There are things we have to take with us - keys, phone, wallet. Sure, those things go with me almost everywhere. But the stuff that I really take with me and that will never leave me are my memories of traveling.
Here I am, procrastinating getting work done and looking outside to the frigid air deep in a Canadian winter and I am longingly reliving some memories.
Today I have been struck by the memory of February 2011, in a tiny village on the outskirts of Konso where I had been invited to share in the bull jumping ceremony. This is a sacred ceremony that only happens every few years and symbolizes a young boy's entry into manhood. The festival included a lot of moonshine, face paint, Kalashnikovs and drumming. I was, with no surprise, one of the attractions of the day being about a foot taller than anyone in the vicinity and probably five thousand shades lighter. Plus, I had all these gadgets.
An elder from one of the nearby villages came over the talk - or gesture wildly and nod -and as a universal way of communicating, I let him look through my camera. He was enthralled, mystified, electrified and ecstatic over the fact that he could zoom onto someone's face far away and see detail. He turned the camera over, looked into the lens backwards and marveled in it's ability to do such non-human things. It was completely implausible to him that this thing, this inanimate, kinda heavy, strange looking thing could see better than us. There was a lot of screeching, hand clapping and ear to ear smiling.
His energy was captivating and I immediately matched his enthusiasm. I was also enthralled, captivated and mystified, not by my old camera but by the joy that is in all of us. Here, in the middle of absolute nowhere in the Lower Omo Valley of Ethiopia I found pure, unbridled and unkempt happiness.
It wasn't happiness because of a material object. It was happiness in the marvel of the world and the continual ability that we have to see a different world everyday.
I carry my memories, my lessons and the changes in me from my experiences. They never leave me and I hope they never will.