Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finding Freedom: a recent reminder

Here's to resilience. Here's to the instinct to survive and the ability to overcome all sorts of crazy, unjust and inhumane circumstances. Three cheers for Victor Frankl, Anne Frank, Kunta Kinte, Saartjie Baartman, Ahmed Timol and MILLIONS of others who have suffered at the hands of misguided, deluded and straight up crazy men and women throughout the ages. Here's to people who have survived and overcome the machinations of power-hungry despots and greedy, imperialist racists.
Ingrid Betancourt in captivity in the Colombian jungle.
(Melanie Delloye; Sipa Press/ Rex Features) 

And, just because I am currently reading her book, here's to Ingrid Betancourt. She is a French-Colombian politician who was abducted by the infamous FARC terrorist guerrilla organisation while campaigning for the Colombian presidential elections in 2002. "Even Silence Has an End" is her account of her six years of brutal captivity from 2002 to 2008. Look at those dates! This is so real, so recent! While I was obsessing over first year weight gain, doing biochem pracs, all night study sessions, and generally dancing and laughing my way through varsity, this woman was living through hell in the Amazon jungle, and what's more, through her suffering she was growing and becoming a better person. Snap.

I visited a friend in Harare recently. She is gorgeous, funny, tough as nails with killer wit and charm to boot. Possessed of an insatiable lust for life she documents every encounter with every person through a photograph or a verbal quote. She encourages the multitudes of people who have gathered at the social hub that is her home to scribble a few words on her bathroom wall. Her white bathroom tiles are covered in blue and black ink quotes, some deeply thoughtful and others cute and funny. As I read Ingrid's book I was impressed by her incredible presence of mind and spiritual discoveries. I love the idea of someone ruminating over some of the most basic ideas and human actions and interrogating them until a single, simple epiphany crystallises. There is a certain joy that arises out of these moments in which the penny drops and one finally understands something as deeply and completely as if one has always known it. Once or twice I thought to myself, 'Here's a good line for Joie's bathroom wall.' Unfortunately, being endowed with a deficient short term memory, I forgot to record them on said wall. Never mind! I'll share my favourite with you now:

"For I was discovering that the most precious gift someone can give us is time, because what gives time its value is death."
- Ingrid Betancourt