Republished from Rivers of Consciousness, Last Modified: Friday, December 30, 2016: I always believe that nothing is impossible and life is a store of opportunities. However, I never thought this kind of opportunity would come this soon and this way; the opportunity to be doing what I am doing right now. I am writing, like what I have been doing all my life through. Exactly like what you all dear readers have been doing, I have been writing on the pages of the book of life every unit of time since my birth. We call these records experiences. And now, I am reflecting on them. This is something that is not done by most of us, even though it should have been addressed most for the invaluable experience sharing it gives. Thanks to the work of dear friends and colleagues for providing this reflection platform. I have the confidence and hope, that this will serve for communal purpose and inspire many to allow streams of values to the light.
The first time I considered writing on reflection of my experiences, I doubted if I have any experiences to reflect on that are of importance. I turned into my excellent reference, my book of life. Taken fully aback as I started turning on the pages one by one, I spontaneously started reflecting on them, some were amazing, unbelievably funny, joyous, and successful; others were intimidating, stupid, risky, failures … the adjectives would never end. Things narrated by my parents and older siblings about me in ages which I don’t remember anything of occupy the first, oldest and funniest pages, the pages of childhood ages. These are continued by vivid memories of the later ages of my childhood in my very small village inhabited by only about thirty households printed clearly on the pages that follow. There, among many other things, I find my childhood friends. Now some of them have assumed important ranks after successfully graduating, some others are dealing with life with other means like trading, laboring, farming; some are in the military, and so on. I don’t know if they remember our lives like I do. Still many loved ones have parted us to heavens, may they rest in peace, in different ways. Those ones own special place in the hearts of those of us who are living.
You see, life has its share of everything. The social values we learned, the much enjoyed traditional games we played while herding in the fields, the love, oneness and transparency we showed to each other should have been like they always were, if it were not that they are taken away by age, special separation and soon.
It was on one of these days when my illiterate parents enrolled me in a newly opened nearby elementary school after they waked up blessed. A journey set off, that eventually resulted in twenty years of hard study, strive, discovery, enlightenment, and change. No one including myself anticipated neither the length, the toughness of the journey nor the wealth of the gift the journey and the goal were to offer. The most interesting reading regarding my experiences that I want to reflect today is found on these pages. The prime character I have played so far has been in the field of education, as a learner. The biggest investment that has been made on me in terms of time, energy, money and all has been education. Consciously or unconsciously, the investment was huge, the purpose must have been serious, and the result expected to be very useful. So, for today I will ignore social, cultural, political, economic and other records on the pages and will stress on reflecting on experiences related to education.
Oh yeah, just weeks ago, I loudly voiced my agreement that education transforms a crude biological being to a socially, economically, politically, professionally etc. competent and all rounded being, my eyes of consciousness also underlined that education is the light of life.
The area where I grew up is a very mountainous, fertile area which was densely vegetated and had lots of varied wild life. Mode of life was mainly farming and we used to harvest adequate amounts, had herds of counts of pride and so we were happy with that. We were taught to inherit all social values, which I am proud of, by our parents and siblings. The other lesson which we learned was how to behave manly and win honors. It starts with simple things. If any one of your peers rides the donkey, then you must. If they swim in the deepest lakes known, if they can plough the field, you must do that. If not you lose honor and that is not a good name, your family will not be proud of you. That even gets tougher. You need to shepherd your herd into the most feared parts of the forests with lots of beasts and protect them from any attack. If you don’t have the guts to do this, even your own family does not respect you as a manly boy. Our fathers were the best teachers at these, they knew nothing else. They loved their lives and never cared to dream of any other forms of life. So, when that slim, pale, plain young boy (I) aged eight years went to school first, I never knew the aim, even my parents, they never saw as far as what has actually happened. They are not to blame though. They never had the needed knowledge of the world outside their own lives in many knowledge dimensions.
The widest extension about the external world I saw was in terms of space. My grandfather used to tell me that there is a very vast world that he realized when he among many other Eritreans, was forced to Tripoli in the Italian army to fight wars against British forces. I loved such stories and had the habit of asking questions. Because they saw that I would not forget what they tell me, they used to tell me the right thing. So when my grandfather mentioned that there were very great, great water bodies called seas on their way to Tripoli, I would ask, “So how did you make it to there?” He explained there were huge swimmer machines called ships that were made and ordered by white men only, “How do huge things with humans on them float on the surface of big waters without sinking when I know that woman easily sink in small lakes?” I had no answer for this question. My grandfather said he never knew how it happened and would never care to know. He added, “It is the work of God.” We could not reach the mysteries according to what he said. My dear grandfather, who was considered one of the wisest men in our local community died believing this way. My father who inherited the same ideology, however, is very fortunate. In his lifetime, he saw secrets of life that were completely unfathomable for ages being deciphered with ease by his own sons, thanks to education. Things that looked far from his capacity are now manipulated in front of his own eyes with the hands of the kids he brought up. The secret was education. Now we are competent. Not only that but it also has given our fathers the confidence that this generation has found the light that reveals secrets. Now they know that they were created fully equal to all men, they have gained the insights into completeness, but they lacked the transformation through education. Yet, this transformation is assuredly happening in their children. Now I can see this in me.
Quite a reflection of most successful people in academia who are from the countryside. Thank you so much for sharing the book of your life, doctor.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.
~ Doug Larson
Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.
~ Samuel Johnson