Thursday, January 3, 2013

We're the Lucky Ones...

In April I will have lived in Rwanda (with a short stint in Kenya) for four years.  If you would have told me in April 2009 this is where I would be in January 2013 I would have laughed....but secretly I would have wished it was true.  My dream was always to live abroad, experience other people's cultures, other lives, other places.  Today it is my reality.  

The other day Jock called me from California.  Sadly, he had to make a impromptu trip home.  His mother passed away.  The longer your away the more strange things seem at home.  Is it still home?  He said to me, "We're the lucky ones..."  I think I was talking about the steering going whacky on the Land Cruiser again, complaining about the incessant rain and why it makes the house smell like a moldy tennis shoe and "We're the lucky ones...."  He said we're the lucky ones because we live with a little bit of "lack" in our lives.  Because our viewpoint comes from a little bit of lack, when we do receive it is momentous.  

Being in South Africa, being in Africa during Christmas is refreshing.  I get enough of the American based consumerism frenzy in the name of the Baby Jesus via Facebook.  It's revolting.  If you need to give someone a gift because they will "defriend" you, even if it's your family, perhaps you should rethink your relationship.  

A few days before Christmas I was with friends in the tiny beach town of Pringle Bay, Western Cape, South Africa.  They have three amazing young children.  It is startling how engaging young people can be when they have "lacked" the inane hypnotic trance of television.  I arrived at their home, no Christmas tree, no pile of gifts, just books all over the floor and legos.  I love legos.  My brother was a lego kid....he turned out okay, actually, he now builds things for a living.  The kids took a tree (not pine) their mother had bought, went out cut a few branches off the scrub bushes in the yard, added them to the tree and decorated it with pipe cleaners and garland.  It was spectacular.  There were no presents piled under it.  I am sure they had gifts, but that was not the focus.  There was simple appreciation in the house.  This family has does not lack, but the appreciation for time with family is astounding.

We're the lucky very true.  Every day I think about what I have done, seen and lived through these past four years.  Life is difficult at times...a lot of times, but the peace and contentment I have spent most of my life searching for is there and I have so much less than I have ever had, but I am richer than most.  I have nothing extra to clutter the space in life.  I live in the space.

We're the lucky ones...if your life is not dependent upon how many pounds of charcoal you can haul to market on your're the lucky one.
If you're a woman in America thank God, Allah, Buddha, the mother earth whomever you believe in you were born American.  You hit the birth lotto, there is such thing as luck and being born a woman in America is it.  Someone said to me (somewhat paraphrased as I can't remember it word for word through the shock)....there's not a country who hates women or blacks more than America.  I beg to disagree.  I do not think Rwanda hates women, but I do believe it is more of an uphill cultural battle in Rwanda for a woman.  

I've never had to carry charcoal on my head for my family to eat.

We're the lucky ones....if your entire life has never depended on riding a bike faster than thousands of other kids to take care of your family and have a shot of owning a mud/brick house someday, perhaps with water and electricity of you're really fast....count yourself lucky.  Patrick and Ephraim, 17 and 16 have only a bike, no education, no money, no one to help them.  They can only hope they become the next Adrien and even then, life will be no where near most of the poorest in America....

We're the lucky ones...

We're the lucky ones....on any given day when my only mode of transportation starts and the steering behaves up and down the winding road to Kigali I am thankful.  I did not have a car when I first moved to Rwanda and that was a bit unsettling....two hours from the nearest big city in Africa with no car?  I'll take the Team Land Cruiser with 153,000 miles on it and bad steering.  I guarantee you my appreciation factor is much greater than someone who gets a new vehicle every three years because their car is just getting "old".  

We're the lucky in Las Vegas I went to over the top New Year's parties.  Once Cirque de Soleil performed in the pool at the private home where we rang in the new year.  Having Jimmy, Valerie, Tom and Laila with me, keeping me company ringing in the New Year with a bottle of champagne from Duty Free and Fois Gras from France, friends who knew I just a bit sad this year and came to the rescue....we're the lucky ones.
And then days and days of rain and more rain leads to evenings when the clouds break and the sun falls behind the volcanoes and I sit and just watch it without being rushed, without a scad of other distractions vying for my attention and I am truly happy to the core of my soul....I'm the lucky one.

This New Year I hope everyone has a little "lack" in their life so you can truly appreciate the blessings which surround you ever day.  All the New Year's resolutions and wiping the slate clean and losing weight, eating right, working out....just take this New Year to realize....we're the lucky ones.

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