Submitted by Ben Ayers on Tue, 2009-07-28 12:00.
It’s been a while and a pile of frequent flyer miles since typhoid. I’m back Stateside for the summer and, finally, feel strong again. It’s been good to be here, to feel the grass beneath my toes, to take a few moments and try to put all of the contradictions aside and focus upon the sun sliding down behind the maple trees.
All of the immediate goodness of America, infinite like yellow lines on the interstate. I’m always amazed at how our culture can encompass so many things that are simultaneously so arbitrary, yet so essential.
I just spent an afternoon haunting the crowded gerbil-maze of the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. I had the good fortune of camping out among the good people at the Marmot booth for a few hours and watching the world go by in some tempest of bright colors and hi-tec fabrics. And, in moments like these, I get overwhelmed with the diversity of it all – of all of the places that I’ve been able to sit in the past six months, of the distance between the Marmot booth and Gudel, Nepal. And the distance between there and all of the other places I have never been.
On first glance, it seems so incongruous – the beautiful and fancy jackets versus the stinging nettle-fibered vest. The sales pitch versus the ox-drawn plough. And I, admittedly, sometimes get trapped with only seeing – or, even, over-romanticizing – the found in the dirt and among the poor. I often neglect to see that all of this commerce, all of the vehicles of capitalism and consumerism and beautiful indulgence and luxury are truly what drive my work in Nepal. That the luxury to give resources away to those less fortunate is one of the most decadent of human indulgences, and it’s one in which my life is completely saturated.
All of this contradiction, it seems to me, is essential for human life. It is this friction between experiences that generates the energy to propel us as a species forward. How everything is so knotted together that it becomes impossible for me to see the world as anything but one - unified in all that makes us different and all that we share. All at the same time, as it’s all the same thing.