Suspended Animation

Barker Carlock - Senegal


May 15, 2013

Flight is truly a miracle, a spectacular marvel. There are four main principles to the concept of flight: lift, drag, weight, and thrust. I feel as though all of these forces are compounded upon me from all directions creating my first few days back in the States a sort of suspended animation. Never would I have thought that re-entry to my old life would have been so difficult. For my reverse culture shock, I am spending most of my time in airports an airplanes stopping for extended periods at every destination for college visits. Dallas to New York, New York to Chicago, Chicago to Little Rock, Little Rock to Dallas.

I think that my soul took off at DFW and has yet to land. It lost itself somewhere in a cloud. I went into a country with the name Barker Carlock and I left with the name Mamadou Diop. As I am now trying to find where to land, I would like to blame the sequestration of the FAA for my suspension. I changed as a person when I was Mamadou Diop. It’s not as though I became Senegalese; I became myself. This is what is so difficult about coming home: I am finally myself yet am no longer bound to the molds of where I come from. I left my community in Senegal ready to leave and rush back to my previous life. All of that is catching up to me. The home that I thought I knew that I was coming back to is much different than the home that I am experiencing now. I convinced myself that many of my emotional struggles and feelings that I was harboring in-country would simply go away. But in actuality, they were brought into the light. Re-entering into my life in the U.S. has shown me that the things that I carried in Senegal did not get taken up by the customs officers in Dakar.

To put simply, traveling is empty. Traveling can easily become a way for us to run from ourselves, our emotions, and our pasts. The ubiquitous stir keeps us from having to dig into our sentiment and really pry ourselves for the answers. You may be surrounded by people in the planes or waiting at the gates, but those people are going places. They have no care for the present place which is presented to them. They are in a rush. They don’t have time for someone like me, and unfortunately, the modality of movement is completely contradictory to what I need in sorting out my cloud of emotion.

And why, may I ask, do we have to be saturated in technology and electronics? I mean do we really need to have our soap, water, and paper dispensed electronically? What does that say of our Character? What does that DO to our Character? We empower ourselves with technologies and smart phones so as in order to distract from the quiescence that our souls need in order to find closure to experiences. At one point, I found myself trying to distinguish between people, their technology, and the many auxiliary accessories, but I couldn’t; they were one in the same. Americans are weird. And saying that scares me because that must make me super weird. I still do things that are “abnormal,” and people are always giving me weird looks like the man sitting next to me on one flight who was confused when I asked him if he would like a bit of my French fries.

In the air, it’s quite an anxiety-inducing atmosphere. You are buckled into your uncomfortable seat and sitting still but relative to the ground you are moving at remarkable speeds for a human being. And everyone has to trust one power—the pilot. Those in the plane are impotent to the future that besets them. For me, it is always easy to drift and forget what I can do, what I can’t, and what I hold to be truth. I am a strong believer in God and hold onto to what I believe but in times like these it feels almost fleeting in the high emotions. Regardless of your belief system, it is pinnacle in understanding and reminding ourselves that we are in the hands of a being much greater than ourselves and that the final destination is much greater than a content soul. As I continue in this transition period, I understand where my hope comes from, and I am patient with myself and those around me understanding that my soul will once again safely touchdown.

Barker Carlock