Archive for December 2008

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2008

I could write something cliche about christmas, but that would be…um…cliche, and i am kind of not.  therefore i am posting pictures from playing with my new camera.

Christmas flowers

little buds

handmade ornament

i’m a newb and can’t figure out how to properly rotate these, but if you’re on a laptop, just turn your computer sideways!

merry christmas!

Why?

December 24, 2008

Remember when you were two or three, and every time something happened, or something new and different was explained to you, you always had the same response – “why?”  At some point, that innocent-child’s face that you made while quizzically asking “why?” disappeared, but, well…why?

Is it because we become slowly more used to the way the world works, and stop questioning why things happen the way they do, and just accept them as they are?  Well, maybe.  I know that I no longer truly question why girls and boys go to the bathroom in separate bathrooms, or why we drive on the right side of the road (damn righties), simply because that’s the way that things have been for the past 19 years of my life.  These adjustments, while in some cases necessary, seem to me one of the greatest problems with society today.  Sure, driving on the correct side of the road is an important assumption to have.  But what about when people begin to assume that homeless people are simply a part of city life, and don’t question why they are homeless to begin with?  What about when people assume that they are going to take some certain, regular life path without at least once glancing in another direction just for a moment?  This seems like the point where we lose so much in not asking why, why things are the way they are, because even though a lot in this world is good, there is plenty to be changed and improved.

Which makes me wonder – why have I made the decisions I have, chosen to live my life the way I have; why have I decided that trying to help people who are not as fortunate as I am is my “thing” to do?  The reason I gave admissions people for college was that it was how I had been brought up, and values that had been instilled in me through my parents and school system.  But I think the more true, and less tangible answer would be, it’s where my heart is.  Saving the world and gymnastics.  Unfortunately, the two do not combine well, but for some reason or another, those are the two things that have captivated me, made me give up a lot of other things to continue thinking about and doing them.  Why?  I couldn’t tell you.  I can’t tell you why I spend three hours a day, four days a week beating my body to a pulp, or why, unlike so many people out there, the fact that I am living better than 95% of the world truly and deeply bothers me.   Maybe why I don’t ask myself why I do certain things anymore isn’t a lack of a need for an explanation or an inadequate amount of questioning of myself, but simply because of something deeper than cold, hard facts and ideas that reaches an indescribable, powerful feeling.

Recap: Why this blog is called what it is

December 23, 2008

Since this is simply a relocation of my previous blog to a new location, I’ve copied and pasted below the meaning of this blog title, and its meaning to me.

Ashiya. It’s a Cameroonian word I learned from my high school calculus teacher who worked in the Peace Corps in Cameroon for three years. It doesn’t have a direct translation into English, nor any other language that I have found, and yet it expresses a sentiment that I feel so often that I wish we had a word for it. In English, we try and say “I’m sorry” when a Cameroonian would say “ashiya.” It’s the feeling that someone is struggling, having trouble, or is in pain, and yet you know there is nothing you can do for them. If you saw an old woman carrying a heavy load on her back back to her village, you could say “Ashiya Mama” as you walked by, acknowledging her struggles, and also that there is nothing you can do to alleviate her pain. This word keeps me grounded, while giving me hope. It seems contradictory, but it makes sense to me. While ashiya serves to remind me that, though I wish I could, I can’t help everyone in the world, I can’t fix every problem that I see even though I may want to, I can’t save every child from dying, give every person food, or give each child the same opportunity to succeed in this world. But at the same time, it reminds me of my teacher, of how she gave up three years of her life to help children have a bit better a life, a bit more of the pie, a tiny sliver of opportunity they wouldn’t have normally. It reminds me that people have the ability, as a whole, to change the world, one little village, one child at a time. It also inspires me to do the same, and I have no doubt in my mind that I will. The idea that I could be doing something to change the world and alleviate a little bit of the great amount of pain there is in this world, but then chose not to is something I could not live with. I have been given so much in this life, and while sometimes I feel like I’ve been given too much, and that I don’t want it all because I feel guilty for having so much when so many have so little, I also know that I can harness what I have been given and spread it across the globe to other communities. “Ashiya” lets me acknowledge this somewhat guilty feeling, and also makes me remember that, while sometimes I want to push some of what I’ve been given away because of the guilt, that in the end I can counteract it by spreading what I’ve been given around to better others’ lives. It is my daily inspiration to keep going, to push through struggles, because somewhere, someone’s struggles are a thousand times what I could ever imagine, and they push on, they still keep moving, and while I can’t help them now, that one word allows me to acknowledge their struggles and keep them in the back of my mind to help solve them later. Ashiya.