Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Appearance aren't everything

I've been thinking about this for a little while and I now think that I have a few thoughts in order.

Last week we were in Nairobi as the TI interns headed back home.  I really don't care for Nairobi.  In fact, I'm not fond of most major cities.  But there were a few things that stood out to me in Nairobi.  It kind of hit at once as we were taking a taxi to the shuttle stage to catch a ride back to Kitale.  We left the Parkside Hotel (which I now refer to as "the Darkside Hotel") around 7AM.  What stood out to me was how so many shops had people outside cleaning the ground of debris, washing windows and inside mopping floors.  Even the Darkside does the same.  What I began to think is "why?".  Why do they make so much an effort to clean the outside of the place when the inside is filthy and disgusting.  The Darkside has a nice lobby with a big flatscreen TV.  They fold the towels and make the bed really nice.  But when you stay there, it's not the best.  Toilets don't flush.  Sinks don't always work and the service isn't always the best.  But at first glance it appears to be a nice place.  The shops are the same.  They have someone outside sweeping up trash and washing windows.  But when you walk in, they are not a friendly place.  Goods are cluttered and dusty.

What I thought of is how many Kenyans do the same with their own appearance.  They dress as nicely as possible and put on a front of being wealthy but on the inside they are not the same.  Then, the most interesting thought I had was how we in America are the exact same.  How often do we use Facebook to brag about how good our lives are when in truth we're really struggling.  How many have bought homes, cars or gadgets that push them further and further into debt just to keep up appearances.

I think that with all of our toys and gadgets it has become easy to put up a good front.  Even here in Africa it's easy to put on the front by posting amazing pictures of everything.  But I don't want to pretend either.  I love being here.  It's so much fun and I love what I am doing.  I love the kids I hang out with.  I love the community here.  But it's hard too.  It's sometimes difficult to see corruption and poverty daily.  Christmas is in 12 days.  This is the first Christmas in nearly a decade that I am able to relax and I'm not bogged down with travel and extra work.  At the same time, it doesn't even feel like Christmas.  It's a sad feeling to know that I won't be with my family on Christmas, not will I see any of them for a little while.  I'll enjoy every moment I have left here, but it's still strange.

I guess the question is why do we as a people feel the need to appear to be perfect and happy beings all the time?  Why are we so afraid to let people know that we don't always have everything in order?  Why has being anything less than perfect all the time become so shameful?  

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