It’s true, I am back in Colorado. And to be honest, I’m not really sure what to say. What was Rwanda to me? Peace, reflection, struggle, confusion, beauty, frustration, connection, learning.
My questions are still unanswered, and my research far from complete. “But I am okay with that now.” Everything about my experience taught me so much about patience and acceptance. We cannot control the majority of what happens in our lives. In a world and culture that operates on a schedule with systems intended to make life easy, it seems like we have control. But we don’t. And honestly, it is a lot more fun to just take life as it happens anyway. Which is why I can say that I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do and that it doesn’t matter; I know I will accomplish it one day.
In the meantime, I learned so much about the emotional complexity of the human spirit. I have never been so confused and heartbroken, but so at peace. I ran into a wall of frustrating cultural norms, but in the end I totally understand the norms and cannot blame the way things operate.
As a journalist, nothing is more frustrating than a person who tells me what they think I want to hear. My project relied entirely on hearing and understanding the heart of a person: his hopes, fears, and reasons for restoring a failed relationship. And if that relationship is not restored, I need to know that too. But most of what I heard was rehearsed stories of “I forgave him and now we visit each other for drinks or seeing each other’s families.” Seriously. I have 19 stories that say these exact words. This is frustrating. But I cannot change it. I cannot teach a man of 54 years old to express himself honestly, when he has spent the last 20 years restraining his emotions and responding to the demands of the authority.
Instead, I learned to see him as the man he is. With a past that explains his current actions. He is not less of a man. He is not wrong, or right. He is human, like me. So sadly, dear reader, this has made it difficult for me to find exciting ways of talking about the people I met. I don’t want to make them out to be extravagantly different people living exotic lives. Its just life to them. Eating, sleeping, loving and hating their families, and working hard to do these things. Just because their lives appear to be different from yours does not make it necessary to put them on a pedestal.
So for now, I am processing what I have seen and felt. And I hope, one day, that I will be able to eloquently write about it all.