Before i came to Uganda I was captivated by the rareness and mysterious beauty of Africa. Even the idea of Africa brought to mind a primitiave substance, an untouched life and vibration, a purity that nowhere else in the world had. I pictured the roaring lion, the painted warrior, the tribal fire.
Then i came to Africa. What I've seen is not what I expected. I haven't joined in the tribal hunt or trecked through the overgrown bush. I've ridden a bicycle through a town with electricity, taught Charles Dickens and Microsoft Word. I've watched soccer being broadcast from England and heard news coming from China. I guess what I expected was a land untouched, allowed to grow and change with the dynamics of its own rhythm. I thought I'd see a people unaware of the world and more aware of themselves than anyone I'd ever met.
What I got was different. I got a school full of kids who wanted to know, who were willing to give me a chnace. I got a community who took me in, who laughed at me, but also laughed with me. I got a group of friends who invited me into their homes, who were willing to travel long distances with me so that i might just meet their friends and family. I got a village full of kids who yell my name in frightened ecstasy when I run by. I got a taste of foods, languages, and people I could never have imagined.
What I'm trying to say is, I came out here because of a mystic, because of a circle of life I thought I was entering into. But it wasn't there, at least not for me, or how I expected. After two years of living in a place that's more or less completely different than what I dreamt, I've learned this: This place has that mystic, that rare beauty, and it's more present and more abundant than I had ever hoped.
I'll tell you what Im afriad of. I mean, what I'm really fearful of. I'm afriad that, everyday countless people pass by me going to the market or to visit a friend in the village, and it's beautiful. I'm afriad that each evening the sun seems to set over this green and brown land where the dusk stirs up insects and the music of man can be heard just across the swamp. Every morning, the kids walk, or run, or wrestle towards school and when they get just past my gate they stop, peak through the bushes as the white man and think I can't see them. I'm afriad that every morning, without fail, the same, hideous-looking chicken comes up to my lawn, pecking for insects and defecating in the same place, and I scare him away. I'm afriad that there's something so kind and true and selfless in the way that people invite me into their homes, spend time talking with me, and are genuinelly happy when I get to meet their family. I'm afraid that all this is true...and that I'm missing it.
As my time in Uganda draws to a close, I constantly find myself thinking of different places and different faces. I have to bring myself back to the here and now and try desperately to take hold of it while I still can. I begin to wonder if my mind and heart haven't been constantly wandering for the past two years. I listened to a man speak of place recently. He spoke about how we tend constantly to be looking for the "right place," or looking towards, "the next place," and all the time missing the fact that the best place for us, for now, is where we are. This isn't to breed complacency or lack of striving, but contentment, then appreciation, then peace.
When I just stop for a few minutes, when I pull in my thoughts and let them rest on the now, I realize how amazing this place is.
I was on the bus the other day, looking around me, and realized what a love for color this place has. I was sitting in my standard soft green shirt and khaki trousers, but all around me were people in bright greens, blues, yellows, and reds. Heck, half the shops in town are painted either bright yellow or bright pink! There is life here in the midst of the seemingly toilsome monoteny of waking up, farming, caring for the house, and farming again. There's something unique. Maybe it has to do with the reliance and connection to the earth. Maybe it has to do with the family of eight or ten or twelve all staying together; all doing their part. I don't know. I don't claim to know why exactly or from where this subtle, sustained glow comes from. But i do know, that very soon, there a chance i wont get to see it anymore, and I desperately want it to take hold of me and change me while there's still time.
5 days ago