Monday, January 16, 2012

Common Ground

They all sat in their own space, elbow to elbow, in silence and anticipation. They had studied long and hard to prepare for a day such as today. But within their separate unseen walls they were isolated by language and culture barriers. Unable to communicate their mix of fear and excitement, they kept their eyes averted, their heads down, each praying to their own, each in a language native to them.
At lunch time there was some movement. Each unpacked their brown bags or vinyl packs. Scents of seasons and liquids penetrated the dull room as they ate in their continued silence. The chewing and slurring and grumbling stomachs seemed louder in the silence now.

As they bags were tossed, they lay their heads in many directions, catching some rest before the work would begin. The breathing was rhythmic and one would think this group was in sync. But their lives were each disconnected from the other, all drawn here for a different reason and or purpose. The dreams they dreamed were their own.

Then the sounds came from above. The roars of the helicopter woke them each. And with precise movement they moved, patterns and routine were evident. The noise became louder as it came closer.

As they hit the ground running, common ground was quickly discovered among this group. A single purpose now…to save lives. The injured were moved out quickly, stretchers on the ground. Each individual now became part of a team, each doing their specific role, creating a function of saving lives.

Communication suddenly opened, not in words, but through eyes and hands. Directions were given, details to problems…with points, grunts, and urgency in their pupils. This went on for hours…and then days. Triumphs were shared with hands held high, smiles across faces; discouraged hugs and hands on shoulders when the goals were not reached.

The days passed, and this journey was over. None shared a name, an address or a phone number. But the memories of this day, the faces and the people were etched in each one’s mind. They were no longer connected with the vision of these days. They walked away from this common ground…back into a world of their own.

The prompt that inspired this piece:
At what point does a person stop being a stranger to you? How do you determine the difference between a new friend and an old enemy? Who, exactly, owns the tree that seems to be growing on the property line between you and your neighbor?

This week's theme is "Common Ground." I'm sure there are all kinds of different ways to interpert that theme, so I'm excited to see what you all come up with.
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