I have been home – across the world and back – for the holiday season. It’s surreal to visit your family as a guest, a fly on the wall of their collective reality, when mine is so different and so far away. I pick and choose which parts of home to embrace, and which to leave behind; remove my emotional investment.
There is a price to be paid for this definitely. I think over the years it has eroded my sense of home in it’s entirety. Sentimentality is replaced by a certain cynisism and the problems of the West seem to pale in comparison to what I see on the streets of Ghana. I am left in limbo. Not truly immersed in or entrapped by what being here means to it’s people, yet so far removed from what it means to live in a Western society, with reliable water and power and shopping malls on every corner.
I found an interesting website, If It Were My Home, that points out how different our lives are, based on the ‘lottery’ of where as a human soul, we are born.
It’s very North American centric, but allows you to compare the standards of living in Canada or America to most any other country in the world.
Below is a snapshot of a comparative analysis between Canada and Ghana.
What strikes me is what the statistics don't say. What they cannot. Like the fact that if you are in Ghana in January, you will wake up to a sky full of sand, blown far from it's home in the Sahara desert - it is in your teeth, all over your home. You wake unsquinting to a sun that stares back at you - calmly and defined like the moon, easily visible through the haze. The light of the day like a permanent twilight will guide and mold your mood. This is the unknown season of harmattan...
The stats cannot explain the fact that you will have no idea, no concept of what it is to walk outside to the assault of a Canadian winter morning cold. The kind that takes your breath away and brings you to tears instantly. Your eyelashes, coated with your tears, instantly become icicles. The tips of your ears, if uncovered, begin to lose feeling and you are overcome by shivers.
Life in two places can be so very different, and living between the two is a surreal experience indeed.