Dominique NdahimanaPerpetrator (left)Cansilde MunganyinkaSurvivor
NDAHIMANA: “The day I thought of asking pardon, I felt unburdened and relieved. I had lost my humanity because of the crime I committed, but now I am like any human being.”
MUNGANYINKA: “After I was chased from my village and Dominique and others looted it, I became homeless and insane. Later, when he asked my pardon, I said: ‘I have nothing to feed my children. Are you going to help raise my children? Are you going to build a house for them?’ The next week, Dominique came with some survivors and former prisoners who perpetrated genocide. There were more than 50 of them, and they built my family a house. Ever since then, I have started to feel better. I was like a dry stick; now I feel peaceful in my heart, and I share this peace with my neighbors.”
The NYT has an incredible series of reconciliation and unity in Rwanda; the grace and forgiveness that the survivors show is absolutely stunning.
When I began this disposable camera a month project, I did it because I wanted to remind myself that you could still capture a moment without the expectation of a perfect pose or an Instagram filter.
It’s difficult in a way that I’m having a hard time verbalizing.
But nonetheless, it’s a weird understanding to try and unlearn: the fact that life is supposed this beautiful montage of perfect squares and vibrant colors.
Here are some of my favorite photos from March. They’re not amazing (technically), and to be honest, it felt weird to not receive 27 perfectly polished exposures when I picked them up from the CVS 1-hour photo in midtown.
Despite all of that, but I can’t help but smile when I hold each cherished exposure in my hand.
There’s an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing. When I began, I thought that the way one should work was to do all the research and then write the book. In time I began to understand that it’s when you start writing that you really find out what you don’t know and need to know.
Those who know me, who are near and dear to me, will tell you that I love them deeply. And they know this because I can’t help but tell them.
Sometimes I tell them via emjoi.
Sometimes in a tight squeeze.
Sometimes I say it with a random gesture or a hand written note.
Sometimes I just say it outright.
In my world, friendships and relationships aren’t taken lightly, and chances are, if you’re someone who I love being around, I’ve probably told you how important and special you are to me.
I’d venture to guess that 90% of this has to do with my upbringing in a military family and the fact that I moved almost every three years of my life. Of course I had friends, but there was something in the back of my mind and in the middle of my heart that always kept a little distance. Only in my adult life have I really felt any sort of ownership in my friendships; a sense that they were not going to be interrupted by a move (or at least one that was in my control); perhaps now I’m making up for lost time.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I was really good at loving others, but I wasn’t very good at receiving it.
It was ok for me to show people love and give so much of myself, but when I was on the receiving end of it, I brushed it off and dismissed it.
My requests to the people I love the most in my life are usually prefaced with, "It’s fine either way", "You don’t have an obligation to me", or "No pressure." Subconsciously, I was telling myself that letting someone love you meant opening yourself up to the possibility that they’re free to take that love away and that one should proceed with extreme caution. You can’t miss what you don’t have.
I didn’t really realize that this was a pattern that I’d developed until I celebrated my birthday at the end of March. Somehow I ended up with three separate birthday events over the span of a few day and felt sort of anxious about being that annoying person who takes up everyone’s time celebrating themselves.
When I had my final celebration, an intimate dinner party with some of my closest friends, I was inexplicably happy with a smile plastered on my face for five hours straight.
Oh, this is what it feels like to let the people you care about love you.
It wasn’t until I finally let myself accept this love that I came to understand how much of it I was pushing away, despite my propensity to be a grand distributor of love itself.
The past few days I’ve been thinking about this a lot, really coming up with more questions than clarity, but a realization stood out among the questions:
When it comes down to it, loving someone means loving them how they need to be loved, but also, letting them love you how you need to be loved in return.
In my continuing quest to explore vulnerability this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better insight or gift to start 28.
To my friends who loved me so unconditionally, thank you.
inhaling with the xx
On Tuesday night, I had the chance to see the xx at the Armory, a truly special, once in a lifetime experience. Having not got much sleep or rest or really slowed down the days before, I debated texting my friend Nate and bailing.
After work, I zipped to Brooklyn for a meeting, zipped back to Union Square to meet Nathan and then we zipped uptown to the Park Avenue Armory.
I was beat.
We entered the venue and sat in a holding room until it was showtime. As we sat there with 42 other guests, I was thinking about how I’d had such a long day, how I’d be out late, and how I’d have a late night the next night.
My mind was preoccupied with all of these thoughts about what had happened during the week, what WAS going to happen during the week, but it wasn’t really thinking about what was happening in that exact movement.
When we were ushered out of the holding room, through secret tunnels, and eventually into the performance area, my mind frame shifted. I was standing in a giant square with 43 other people, surrounding the xx.
"Close your eyes, inhale. Deeply." I told myself.
And so I did. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and stopped any thought that was not about the experience happening right in front of me.
This week, I’m going to remember to inhale and take it all in, one moment at a time, even in the midst of busyness.
A year ago today we went to a grilled cheese festival and then bar hopped around Nolita with Grazina and Evan.
Later that night, happy and full of margaritas, cheese, and love, I tweeted:
“This time next year I’m going to look at my Timehop and remember that today was a great day.”
And that’s exactly what I did this morning.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia.
I’m reading “Falling into Grace” by Adyashanti, which I think I’ve mentioned a few times, and I find myself more and more challenged with each page I read.
This week in particular I’v read about control and how it impacts our perception of ourselves and our perception of others.
“When we’re in our egos, we’ll naturally try to control each other, as well as ourselves. We’re trying to control life. But I’m sure you’ve noticed that you can’t control life. The sun comes up when it wants, and it sets when it wants, not when you or I want it to set. The rain comes whether you want it to or not, and the moon rises whether you want it to or not, just like it sets. And the same is true with each moment, and with everyone we meet.
On the surface, the illusion of control makes us feel safe and able to create a life for ourselves of comfort and security, manipulating our lives based on what we think we need. Yet, in actuality, we have no such control. Still, the illusion of it is amazing in its design and its complexity, because after all, almost every human being falls for it. Almost every human being thinks, “I’m in control of my life,” except when times get really difficult”
There’s so, so much to unpack in those two paragraphs about why we desire control and what motivates us to so, but instead of getting into it and picking it apart, this week I’m going to start with this:
When I feel the urge to control something, I’m going to step back, release that feeling, and let the uncertainty of the wind bring me to where I need to be.