In these months, the sun releases waves of heat as if someone had left the oven door open to the outside. The temperament of the wind is unstable at times and occasionally, storm clouds grumble high off in the distance, giving false optimism for a probable rainfall. As it does, a reoccurring moment finds itself paying visit to my consciousness at no particular time each day, where my acceptance of existence (here) falters. In my daze, after time had failed hours before, I follow a silhouette of the clouds slowly climbing up the side of the Spira Mountains. When I eventually look away, I find myself sipping a cup of milk tea, conversing with one or more of the locals, now my friends. To see the smiles on the faces of men who have adversities tucked away in places that I will never go, smiles neighbored by premature wrinkles and eyes dark and exhausted that no longer react with surprise - those smiles
cannot be measured on any scale of inspiration. Of the twenty-seven that I work with, none can identify life without war or conflict. (The Soviet-Afghan War, concurrent with the Iranian Revolution, started in 1978, and didn't entirely end until 1992. Shortly thereafter began the rise of the Taliban, whom was ultimately overruled by a majority who chose to enforce strict and unreasonable laws on the Afghanis - laws which greatly reduced freedoms, and if challenged, were often reciprocated by stern punishment). Almost daily, narratives about suicide bombings are broadcasted on the radio in Pashto (the native language), but there is a tone of indifference, an unspoken monotone of just another day
While our differences are profound (almost inconceivable) to say the least, finding definition to this remarkable chance, with the ability to learn about the Pashtun culture and their struggle - to find the words to describe what it feels like to hear them sing along to music on the radio, music that only a few years ago they were prohibited from listening to at all, is unattainable. It's in those moments that I realize I am a part of something uniquely mystic and powerful. Sometimes the work that we do together leaves us at the end of the day exhausted, sweating, and dirty. We'll sit shoulder-to-shoulder someplace, maybe on a bundle of plywood in the shade relaxing and laughing together, a sort of end-of-the-day comradery. I often catch myself staring in awe, dumbfounded, pondering about the after-work lives, when they go back to their villages, and back to their families. I visualize children with open-arms welcoming them home...and these fathers, I wonder how they love.
In this land richly-painted with mountains, deep history, and always filled with uncertainties, I wonder what sort of dreams a man has who is asked to protect his family from people who have a complete disregard for human life. I am saddened to see anyone live as such. In my sadness however, somehow I am considering myself lucky to be here.
Sometimes it's okay to swim in unfamiliar waters to find affecting things, and sometimes a person has to lose who they were, to find out who they are. Here, I am finding me, and if only fractionally so, and meager, to better the lives of these twenty-seven souls, bestowing reason (any reason) for a smile that might not otherwise have come,
this is where I want to be today.