Never before in the States would I be found composing a Word document at 06:30am, let alone even awake by then. But, let’s be honest, Peace Corps has a way of turning anyone’s daily, monthly, yearly, personal, short term, and long term calendars all upside down. Which I don’t find bad at all – the last type of person I want to be is one so regimented that deviating from a plan causes acute anxiety. So here I am: writing a semi-groggy bloggy, bobbing my head to Hot Buttered Rum (“Three Point Two” references Peace Corps!), and sipping pumpkin coffee with my family’s cows’ milk in my 45°F hut. It’s interesting to think that my current situation doesn’t exactly scream ‘rural Africa’, nor does it proclaim ‘city dweller’; it’s a state that millions of people of varying races, nationalities, creeds, orientations, and economic and social strata may enjoy in the early morning (granting literacy and perhaps trading the computer for paper). Kinda cool – I cheers my coffee to all of you who are doing the same as I.
This weekend brings big plans…I’m trimming my hair, straightening up my hut, toting water, spending time with my family, and labeling 60 children’s books I’ve chosen from the Books For Africa shipment to donate to my village’s new crèche (which my Baba set up!). Though this may sound like a couple hours’ labour in my previous life and work ethic, it’s an honest weekend’s productivity in rural Zululand. That huge shift in efficiency was definitely something that needed some getting used to when I arrived. We’ve all heard of ‘Africa time’ and it really is a way of life – not all over Africa, by any means, but at least in the setting that I know. Living the pastoral Zulu culture has taught me to slow down and take my sweet time. I think this definitely has pros when considering the realms of personal growth and fully enjoying moments but perhaps cons as well when considering my eventual reintegration into my prior lifestyle. Depending on what I choose to do, I’m sure I will – in part – go back to running errands, making deadlines, and striving for more/better/faster, but I hope I’ll take the time to thank my cashier while making eye contact, stopping to watch birds fly as I rush to my next destination, and enjoying camaraderie in the evenings sans phone, TV, or computer screens. It’s pretty cool that I, and you, can choose how to live. If we don’t enjoy something about our lives we can (most likely) make a change. Maybe it’ll be a quick fix or maybe it’ll take some time, but the fact that we have autonomy over our lives is not something to be taken for granted or, perhaps most importantly, forgotten.
Humorously, I’m shifting from preaching about taking control of your life to an example of mine in which I caved. Just a couple days ago I reactivated my Facebook account. I’m not quite sure why, especially because I can only see so much of it on my phone, but I think it’s honestly because I missed ‘my people.’ This past week I enjoyed reconnecting with a few friends back home and I think I simply craved more of that…meaning that I can now stalk people and learn what’s new in their lives without them even knowing. In that aspect, Facebook is an interesting device. It almost disconnects people by connecting them. I say this because I’m now more likely to check someone’s wall, info, or photos to see their personal updates than I am to phone or pay them a real, live visit. When I deactivated my account, my profile was 90% complete (whatever that meant). Now that I’m back and website changes have been made, it claims to be 65% complete. Though I’m back online, I simply refuse to add my favourite sports teams, athletes, musicians, or first moments. No, no, screw the monitor-to-monitor connection; we can have a face-to-face conversation if you want to hear about the Braves or Citizen Cope 😉
Though this post has no real point, I think its goal was to pen my Saturday breakfast stream of consciousness. Accomplished, eh? From a chilly aqua hut in South Africa, with steaming coffee and steaming breath, I wish you a satisfying weekend and encourage you to slow down and make connections with people – even the mere cashier holding the occupation we’ve all probably endured in our lives. Enjoy being your own governor!