I'm normally someone who has no difficulty with words (just ask the rest of the family), however, I'm actually having difficulty finding the right way to get this blog post started. Go figure.
Mr. Sillypants here, writing from beautiful Addis Ababa. I arrived yesterday after an extended but uneventful flight from Chicago through Frankfurt, Germany. I am here with two other physicians to teach a course in high risk obstetrics; this is part of a program through University of Wisconsin which is working to establish Emergency Medicine here in Ethiopia. And, frankly, I'm honored to be here, part of this effort.
You would think that my mind is filled with anticipation of the two lectures I'm giving tomorrow or the "skill stations" I'll be proctering; certainly, these things are part of my thoughts right now. However, the majority of my consciousness is filled with the swirling of emotions inside of me after again experiencing the richness of this country, of these people, this history, this community.
When we came to Ethiopia to adopt our beautiful Blueberry, we had a week in country to learn a bit about the land of his birth, his heritage, his people. I think I was unprepared for the powerful feelings which arose within me as we had a chance to experience the unique qualities of this land. I knew I would be overwhelmed from the moment we met our beloved Blue; I had no idea I would be so moved by the people we met and the things we experienced.
Well, things have picked up right were they left off. We did a little sightseeing today, visiting the Trinity Church in Addis which is home to Haile Selassie's tomb; we also visited a museum and a marketplace. It was a nice overview of some of the "must see" attractions here in Addis Ababa. I experienced again the glorious history of this devout land, was able to experience some amazing Ethiopian food and smiled as two youths tried (unsuccessfully) to keep their donkey out of the middle of the road on a busy thoroughfare.
However, what is again so evident to me is the sense of community which exists here in Ethiopia. There is not so much "me" as there is a "we." Our host at the Trinity Church spoke quietly and reverently about the history of the building, of their faith, of their country. Youths care for their younger siblings, playing happily in all manner of games (we saw two teenagers playing "football" with another boy who couldn't have been more than 8 - - - they exhorted and praised their younger counterpart even though they could have easily embarrased him with their superior strength and skill.)
The sense of community here is overwhelming. The people here understand what is truly important.
I'm reminded of something which Leo Buscaglia quotes in his book, 'Love': "We have never been closer yet each of us are dying of loneliness." Isn't this the case? Email, cellphones, texting, cars, planes, Skype, instant messaging . . . it has never been so easy to stay in touch. Yet, our lives are often dominated by things which give no lasting benefit.
We have much to learn from the beautiful Ethiopian people - - - prime on the list is their understanding of what is truly lasting and vitally important.