On the Plane to Paris

Flying through heavy turbulence and lightning. I'm not afraid as I may have been before.

Is this a sign of changes:

- The inner toughness that one needs in a normal day fending off beggers, without avoiding the smile that makes them feel human; as the glance patterns of the thieves go right to my pouch with its new bright golden lock.

- Absorbing the climate and not letting it dampen living.

- Dealing with uncertainty at all times and new souls on the road.

A startling dawn of rose and gold through the clouds as we pass though to Paris.

Delicate layers of clouds shoot past each other.

We turn, then the moon shines again… smiling.

My first, post-African dawn.

It feels presumptuous to rank poverty but clearly Badou can provide for his family's basic needs and Alioune was uncomfortable in much the same way that an upper class person would be among peasants.

My own "fat" embarrassed me and caused me to make silly mistakes that would have been costly.

It makes me want to live a leaner, more relevant life.

Over Washington

The strongest impressions I return with are the complexities of poverty.

Badou and his family are poor. He wants more for his family and is willing to do whatever it takes to provide a better life for them.

But his poverty is not abject like the people we saw on the streets in Dakar, and the old people begging in front of the hotel.

These people have nothing but the few clothes on their bodies and the will to survive.

The differences are obviously internal not material. Education, a wiser vision of reality, a stronger sense of Self all matter as much as the greater opportunities. Badou is poor but not abject.

In the Airport waiting for the plane to Oakland

The people here look both over fed and spiritually empty. I'm trying to remember a truly fat person in Africa, or a depressed person.

It may be that poverty reduces humans down to what's essential, both the strong and the weak. The good and the bad.

Empty abundance allows for spiritual malaise and fat.