Tuesday, October 31, 2017

No History, No Culture, No Self - KNOW History, KNOW Culture, KNOW Self

I've become a friendlier person. That's one of the changes in my life that I'm happy about.

My Uber and Lyft rides have become more and more interesting with each ride I take. Last night, I was picked up at the airport by a man with an accent, a Lyft driver. It's one of the first things I recognize when I first meet my drivers. Naturally, out of curiosity, I had to ask where he was from. It's been my leading question often these days, and it's a great conversation starter.

His name is Guy, and he told me that he is from Haiti. Quick to draw on my memory banks,  I asked if he speaks French, which I recalled is a major language of Haitians. He does. And then I asked if he was from Port-au Prince, to which he responded that he was from a town on the outskirts with a French sounding name like most other cities, town, and villages in Haiti have. Guy immediately started to break out his historical facts of the Haiti, most of which I had no idea about.

He zoned in on the French colonization / occupation and then on to the revolutionary times. I sensed that he welcomed this conversation and looked for an outlet to let his freedom of speech go. As I complimented him on his spectacular knowledge of history and politics, he, funny enough, mentioned how happy he was to be able to speak to "someone like" me. I asked him who that might be, and he said someone who is curious and engaging in conversation. It made me happy to be the recipient of his knowledge. And it brought back to mind a quote I'd heard many years ago that drove my self-awareness:
"No history, no culture, no self. KNOW History, KNOW culture, KNOW self."
Guy has aspirations of making documentaries about Haiti and Haitians, the history, the politics, and the culture all with the point of enlightening others about the struggles and strife their people have endured over the years. His near-future goal is to save money for a decent camera with which to produce the videos he intends on posting to YouTube. I wished him well on his dreams and hoped to see something come of it in the future.

My conversation with him made me look back at my own history of shyness, of being closed-off, possibly even standoff-ish in my demeanor. But I really am not. Taking a step back and reminding myself of my culture, my education, my knowledge base allowed me to be confident in speaking with others. Opening up has given me comfort in being more friendly towards others and accepting of who they are, as I hope that they accept who I am. I know my self better than I did before. It's taken a few years (34) but at least there is improvement.

I hope to continue to chatting with my ride-share drivers. They've mostly been pleasant, engaging,  and forthcoming with their stories. I admire them for their service and their attitudes.

Do you strike up conversation with your Uber / Lyft drivers? If not, it's not too late to start. (533)

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