3.24.2011

Dramamine & Jazz music

Dramamine is a total essential for me in Haiti, and really, if I'm being honest, if I'm not behind the wheel, its an essential for me even in the U.S. But especially in Haiti! My dramamine intake has dramatically increased in the last 3 months. It makes for a more pleasant ride. Instead of focusing on trying to regulate my breathing, dealing with the cold/hot sweats, or thinking about my face turning green, or what would happen if I vomited. I can focus on the people I drive by, the country, the mountains, the rice fields, the driving, the potholes, etc. A few weeks ago I rode into Cap Haitian to pick up Daniel and Hudson when they arrived here to spend their spring breaks here working on projects around camp. I thankfully remembered to take my dramamine and it was a very pleasant ride into town. I was able to focus on looking out the window and also be engaged in things that were happening inside the car. One of those things being the Jazz music that Gersan was listening to. I was thinking to myself, "I don't really like Jazz all that much, I like the sound, but its so disorganized." As those thoughts were in my head Gersan mentioned a friend of his that said she didn't "get" Jazz. Immediately I felt an "AMEN!" That's my problem, its not that I don't like it. Its that I don't "get" it. Then, as is so normal for Gersan he dove into the reasons why he loved it, and tried to explain it to those car, as if to make his non present friend understand Jazz. He said there is the main drumline, or the main baseline. They set the tone and keep the song going, the trombone or the sax or the trumpet just kinda do their own thing and try to make it work with what the drums and bass are doing. Sometimes the sax and the trumpet clash for a while, but then sometimes it all works together and sounds great. As I was staring out the window, and had a clear, vomit-free mind, and contemplating the nuances of Jazz music, I realized that Jazz and Haiti are a lot alike. I don't "get" either of them. There are so, so many things about Haiti that I don't "get". There are days (and Jazz songs) that I totally get and love. And would listen to, or live over and over again. There are days (and Jazz songs) that I don't get at all and not only that, but they are frustrating and I honestly look forward to nothing more than them being over. Everyone in Haiti, to some extent marches to the beat of their own drum Saxaphone. There is a baseline, or, in voodoo culture, a drum beat that defines the lives of everyone. Many of the people have the same baseline, but what they do with their trumpet and sax can be oh, so different! Sometimes they work together beautifully, but sometimes it makes me want to reach for the "skip/search" button on the stereo. There are things that hold them together, poverty, hardship, language, etc. But there are so many differences, jobs, family relationsips, religion, etc. Each person chooses to be part of a team, or to make their own tune.

As I listen to the music of Haiti, I find myself sometimes reaching for the dramamine. That way I don't have to deal with the ugly or hardship that makes me want to turn green and vomit. I want to be comfortable. I want to pretend that everyone else is comfortable. See what I want to see. But I pray that I won't. I pray that I won't be comfortable with things around me. I have heard the term "compassion drainage", where people, like me, who have seen poverty and pain will see it as normal. It is not normal. Nothing about this country is normal. Nothing about orphans, sickness, poverty, or voodoo is normal. I pray that I will look at Haiti without dramamine eyeglasses. Its good to be uncomfortable sometimes, it makes me trust my Lord more, and praise Him loudly when I step foot on solid ground again.


As I study Haiti. I want to hear the beauty in every Jazz song. Every sax solo, and every compilation. I don't want to have to take dramamine to keep me from getting motion sickness. I want to experience it all, happy, sad, painful, joyful, or heartbreaking. As God intended. It is all music to His ears.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this post, the occasionally sporadic nature of Jazz feels allot like Haiti. Keep up the great work your doing there and I'll be praying for you, especially the next month after the Valicns leave.
Dan Fran

Heath and Rebecca Clark said...

Very well said. I thoroughly enjoyed the analogies. :-) I think writing this blog and explaining Haiti to those who have yet to see it will help you keep things in perspective...just like you are doing! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Noelle,
You're doing a great job in Haiti! I've enjoyed keeping up with your blog. Thanks for posting it! I'm praying for you.
Gabe

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