Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Simple Things

I have a theory. 
I'm thinking if I ever own a home in America again, (which I probably never will) I'm going to find a way to make it more like Haiti. I might automatically throw the breaker at random times during the week. Some nights we'll have power, some nights we won't. Here, when the power DOES come, everyone shouts with jubilee, you can hear the kids scream, "Kurant (Power!), and someone else gives praise to God with a "Mesi Jezi!" Then, if you're really lucky, it might become Movie night and someone might start popping popcorn. A fan is inevitably turned on and a cool breeze begins to the flow through the house.

Life is so much more exciting, all because we never know when the power will come and go, and therefore it's not taken for granted. Think of all of the different avenues of life where we could apply this theory!! In every scenario imaginable, it would seem to give new freshness to an otherwise stale and forgotten amenity. It's not so much of a theory here in Haiti as it is a reality.

Some days there is no gasoline at the gas station here. We all get worried. Lines form. We start judging every turn of the ignition - is it purposed, is this worth-while? Do we really need potatoes? Then the gas truck shows up, everyone is smiling and happy, you even give the car an extra vroom-vroom for the kids as you're dodging the man-eating pot hole in the road. Everyone shouts with glee as if you're on some new-found rollercoaster ride.

The same has happened with water here. One day, it just quit coming. No rain equals no pressure, and the little spring that keeps our village hopping just couldn't anymore. We began hauling water by 5 gallon buckets for a month. We were so happy the day that pressure was restored because of the rains, and the water just arrived again. Right now I hear the tank beginning to overflow outside my window. It makes me smile. Makes me want to take a shower. Makes me want to cuddle up with a book and read while that sound woo's me to sleep.

We've never had hot water here either, unless it's so hot outside that the water in that tank warms just a little. There are days when it's been raining and you're cold to your bones, even though it's Haiti, and you just want to be warm. We start the water boiling, and we add it to a 5-gallon bucket of the regular cold water. The girls start getting all giddy, thinking about conditioner and a good scrubbing. The boys, who detest showers, let alone showers where they actually use soap, might even sing a tune out loud while they chisel away at the layers of dirt. Everyone is all smiles. Something as simple as a shower becomes a beautiful highlight of the week.

Have I made my point, proved my theory, laid out my hypothesis, well enough for you to believe me?

I dare you to try out my theory, and after a few months, tell me that you're not overjoyed by the simplest of the sweet things in life. Take stock, make inventory of the things that have become mundane, in whatever vein of life. Then, if you're honest, look at the long list of gifts you've taken for granted for the better part of your life, and start to play.   Stir the pot.  Live again in the simple things!

There is still no guarantee that LIFE in and of itself will be blissful. Sorry, well, not really.  That's life.

There will still be ups and downs, knock-down, drag-out fights mixed with uncontrollable laughter and happiness.  Stress, mixed with serenity.   Fun, mixed with work.  Good and evil.  Black and white. Picture Darth Vader, "Luke, I am your Father!" (Yep, I went there) Sin and forgiveness.  Pride and Humility.  One day you will be wise. One day foolish.  I can hear some frilly clich√© coming from a fairy as she sprinkles pixie dust, "without the valleys we could never appreciate the mountaintops", meanwhile we all go running for the fly-swatter. Better yet, shake up a can of Raid.....but wait.  It's true, isn't it?  That's why we love it deep down inside.  That's why every movie has the same plot.  Every book the same ending.  It's David and Goliath, then David the Drooling, David the Warrior, then David the Adulterer.  David the Murderer, and alas, (drumroll with the ring-side announcer voice) David the Redeemed!  It's life, up close and personal and yet such a strange bedfellow. 

Just like those pesky 5mph speed bumps that are so ever-present on the ONE blacktop road we do have in Haiti, much as you hate them, they still make you downshift, put on the brake, engage the clutch, slow down, i.e., see more.  And when you see more, you appreciate more.  I promise you, if those speed bumps weren't there, I'd have driven right over the edge, a long, long time ago. 

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