadJ thanks for being my biggest supporter in everything I do and wanting me to achieve. I am looking forward to many motocycle trips to Alice’s in the near future. Can’t wait to see you in a couple of days! Love you with all of my heart.
Rachel Has: Papa Dave!!!! I love you with my whole heart and have missed you everyday of this trip. I have so many photos and memories to share with you. <3<3 Some of my favorite memories have been spent with you: skiing, biking, and watching a Blazer’s game or two. J See you soon!! #BestDadEverEverEver
Spencer: Hey Daddio! Happy Father’s Day to you ya dingus! Thanks for always putting up with the shitty movies I choose to watch, can’t wait to watch some more over bbq when I see you on Tuesday! Love you lots!
Bryce: Jefe! Happy Dad’s Day. Thank you so much for the cards and comments, I appreciate your thoughtful, meaningful love, and your support. I look forward to being with you soon – thank you for your prayers
Alea: Hey Dad!! I love you lots and lots. Cant wait to see you in the airportJ Thanks for being the best!
Mwane Vule Mwane, Preston