Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dancing & Smiling

A friend sent this to me this morning and watching it made me smile:

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

For more info, check out the website www.wherethehellismatt.com -- if you are like me and become obsessed with finding out not only where the hell Matt is but who the hell Matt is, you will watch one of the lengthy video lectures that he has embedded in his "About" section and you will hear him share anecdotes about traveling that will make you nod your head and agree with him that Americans are too insular and isolated in terms of their thinking about the rest of the world and that while globe trotting certainly won't solve the problems of the planet, there is something to be said about going outside your comfort zone and traveling to places and meeting people from cultures completely foreign to you that is so true.

[June 25, 2008--Addition: I just remembered what it was that I liked about Matt Harding's video commentary. He talked about Rwanda being one of his favorite places (it's in the second dance video, Dancing 2006) in his travels, and he spoke about going there during Hope week, which is the week that honors the Rwandan Genocide--and when he was there it was the 10 year anniversary of the atrocities. And when he described what he loved about the particular clip of him dancing with the kids in the clip (you can see more of him dancing with the kids in the Dancing 2005 Outtakes) he said that most of the time, in the U.S., our only images of Africa are of deprivation and horror, which alienates us from people who live in these countries. And that there aren't enough images about everyday people doing everyday things and being happy. It's a similar sentiment I've heard among people working in developing nations and in various sub-Saharan African nations in particular--that for most of "The West" we view "Africa" as this mass continent of darkness, literal and figurative, and associate it with privation and war, famine and genocide and oppression. And that this renders individual countries and more importantly, individual people as an indistinct mass of suffering rather than seeing them in their own particular ways as people with distinct personalities and histories who have stories to tell that aren't simply about being victimized. I think it's an important perspective--not that we shouldn't be reminded of past horrors, like Rwandan genocide, or ongoing atrocities, like what's happening in Sudan, but that there is also resilience and resistance and strength and hope. And dancing.]


Paul said...

My favorite parts are when Matt dances with dogs.

Trish said...

Lyrics for the music were adapted from this poem:

Stream of Life

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day

runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth

in numberless blades of grass

and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth

and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Jennifer said...

Paul--I KNEW you were going to pick the parts with the dogs as your favorite! And Trish, thanks for the lyrics/poem. The words do have a joyful ring to them. Although I have to admit to enjoying them more within the song and not in English. Do you ever find that this is true? Certain phrases, songs, poems are just simply breathtakingly beautiful in a language other than English, and then when you get things translated they seem to fall a bit flat. Like "mon petite chou"--so cute! So French? And in English it's just a little cabbage.

Eastern Reflections said...

I've seen his videos before, they are awesome and just teases that travel bug in me mercilessly :-) This video gave me the particular warm fuzzies inside though :-D

Several friends (new ones I made and old ones) that were kind enough to show me around their home countries while I was traveling the Mid-east always asked why the American media portrayed the region in such a negative light. A friend's aunt said "Islam is our culture, it is our life. The veil I wear isn't forced on me, and it doesn't make me feel oppressed, so why do they portray it that way?"

It makes me so angry watching the news lately! ugh!