Sunday, May 9, 2010

Life.....a Beautiful Ride

Life Ain't Always Beautiful -- Gary Allan

Life aint always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart

Life aint always beautiful
You think you're on your way
And it's just a dead end road at the end of the day

But the struggles make you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way of takin it's sweet time

No, life aint always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life aint always beautiful
But it's a beautiful ride
What a beautiful ride

The other day I was riding my bike along the road to Gisenyi and the song above came on. It made me think a lot about the last couple of months.

Before I went to Italy I was "burnt". I was short fused, irritated and just flat out worn out. Africa has a way of doing that to you. My gauge is Max, Mr. Easy Going Ntchybazo Man. When he starts to yell, become annoyed and call people stupid, it's time to go. He can take it more than all of us and if he snaps we are all over the edge.

Two weeks in Italy was an experience in all things esthetically beautiful. I stood in awe of the beautiful hundreds year old churches and buildings. In Asolo, Italy I sat in a 17th century cathedral as the clock struck 12 and listened to the ringing church bells. I completely love that sound. It reminds me of the churches in the small town in Wisconsin where my grandparents once lived. I stayed for a week at Lake Como, breathtakingly beautiful. I rode a beautiful tricked out Specialized through the tiny towns along the lake, all picture post card gorgeous. The cars were beautifully new and not one spewed the dreaded black cloud of diesel so familiar on my rides in Africa. But Italy is supposed to be beautiful. The people are friendly, warm and welcoming. This is why we go to Italy. Italy reminded me it is okay to appreciate the finer things in life once again. It doesn't mean I don't care for my life in Africa, in all actuality it brought me to remember the beauty I found when I moved here over a year ago.

Beauty in the colors of Rwanda. All the colorful clothes worn by these amazing, hard working women of Rwanda. (Picture courtesy of Mjrka Bees)
I once again see the beauty in the smiles of the children running alongside me when I ride on the road to Gisenyi. I do not see the boys that ride alongside me on their single speeds hauling potatoes as a "nuisance" but rather as just wanting to be part of that moment with me. Plus, they can all tell their buddies over banana beer that they beat the Muzungu girl on the fancy bike! I am talking to them again, trying to remember, how fortunate I am to have grown up how I did. I stop and see the beautiful smiles of the young girls as they marvel at this girl with the wild blonde hair riding with the local boys. I want to teach them to ride.

The most beautiful thing about the boys of Team Rwanda is their skin. I have never seen such beautiful skin. Their black is almost a blue black, especially on Kiki and NicNic. God made a perfect sculpture when he made the Rwandan cyclist body. Their smooth dark skin over their lean muscles with not a mark or a freckle is a creation of perfection.
(Photo courtesy of Mjrka Bees)
The smiles of Nathan and Obed...beautiful.

The conversation with Nathan about how much better is life is being on Team Rwanda after dealing with a not so grateful long term Team member complaining and demanding more....beautiful....

The hills on the way to Kigali during sunrise with the mist coming off the valley floor...beautiful...

The sound of this glorious 7th Day Adventist choir singing next door on the Sabbath...beautiful...

In Italy I was reminded to treat myself to things that are nice, that make life easier, so I can better handle the rest of life, the not so pretty parts....I bought a beautiful desk that makes it easier to work and a joy to work at and...a washing machine....a beautiful, commercial capacity, 10 cycle washing machine. Yes, I have found joy in washing 10 loads of clothes.

I have even begun to find beauty in the not so beautiful things in life....instead of stressing about the lack of electricity, I plan my time around the outages and have actually read two very good books, The Blue Sweater, about microfinance in Rwanda and the Acumen Fund, and an old school classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Maybe that book has had a little to do with my finding beauty in the little things again.

I have found beauty in things that would only make me angry in the past. I appear to have this nasty, hateful "stalker" on my blog who insists on posting the most ignorant rants and childish comment posts after most blogs. What I find MOST BEAUTIFUL about the "anonymous (read too scared to stand behind my rants)" commenter is that they are READING my blog. If Mr./Ms. Anonymous really hates me so much why do you waste your valuable time reading my blog? THAT is truly BEAUTIFUL!!!

Yes, things still frustrate me, I am human and I am Type A. But I have been reminded what an amazing RIDE this last year has been for me. I have learned so much about myself and I have learned the importance of people and relationships, stability and security, faith and risk. I truly have a beautiful life.