(The tiles are like wrapping paper)
Yesterday I went off exploring the town on my own with my camera. I took some pictures. I sat under a tree. I took some more pictures. I sat in a square. I walked on. I stopped to take another picture. If you had gone out at the same time with the same camera on the same streets you would have taken different pictures. Even if you took pictures of the same things you would have focussed on a different section. Or you would have zoomed in or zoomed out.
(More wrapping paper)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the different bubble of knowledge/experience/emphasis we each bring to whatever we do and wherever we go. My bubble is different to yours and each of our bubbles today are different to what they were yesterday. Going for a walk with my camera was the perfect change of scene to disrupt my thinking and disrupt my bubble.
I was thinking that when we communicate with another human being we are communicating across bubbles, that can distort the communication even when we are speaking the same language. But then sometimes we connect with a person and it’s almost like we pushed an internal button that aligned our bubble with their bubble and we’re talking the same bubble language.
(On top of a column)
Then at other times we are irritated by someone and it’s like we pushed a different button and now our bubble is fizzing and popping and no matter what they say it’s irritating. Recently I met someone who irritated me. My bubble fizzed and popped in a way that was distasteful… (I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you) I went on and on in my mind about how silly she was, how annoying, how childish. Then something about the word childish stopped everything.
(See the fields and mountains in the distance)
It was me who being childish. The fizzing and popping had stopped. She reminded me of me! The same mean voice that criticises me was criticising her. I knew which side of the hostilities I wanted to be on. I pushed the internal button, my bubble aligned with hers. At first nothing changed, then she seemed nice and then I wanted to connect. Turned out we didn’t have much in common and we’ll probably never be friends but she taught me to notice my bubble fizzing and popping.
(Remembering my girls)
Last night we went to see a beautiful movie – A Town of Runners. It was set in Ethiopia, in a small town called Bekoji. There was only a dirt road from the town so it has stayed small. The story is told by a boy who works in his grandmother’s small shop. The one thing that is not small about the town is the number of successful runners that have come from here. When the movie was completed in 2011, there had been eight olympic gold medal winners, ten world records and thirty-two world championships won by people from Bekoji. Not small at all.
(The path to our dreams is not always straight)
The movie is about two friends Hawii and Alemi. Hawii loved winning races and was happiest when she was first and Alemi was second…. She was fourteen when she said this and her honesty was touching, she loved when her friend did well, but there was only one winner and Hawii wanted to win.
Then there was the coach. The man who trained those successful athletics was called coach throughout the movie so I had to look up his name, Sentayehu Eshetu. He trains the children in this town and continues to train them until an athletics club from a big town picks them for their team. That’s the dream, to get chosen, just like the young Irish boys wanting to be picked for their favourite English football club. He smiles a lot, he is very respectful and the runners love him. He is on their side. He also has rules. At one point he has them pulling weeds and clearing grass from their running track – a red clay circle in a field with a shed for coach’s office. There is sadness in the movie also when the dream becomes difficult for Hawii.
(Water… we complain about rain but we need the water)
This movie shifted my outdated perceptions of Ethiopia. My memories of Live Aid in the eighties and the images of famine had drawn a detached, far away, not-my-world, picture that I held as true. Watching A Town of Runners I felt a connection to these girls, to their hard-working parents, their grandparents, to their coach. When they were clearing the weeds from the track I was remembering my weeds. When Hawii’s grandmother was worried about Hawii, I was remembering being worried about my children. When Alemi’s father was harvesting a vegetable crop, I recognised it as broad beans and was remembering my time in the wilderness. When a hen scratched in the red clay, I remembered my girls – the hens.
Movies can do that, shift your perceptions. Mairead.