While preparing breakfast this morning, I listened to Backpacking Through The Revolutions Of North Africa by Eric Westervelt (http://www.npr.org/2011/04/10/135246285/backpacking-through-the-revolutions-of-north-africa). As Westervelt brings us news from the Middle East he meets many people. One is Billy Six, a 24 year old German man. “He is currently walking and hitchhiking across Africa. He says he lives cheaply, takes the occasional odd job, but mostly relies on the kindness of strangers.
To some people, it might seem a bit crazy going into places where there's revolution and war. ‘Maybe I am crazy,’ he says, ‘but therefore I really know now what is going on. I also know these are not dangerous people. These are very, very nice, friendly people. They try to help me.’”
Returning to bed, I read parts or all of several essays in the NYT magazine. In Package to Nowhere, by Elizabeth D. Samet, I hear about Chris, a former student at of hers at West Point. They spent many hours talking face to face before his deployment to Afghanistan. The day she had a small box ready to mail to him in the trunk of her car, an officer called to tell her that Chris had been killed two days earlier. The synchronicity of these two facts was painful. “Chris was the very person who might have helped me sort it out. He had a sense of equilibrium and self-awareness seldom found in 23 year olds, and he hoped to attend graduate school in counseling one day. He was keenly interested in Jung, whom he was reading in Afghanistan, together with an eclectic library of writers . . .”
I also read Dominic Bracco’s story: Three Brothers Mourn a Slain Friend, Juarex, Mexico. One of the brothers, David Antonio Garcia Delgado mused, “I was feeling sentimental and thought, Why kill someone who’s done nothing? Sometimes I think, What am I doing here? Couldn’t I be someplace else? Someplace where there’s space to just be?”
Rising to bathe and dress for the day, bright bits of these three stories stayed with me.
I remember Billy Six’s affirmation of the people in the midst of politiical revolutions helping him.
I remember Elizabeth D. Samet’s description of Chris, the young man so ready to live.
I remember David Antonio Garcia Delgado's profound reflection on the violent chaos so close to his home.
Inside me, these memories are threaded together. What do they have in common? Death and violence, to be sure. But they are not just stories of danger, loss and trauma. They are most profoundly each a story of light, of truth, of love. Why did the authors want to tell their stories? Who knows. But I am encouraged that they did.