Power and a Reflection

I had one of my long business trips this week to a part of our rural countryside in the North West of our country. I travel there quite often and have come to have a standing arrangement with a Bed and Breakfast who take me in as their daughter, who sees that I am fed and who gives me treats which are not put on the tab of my account. I appreciate this, as it’s tough being on the road.
And, admittedly, as someone who eats most of her meals alone, it’s nice to sometimes sit down and have a family meal.
When I joined these people on Wednesday I was pleasantly surprised to find another addition to the family. A 19 year old American had joined them to experience the art of working and doing hunting in South Africa. It’s a part of a summer school project which had him and other youngsters placed out on farms in the surrounding area where they are to work with the owners so that they could learn what conservation was all about. This American, whom I shall name Sonny to protect his privacy, came from the city of New Jersey and have, to my knowledge, not had a lot of farm experience so this was all very new to him.
Something else that was new to him was the lack of computers and internet in his life because the family that he lives with comes from the BC age.
Before Computers.
In a strange way, I immediately found a strange kinship with Sonny – even though I didn’t express this to him. He was a foreigner, cut off from everything that he took for granted back home, and he was in an area where they not only spoke English just as a means of self defense, but he had no access to his friends or family if they didn’t phone (and the telephones lines are down more often than not in that area).
I felt sorry for him because I sensed in him the isolation that I had lived in for a short time in England. I had realized there how dependent we had become on the internet to keep in touch, to link up our lives with others. And, I had used it to communicate with my family – something he thought that he’d be able to do as well.
So, that night – as I was looking at him across the dinner table, feeling sorry for him that the family kept talking in a language that he didn’t understand, I offered him my work computer and internet connection – telling him that he could use it for as long as the battery held. He looked at me suddenly in a whole new light, in a way that could only be expressed as gratitude.
The thing was that, even though it was a bit of an inconvenience for me (I really needed to work), I realized that universally – we have to be other people’s family if they do not have their own close by. It’s something that carried me in England, where I went out with a kamakazi like attitude and build myself a family that rivals no other. People whom I love and depend on.
I saw a reflection of myself in this young man and realized that the best kindness that I could do for him, was to help him find some touch of normality in this foreign, isolated bit of the world. Even if it meant playing around on Facebook, it would give him some stability, some touch to the life he left behind.
Just as I had found ways to keep in touch with mine when I was far from home.

2 thoughts on “Power and a Reflection

  1. Jenn June 10, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    That is a great post & a wonderful thing you did for someone who needed it.

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