Jan 8, 2012

An African account, and an allusive alternative approach

Fort Portal for Christmas-5
Dressed in their Christmas best, with 'staches!
This blog has been quiet for a long time, and I'm not happy about it.  In part, because I didn't know what the story is that I am trying to tell.  Moving to Africa about a year and a half ago has proven to be a spectacular journey in many ways with lots of experiences that I'd love to share.  But it has all felt different than the travelogue I wrote in this blog in Latin America. At that time my brother Tyler and I were mostly in motion, here Erin and I are mostly settled down.  We've had a lot spectacular trips, but the real essence of living deliberately in this era of my life is the settling into an exotic local (first, the southern highlands of Tanzania, now the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.)  On one hand, I need to write about the road trips: seeing elephants and giving kids mustaches.  Those will be a fun stories to tell, easily digested into bite-sized pieces.  But while those kinds of stories were much of what the 'Latin American Epic' was about, they are only a side story to what life is about now.

Mudds visit Mikumi-418The way I see 'living deliberately' today has a stronger focus on meaningful living in the non-traveler world.  It's about navigating the vast poverty, wealth, and complexities of life in Africa.  It's about understanding who is really doing good work here, and trying to join forces with them.  It's about being an uncomfortably privileged racial minority.  And it's also about the slow transition of my fierce personal independence to a union with Erin.  And these kinds of topics are the hardest to write about.  It's all a slow evolution, with plenty of stumbles along the way.  So the real story keeps changing, and most of it is likely half a life time away from a conclusion.  

Mudds visit Mikumi-183
Although getting chased by an african buffalo, or coming face to face with an lion, is something I can detail in a blogpost they don't really have a lot to say on these broader themes.   But without telling the big story it feels unforgivably misleading to tell only about the vacations.  This has been the hardest (and most wonderful) time of my life so to write only about the good times misses the whole point.  So, to date, I have taken the lazy mans compromise and did neither.   But it shouldn't be impossible for me to write about both, so long as I can get used to telling a small part of a story so vast that  I can't see the edges.  And that is my new years resolution.

So, welcome to the next stage of my deliberate life.  I can actually start this story in the same way another did 99 years ago...
"I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.  The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet.  In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold ..." Karen Blixen, in Out of Africa

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