Something about Nostalgia and Nihilism

I don’t know how to start blogs anymore. That sentence will suffice as a start.

A few days ago I wrote a piece called “Gray” that sat in my computer for a few days, because I didn’t know what to do with it. I’ve essentially given up on my previous blogspot, because frankly it bores me a bit at this point and I want to find my voice again, or maybe a new voice In my writing. So I started writing in the way that I used to write poetry, I just get an opening line, that’s all I really need, and I just let it go from there; don‘t stop just keep writing.

Sad to say that I used to write poetry. The truth is that when I think back to how my life was previously in numerous ways, I can get myself lost in the romantic nostalgia and remember the good old days. Rose colored glasses, right?

I suppose I still can write poetry and at any moment I might do so, but inspiration seems to be fleeting. When I decided to try and come out of my writing cocoon this week, I figured that I could just write about anything. I was driving my car the other day and saw the ladies that carry bananas on their heads heading into the marketplace. Something that I originally thought was so cool and exotic has now become quite commonplace to me. After passing them, I thought up something that I figured would be really great to write about later, but its totally gone from my head at this point. Whatever it was, I’m sure it was great.

All that this writing push has amounted to is two unfinished pieces that are on my computer entitled “Something about inspiration” and “Something about writing.” This will probably also be left unfinished and if I do post it, that doesn‘t mean that I‘m erasing this sentence.

Why is it that we see the world we used to live in with such affection? I’ve been thinking back to my last year living in Costa Mesa, the year after I graduated from college. I remember walking around the westside of that city at night listening to Matthew Mayfield on my iPod, totally alone, totally lonely. I was sad. And yet, for whatever reason, my mind goes to this time when I was sitting in Airplane Park writing poetry under a streetlight, when the ghetto bird shined its light on me from the heavens as the police were looking for someone in the neighborhood and I think to myself, “those were the days.”

Why is that? I was single, I was broke, I was lonely, I didn’t know what to do with myself a lot of the time and yet for whatever reason, I look back and say “that was the life” as Costa Mesa PD approached me and told me that I should probably leave the park.

Maybe, I’m just coming to a further realization that no matter what, life is hard. Being nostalgic about the past and choosing to remember the good things or romanticizing the hard things is easy. We feel it gives us license to look at our current plight and remark how un-enjoyable it is at times.

I’ve been reading in Ecclesiastes which is a very interesting book. A professor of mine said that Ecclesiastes is the favorite Bible book for nihilists, because if you take out the stuff about God, it sounds a bit like Nietzsche. The refrain though that keeps it all in focus is for men to eat, drink and delight in the work God gives them, as Solomon writes “this is a gift from God” (5:19). It makes me think.

Life is hard. Without God, its meaningless and vain. I want to learn how to live now and be happy with the spot that God’s given me.

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Gray Sunday

I’m coming to the realization that life is complicated. I don’t know if its actually complicated, or if I’m just making it that way, but that’s what I’m feeling at the present moment. There is what appears to be gray and my mother always told me that I see things in black and white. That was a lot more simple I think. The gray makes my head hurt. I’m actually wearing gray today, two different shades. My wife said she liked the outfit, but I just threw it on quickly because I thought I was just going to run down to the orphanage to pick up Awadhi so that Melissa and I could have some time with him. We thought to go to a Tanzanian outdoor restaurant that has a nice playground and do some swimming at a local hotel also. We normally take him to church when he’s home so we figured we would do this instead.

I got to Treasures of Africa and went inside as I heard the voices of the four year olds in the bathroom washing up before lunch. I went inside and had a feeling that Awadhi wasn’t actually there. I talk to one of the caregivers on duty and converse with her in Swahili. “Is Awadhi here?” “He’s not here. He went to church.” “Oh, okay.” I went up to my office to act like I came here for another reason than to get Awadhi, but I just opened the door looked in and then shut it, went back downstairs and left.

I called Melissa to let her know that Awadhi had gone to church with Eli and the older children and that I was just coming home. I felt a little strange as I got home. “Well, I’m sure he’s having a nice time with his brothers and sisters.” Its good for him to be in church, I keep thinking that in any particular worship service, he’s going to be healed. What’s a pile of pilau and a little swim compared to hearing music for the first time or never having to take HIV meds again? We should be in church too this morning, but we were hoping to use that time to relax and spend it with Awadhi as he’s home for his one weekend a month from the deaf boarding school out in Kiboroloni. Not to mention, we were avoiding the service a little because Melissa had been ‘elected’ by the Tanzanian sisters of the church to help lead worship for the special women’s service but we knew she wouldn’t feel up to it because of her morning sickness.

I know its terrible to skip church. That’s why its probably better that Awadhi was there today. Its especially bad for me. I’m a missionary. And I’m actually an elder at my church. I, like Melissa for women’s day, was elected when I wasn’t there. I don’t really understand why that happens. I was there in a leadership meeting a couple months ago when a man stepped out of the meeting to do something and was gone for about a hour. When he returned, the senior pastor told him that he had been elected to head up men’s ministry while he was gone. I saw him begin to squirm in his seat clearly not too fond of the idea. He didn’t even really accept it, he just became it. I was sitting there as an ‘elder’ and I just observed it. Tanzanians do things different than us.

It’s a bit of a gray area too. I want to help so I say “okay, I’ll be an elder.” But then its more of just a title. I don’t go to elder board meetings. I’m not a part of overseeing the church budget. I just have to sit through marathon meetings every now and then and people call me an elder, or worse yet on occasion, they call me mchungaji… pastor.

I got home from the orphanage and Melissa and I decided to go swimming anyway. I love my wife more than anyone. I mean that in two ways, I love her more than anyone else does and I love her more than I love anybody else. It’ll still be a good day. At one point while we were swimming, Melissa said “I wish Awadhi was here.” “You’re not allowed to say that,” I responded softly but seriously. I find myself perpetually wishing Awadhi was here, but over the last two and a quarter years since I moved here, Awadhi has been around less and less than I’ve planned and now I’m heading out for Lord knows how long as we expect the baby to become a California citizen in September.

I can’t think about Awadhi, because I feel like I’ve missed something or I’m missing something. This doesn’t make sense to me. I read something I wrote back in August 2009 that talked about my upcoming move to Tanzania. It was the announcement to my friends and family. I told them that one of the most important things was that after a couple years I would be able to adopt Awadhi. I’ve lived here over two years now and that’s not even on the radar. Did I miss something?

In 2010, I heard about this Tanzanian law that says that one of the adoptive parents must be at least 21 years older than the child they’re adopting. I’m older than Melissa and only 18 years older than Awadhi’s legal, poorly documented age. Since then I’ve just resigned to say that if it was to be, God would have to do it or literally tell me to do it. Now, I’m not in a position to even consider it as we prepare to come to the states for a time that I can only describe as too long for comfort. Heaven forbid I get comfortable.

He’s only getting bigger too, entirely to my chagrin. When I first left him after my short term trip back in the summer of 2008, I told the Lord that I didn’t want to have to spend too much time in the states waiting to move here because I didn’t want him to get too big for me to hold him. As we were at TOA yesterday, unbeknownst to Melissa, she told me, “I think Awadhi’s getting too big for me to hold him.” “You’re not allowed to say that,” I responded softly but seriously.

Gray. What’s a guy to do?