In high school English class that is what Ms. Satter would say. We were anxiously waiting to pounce out the door waiting for freedom, but “We still have three minutes! You can change the world in three minutes!” and I dreamt of how that could be. One strangers smile beaming at me, a handshake, a tender word, a gun shot, a compliment, a kiss – all under three minutes, change the world.
And so I think of how my moods change in minutes. One minute I’m on a high thinking how cool am I living in Sudan! I work in Sudan! Then the thoughts change to, what am I doing here? Why am I not out on Saturday night with my friends? Why do I not have a date? Where is some real mozzarella? What is the point of my life? And it is one swing of the pendulum to the next.
I fly on UN Humanitarian flights to remote and desolate places. I have witnessed gun shots and insecurity. From one minute to the next it is dynamic. There are days of long stretches of unbearable sun, heat and dust. I want to give up. I don’t want to be here. I don’t know where I belong. I want to escape.
And then there is Achel’s laughter. I smile. I join in. My world has just changed. I become gracious again. I think of my friends here, of the games at night under the stars, of traditional village dancing, weddings and all the cows with impressive horns.
In living in a tent with a lot of solitude, I am allowed to process emotions, thoughts, my past, my presence – and all my neurosis at once. It is at times unbearable. In the twilight when the same landscape becomes changed – more beautiful, it is a few minutes that life again shifts towards grace.
And sometimes that’s all I get for my efforts and struggle and grandiose idea that I’m making a difference. I see a smile, joy or comprehension on the women’s’ faces that we have trained in business skills and provided grants to. They sell their vegetables or prepare speeches for International Women’s Day. And I witness pride. I see hope. I feel complete. And it is in just three minutes – they have changed my life.
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