No matter where you go, beauty follows
April 10, 2008
For many us, home is where the heart is and nothing compares. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge proponent of that, and though clichAfA, the saying still stands true for most.
Our individual concepts of beauty, often times, are influenced by what we knew first; by the things we learned early on were good. After all, familiarity breeds contentment, and whether raised in the Pacific Northwest or the deserts of the Middle East, we grow to embrace our surroundings.
Sometimes it's the simple beauties that catch us off guard. Just when the world seems it's falling apart around us, a savior of thought steps in, and we realize that those simple beauties are all around us, if we're willing to search for them.
Upon my arrival to Iraq, I was a bit displeased. I didn't expect much to begin with, but nonetheless, I was unimpressed. It's a far cry from the thick woods and mystic mountains of the Northwest that I'm used to. Much to my surprise, however, it didn't take long to find my own simple beauty.
Leaving the broadcast studio at Al Faw Palace late one afternoon, I caught the sun setting over the lake at what must have been the perfect time of day. The sight was so amazing that all worries and concerns I'd had about the next year of my life seemed to float painlessly away.
The realization that beauty remains around us despite war just seemed to comfort me. Although mortar and rocket attacks have shown to be relatively frequent here, life goes on in its breathtaking and sometimes funny little ways.
Even the simplest of things can reassure us that life is beautiful. As a child, I always enjoyed feeding the ducks and geese at the lakes and ponds near home. It seems nothing has changed. My fellow journalists recently re-introduced me to the act. I guess I had forgotten how much fun I could have just watching birds gobble down food like crazy men.
In the strangest of places, I was reminded of home. I instantly remembered when my grandfather and I would throw bread to the birds while up in the mountains of Oregon, or on walks, generally in the lush spring and summer months, just bonding in the sun as grandfather and grandson; the new and the old sharing a moment.
I always enjoyed the time I spent with my grandparents, and the moment really took me back. It was then that I realized those memories really do go with you no matter where you go. They're kind of like AAFES. And even here in Iraq, similarities to home can be found.
Though my example is far from the best, it gives me the hope to always look for those things that can counter my worry and concern; my fear and my sadness. It's so reassuring that the smallest things in life can lift our spirits.
It's just like the other day when I passed by a street near the palace and happened to see two geese bolting down it, side by side. I mean, they were seriously tearing up pavement.
I'd like to think that at the other end they agreed to race for some sort of prize, or some food some journalist had thrown them earlier. Maybe it was a bet between the two geese, just like humans often do. For some reason, though, it was absolutely hysterical to me. Perhaps it's because geese don't have arms, so it's funny seeing them waddle so speedily from side to side. Either way, it put an ear-to-ear smile across my face. Laughter is a wonderful medicine.
Being far from home, away from familiarity and loved ones, isn't easy for anyone. Feelings of loneliness and depression generally ensue, but no matter where you are, even if in the midst of war, beauty can be found. You have only to search for it.
So if you see increasing amounts of food floating in the waters around the palace, just know that's all the food the birds wouldn't eat. Still, I'll now make it my personal duty to see that the geese of Camp Victory are properly nourished, even if that means wasting a few green apple and carrot cake energy bars. And so I say, "to each his own therapy."