Finding that place.
10.04.2014 - 10.04.2014 20 °C
EDIT: it's since been raining and I am not sure a run is in my near future. . . . this makes me feel anxious and restless. I hope to seek refuge on the soccer fields.
My head is literally exploding with things to write about so let me try to hone in on what it is I want to get across.
I just went for a run, my third one since being here – which is seemingly crazy considering I’ve been here for one month and I’m used to running at least once a week so certainly my head has been super maxed out, what with not having my usual mental defragmentation series that the run so graciously provides. I digress, the run today was amazing and much more meditative, awe inspiring, and connective, and for that, I am deeply grateful.
I came to realize I had been so incredibly focused on what wasn’t – i.e., that I didn’t have the ocean to run by, the mountains, that I didn’t have the even, solid, and predictable running terrain I’m so used to, that I didn’t have the silence and solitude of the west that comes ironically from people being quiet, disconnected, and in their own heads thus generally ignoring others as they pass (not actually a great thing when you think about it but makes for a quiet run)…. In addition, I had no idea of a clear running route, and I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to find my way home – everything was so new. I do this a lot though, jump the gun so to speak, – forget that it takes time to adjust to a new place, and that you can’t instantly be in the “groove” of things. It’s been a good reminder that life happens, slowly, or quickly, it just does, and we adapt and quite simply, we need to be okay in letting that take whatever time it needs to, to not force or rush anything. “Let go and let be”…isn’t that a saying or proverb?
Some backstory, arguably unnecessary but here we go.
The first run I did was with Jon, who was the previous finance volunteer (unfortunately he’s gone now that I arrived). Jon took me on a great route that included many mambo’s, habari’s and polinis, spoken from the neighbours, as well as kids running alongside, with so much laughter and sounds of joy escaping their mouths. A difficult run given that my body was still adjusting to the new climate, altitude, and general atmosphere, but was glad to get moving again. The run ended through a series of maize fields though, so I was certain I would not be able to retrace the steps on my own and hesitated for quite a while until I ventured out for round two.
The second run I did was a Saturday, late morning, around 11am. It had rained quite a lot the night before so it was muddy and slippery, but I really needed to just get out! So, in addition to the added challenges as noted above, I also had to also ensure I was not slipping and falling on the muddy roads which proved to be an interesting challenge. But one that, in the end, I managed– aka I didn’t fall, so that’s a bonus (I almost did…. but I caught myself in the knick of time).
So after those two runs I was feeling rather discouraged, and inside, somewhat frantic, feeling a bit like “how the crush am I going to be able to live here a year if I can’t RUN!”… and I don’t just mean run, I mean…. run like I need - which is, a run with which my surroundings provide me with the ability to tune out so that I can tune in….to my brain and let the thoughts flow and process, while I undergo a reboot.
I felt a little helpless and overwhelmed at the thought of not being able to get that for a year, but a piece of me remained confident that I’d find a way to make it work. And find a way I did…or rather, it found me. And thank goodness it did.
It’s funny, or fantastic, how the universe works. Yesterday in the office/library I stumbled upon these cards that, on one side say “Treasures from Tikashi”, and on the other side, there are these amazing words of wisdom. I have no idea where they came from (assuming a previous volunteer), or what Tikashi means (I have yet to look it up) but the quotes were exactly what I needed.
Picking cards at random, they were all resonating very deeply with me, and in looking back, they were exactly what I needed to find, and ingest into my psyche- to remember what is truly going on here, with me, and in general.
I was trying so hard to figure out what the meaning of this whole trip was, why I was here, trying to have all these revelations….the card entitled “Clarity” helped to remind me that I can just be in the flow, that, indeed, “allowing creates flow” – beautiful!
I was also judging my experiences based on past experiences and on expectations, both consciously and not, so reading the one about allowing new situations to be as they are was incredibly helpful.
“Co-operation” – with myself, of course, and synchronistically enough I had been thinking about co-operative models and wondering how that might work here. For example, where we have many people who own cattle and produce milk, but operate in their own silos, …what that might look like to get a farmers’ cooperative going.
And living in the now, of course a very appropriate one, always but hard to actually put into practice.
Now I’m not sure if it was the endorphins of the run, or the reading of those cards (I think it was a bit of both) but as I approached Kesho Leo (where the mamas and kids stay, and where the school is), I felt a strong inclination to stop and turn around – honestly have no idea why, but wow am I glad I did.
Before me, lay Mt. Meru in all her glory (I will give her a gender, seems more connecting). Beautifully crisp and clear, a mammoth of a mountain, and my heart was filled with so much love. I thought – here I had been focusing on wanting - wanting the oceans, the mountains, the pavement, the smells, the moment when the ocean air turns to forest air, indicating I was close to my “stopping to reflect” point -the runs I got to experience back home, feeling lonely without them. And yet, here I was, in a majestic place, surrounded by so much beauty - this was here, all along, right in front of me and I failed to notice it because I was so fixated on what was not, versus what was. All I had to do was turn around and be present to the moment. Easier said than done, of course. We get so caught up in our heads –or at least I do.
The moment you stop focusing on what isn’t,
and turn around to see,
I wish I had my camera there to capture that moment, but then likely I would have been preoccupied with getting the “best” shot and not been present to the moment, so, I’ll have to use my words.
To my left , kushoto, was Mt. Meru, around me, out a ways, were a few local homes made of cement, complete with lines of clothes, drying in the faint breeze, to my right, kuliwa, was a field of flowers, reds, pinks, purples, whites, all bled together to create a beautiful mosaic, swaying to the movements of nature. There were fields of Maize as well and in the distance I could hear music; behind me, Kesho Leo. I could also hear what I assumed to be conversation in the distance but to me it was just noise because my Swahili is not yet at the place where the sounds become words which converge into meaning. I took a seat on a slightly grassy patch amongst the dirt and merely observed this perfect moment I was so fortunate to be present to. The moment where I felt like I was settling in, meaning was re-emerging, and where I was in utter harmony with the natural world. I was flooded with gratitude, and as I looked up to embrace the feeling, there I saw, our beautiful moon, Mwezi.
“This is my spot” I thought. This is the spot I will come to, mid-run, especially when I’m feeling maxed out and need to just chill and be one with nature. This is IT. I’m so glad I found it. Thank-you to whatever it was that propelled me to stop and turn around, and not just keep running.
It’s funny, isn’t it – how such majestic beauty can be literally right behind you, and you can miss it if you fail to stop, turn around, and absorb your surroundings. And, it’s not like I have not seen Mt. Meru looking beautiful before, I have many photos of her… but not whilst running and not mid-run, and not in that moment that I witnessed – away from the pointed fingers, “Mzungu” screams - away from all of that mental distraction.
But back to my looking up at the moon because something else came over me as I did so. I thought about how I am seeing the moon now, based on where I am situated on our planet earth, and my family and friends back home in Canada (specifically I was thinking Vancouver or Calgary) would not yet see the moon but in due time, when night fell upon them, they would. But, it would not be the exact same moon I’m looking at now, it will be whatever the moon is like when they see it. Which sounds pretty standard, but really when you think about it, it’s pretty mind boggling.
So, despite feeling like I’m living in the future over here, we’re all just living, simultaneously. Every moment, we are living together. One side of the world to the other, it’s all happening now, not 10 hours before or after.
Time leads us to believe that if it’s, say, 6pm in Arusha on Thursday April 10th, that Vancouver has not yet had its 6pm Thursday session, and thus not lived that moment yet. But in reality, my 6pm will not be the same 6pm for Vancouver, it can’t be. Days do not replicate, life just is. While Vancouver, too, will get its 6pm Thursday, it will be a new moment and not a repeat of my 6pm moment - seemingly the same, but entirely different. And so it hit me, harder than ever, how much time really is a human construct; a very helpful one at that, but a construct none the less. That all we have is the moment, each and every moment. This moment right now for me is the same moment right now for someone in Vancouver.
Even as I type this it sounds trivial. I’m trying to recount the clarity that I had inside me whilst sitting there in that field but I can’t quite bring it all back. For a brief moment it all made sense, time, space, being, life, existence – it made perfect sense ….but perhaps I’ve now got back to the technologies…the clock…and the clarity has somewhat dispersed itself.
While it seems like I’m living in the future, or ahead, it’s all still the same moment, and therefore emphasizing that time is indeed a human construct and that all there is this moment, and now this one. While the day versus night gives the illusion that it’s a different moment, the fact that I can get on the internet and talk to someone who is experiencing day, while I experience night, at the same moment, proves time is not real. What is real is the present moment. And, it is all happening, simultaneously. LIFE.