Dances with Gabriel García

“But the stubborn descendants of the twenty-one intrepid people who plowed through the mountains in search of the sea to the west avoided the reefs of the melodic mix up and the dancing went on until dawn.”

                                                ~One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

 I read at night before I fall asleep. In India, I read One Hundred Years of Solitude. For a few minutes, I flit away from the weight of discovery falling pound by pound onto my shoulders and to the ethereal swamps of South America where Márquez weaves stories into the fabric of the land he creates. One evening I find a sentence I cannot look away from. I scribble it into my notebook next to the name of an NGO coordinator and countless questions about my moral compass. For some sleep fogged reason, I refuse to move past this sentence. I am captivated.

 It is only when morning comes again that I realize why I have chosen this quote from hundreds of fictional pages and multitudes of transformative, overwhelming experiences in the city of Ahmedabad. First, let me reveal that I feel the world through words. I understand what it means to fall in love with a phrase, a language, a connection made through the power of written communication. I sift through the sentence. I slowly come to terms with my unexpected connection between this fantastical novel and the past four days.

 Niswarth is eye opening.

 With astonishing rapidity, we meet people who believe in the intrinsic goodness of humanity. We meet children who smile because the day is sunny and they are glad to be alive. We meet those inspired to make a change in who they are, to make some small difference in the world they inhabit, or to find the thousand tiny magical moments in each day of their lives. They paint a golden picture, though theirs is the gritty work that is as unending as human poverty.

 And yet, I am captivated.

 I discover that this strange affinity for my one particular sentence comes down to the “stubborn,” to the “intrepid” and the “dancing.” Each word sends tremors up and down my spine. Each word brings back the sweltering angawadi where intrepid volunteers tirelessly feed young children and weigh them to prevent malnourishment, or the stubborn optimism of Vandana, who reminds us that “every day there are so many wonderful things happening.”

 Most importantly, it reminds me of what founder of ServiceSpace Nipun Metha references in his graduation speech to an elite prep school much like Andover. Throughout life, always remember to give, to receive, and to dance. I have chosen to dance with the Niswarth experience, to swirl and balance, to spin and change direction fluidly. To be acutely aware of those around me as I move to the rhythm. I am assured that no quantity of pages will fulfill my desire to dance. It is time I put down the book.