On a warm humid night in Cambodia, I find myself playing the role of teacher yet again. But this time there is no classroom, no students, no textbooks, just two people in a room, learning about each other and looking for connection. I find myself considering the value of this experience for myself, but after nearly a week surrounded by children begging, young people working hard to make in a month what I usually make in a day, and everywhere, poverty and imbalance, I also consider how my presence might affect those around me.
It is a poignant moment when I stop thinking about myself and my needs, and begin to consider how I fit into a larger puzzle where I am meeting the needs of those around me simply by being present. And the synchronicity of events is remarkable.
A young man never before actually able to express himself, now has a willing audience and coach; a sentence uttered praising an employee in a hotel tips the scales of merit and results in a promotion; every event unraveling into a thousand different directions, and each second synchronous, necessary, and unable to be changed.
It is no wonder then that the film that perhaps affected me most this year was Crash – a film examining how lives flow and mingle, weaving a tapestry of never-ending action. And now I am here in a room with a young man that needs more than anything to be loved, and I’m the unwitting actor in tonight’s drama. What I need from tonight isn’t important. What he needs is…it’s funny how life works…