The Arrows - We Have Love
We may not have, a decent home to call our own
and we may not, oh no, be remembered when we gone
Recently The Gordon Parks Foundation discovered over 70 unpublished photographs by Parks at the bottom of an old storage box wrapped in paper and marked as “Segregation Series.” These never before series of images not only give us a glimpse into the everyday life of African Americans during the 50′s but are also in full color, something that is uncommon for photographs from that era.
Yesterday I was driving through Blaine and I saw a bunch of mobile homes packed together in a lot. There was a sign that said “________________’s International Community.” It seemed real fucked to me that someone had the idea of taking all the immigrants and people of color and putting them up in mobile homes in a particular area of the city. It was on a stretch of highway not especially close to anything. My friend mentioned there is this problem in urban studies (I forgot the actual nomenclature) where housing is built for low-income people to live all together, but it’s isolated from any job they could ever get. They don’t have cars so they can’t get to their job, and in a place like Blaine, there’s no city bus or other public transport to get to where you need to go. So what the fuck. The “Lots for Colored” photo above reminded me of that.
I drove by that lot on my way up North.
At this point in my life, I’ve been to some stunning places in the world. However, no place has clouds quite like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. I did my best to get some pictures of them, but it’s a hard subject to capture.
My overnight last week
It has been a year today since I left to study abroad in Argentina and since I last cut my hair. I spent near four months there, returned in November to the Twin Cities, moved to Duluth for a semester in January and moved back to my parents’ home in May. The lease for a new apartment in Duluth starts in a month. This seemed to me a good time to reflect on the past year because of the marking point of studying abroad and now being back where I’m from. Here is what I have (re/)discovered:
1. People are people everywhere you go.
Personality doppelgängers are ubiquitous but maybe that’s because I look for familiar qualities in people I am meeting. Of course, no one shares the history you share with a close friend, but it is still comforting to know that wherever I go in the world, I will get along with people.
2. Everything is better when you share it.
This mostly applies to food. Cooking with friends and then eating what you created is one of the simplest most fulfilling activities I partake in. But most everything’s pleasure is intensified if it is shared. Some other examples: beer, weed, knowledge/wisdom, beds.
3. Most things are more than simply the sum of their parts.
Again, my main reason for this is with food. Some foods go better together than others and it’s not simply about what nutrients and chemicals compose the foods. It’s also certain combinations of nutrients, like fat in milk that helps us absorb vitamins vs. skim milk, or that caffeine blocks the intake of nonheme iron. But also, sentences aren’t just “noun-verb-object.” The words have to have meaning or else we come up with sentences like “colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” People aren’t just water and other chemicals because how can you quantify the memory of a profound experience or things like empathy?
4. Collective consciousness exists and everything is one.
See I Heart Huckabees.
5. Vegetables are better than meat.
I’m no vegetarian but I can eat a pound of greens and not wake up feeling like my stomach is boycotting digestion. As for a pound of chicken, steak or pork, not so much. Not that eating a pound of anything in one sitting is good for me at all.
6. I am never bored.
7. The more you escape the worse the return.
Sometimes, escape is great. But I have found that most of the time, trying to escape from reality just doesn’t work because one must return to reality. And that return sucks because it gives you insight into what your reality is, i.e. something to escape from. So then it’s time to make a change, which in many cases is very difficult, or continue on with your shitty reality.
8. Outside is usually better than inside.
Even if it’s hotter than the dickens outside, go get a fucking tan. Sweat some liquor out. Go play in the goddamn rain. Take a toboggan to the grocery story. But if there is a devastating natural disaster happening in your area, be safe.
9. It’s all about perspective.
Empathy is tough. Everyone, including myself, seems to always be talking about The Other in a way that is disdainful. I feel that it is because they/we see qualities in The Other that we know we possess and that lashing out is a sign that we don’t like that particular quality about ourselves. Because tearing someone else apart is much easier than self-dissection, it takes a lot to realize that really we must change ourselves because we cannot change others. So to truly put yourself in another’s shoes not only gives us insight to The Other, but to ourselves as well.
10. Wherever I live, it will need to be next to water.
My whole life, I’ve lived next to the Mississippi River, the largest river in North America. When I moved to Duluth, I began to live next to the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior. When I lived in Buenos Aires, I was right next to the Río de la Plata, which at its mouth looks like the ocean. I could never imagine living in Salt Lake City or some waterless place like that.
11. The journey is the destination.
I may say this jokingly quite a bit but that doesn’t take away from its value.
This is cool. I hope to be able to articulate what I’ve learned in the next couple months.
As for number 7, I definitely escaped pretty far. That was the difficultly of last week. It wasn’t reverse culture shock. It was coming back to deal with what I left in March.
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.