And in awaiting you, we have gone searching and seeking…
To the mountains of faraway lands and to the oceans and their foreign sands.
To the desert and the scorching sun and to Ali and his beloved son.
We have walked, pining, both by light and by night.
We seek you not through the eye but from the heart. We seek you before our end, despite your presence from the start.
And in this search, we look for a sign, and turn our gaze to the night skies. To the moon that shines so bright lighting up this blessed night.
And thus, we find our sign, and hear the night’s song and so, for you, we shall continue to long.
Don’t let a few grey clouds blur your perspective
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”
– Pico Iyer
Every three weeks or so , I try to take a day trip outside of my city. Whether it is half an hour away or two hours away. I do so to gain some perspective. Being a University student in a small city is sometimes very consuming. Leaving the city always gives me a bigger picture, allows me to see that which I cannot see when I am staring right at it.
My most recent trip was to Cambridge. I thought going to a place of such prestige and checking out the University would grant me some inspiration. Ironically enough, my favourite part of the day consisted of walking through the market. I saw fresh fruits, vegetables, little creative trinkets with inspirational quotes on them and then stumbled upon a second-hand book stall. Looking through the books, I searched for something inspiring, compassionate and spiritual – my genre for quite a bit now. Mind Body Soul. Searching for inspiration, motivation , I asked the owner if he had the Alchemist. He looked for it but didn’t find it and said that it wasn’t in the section he usually kept it in. I asked him to refer me to the section. Upon reaching there, my fingers walked through the books and I spotted Eckhart Tolle’s, ” A New Earth”. A book referred to me almost two years ago which I had tried to read. But sometimes books, they don’t flow in your being, don’t sync with your consciousness until you’re really ready for them.
I just started reading the book but its resonated with me quite beautifully. It speaks of this idea of “I” and becoming consumed with our own labels. Letting our own labels of ourselves not only restrict us but restrict our understanding of the world because we put everything into such distinct boxes and label them accordingly. As I sat at lunch and drank my cup of tea, I took a minute to stop my thinking, and looked around to look at the people who surrounded me in the room. They were all people but really , they were forces within each body. A force or an energy that I would not say is restricted by age but a living energy and that room was buzzing with everyone’s different energies. Whether it was the couple who sat next to me and hardly said anything to each other, to the two elderly beautifully-dressed talkative women who sat on my right. Then and there, I was hit with the thought that I, too was a force, an energy and had started to identify with the person I had become over the past few years. That which breaks this identification with the I is generally some kind of paradigm change brought about by a sudden change in one’s life however we could dis-identify from the I once we became aware of it… I’m only in the first chapter of the book but felt this idea to be somewhat of a revelation that I wanted to share. It’s worth taking a day out once in a while to gain some perspective.
Leaving that meal I felt like a different person but realized how much I identified with the me and how we look for assurance in other people’s view of who we are and try to fit into that category of who they think we are. But there’s a realization in the fact that people change, we change. Respect how you feel. Always.
This year has definitely taught me a lot. Traveling around taught me a lot. There were a lot of hellos and unfortunately just as many goodbyes.As I got ready for my trip back to Canada, a sense of relief did overcome me. Not because I was coming to Canada so to say but because it would be a while before I would have to say Goodbye again.
This last year has brought so much to my life. I have been so blessed with the people I’ve met who come from all walks of life. From the Ocean-Farmers in Zanzibar, to my neighbors in Kibaha, to the guides on Kili. Every person has added one extra thing to my life. They’ve opened doors to worlds I never knew of. While all of this was exciting and fun , my year was also full of goodbyes. When I left Tanzania, there was a goodbye. When I left Congo, there were goodbyes. When I left the Middle East, there were goodbyes and when I left South Africa, there were goodbyes.
When I left Tanzania , I remember picking up some corn on the cob from the local market and a local drink and just sitting at the entrance of the campus and just taking in that last day. Simply, switching off my brain and feeling. In the Congo, I sat with my friend on a trampoline and gazed upon the stars. If only we could spend everyday just appreciating for a little bit ..
Even though goodbyes are hard, there is something so beautiful about a looming goodbye. And that’s making the most of every moment with those people. We are told to live each day like it’s our last – because one day it will be but it is so difficult to put that into practice. Yet, the nature of my trips..and possibly my personality (spontaneous) made me make the most of every moment I had with those people. Sometimes I would just stop and absorb the moment..not get so caught up in the small things but just be there because in a month – I really didn’t know if I would still be there. And in life, you don’t really know if you’ll be here in a month so try treat it like a vacation where you’re blessed with everything you have and you really don’t know when it will be taken away from you..Today it doesn’t seem like enough …tomorrow it will seem like more than enough..
I’ve come back with a new eye for everything. I am more aware of the difference in the two societies that I’ve come from but at the same time I believe I appreciate the people in my life more. Every person is so important to me now because I know a life without them and it’s a blessing to have them around.
I read a quote the other day, ” Enjoy what you have before it’s taken away from you and you appreciate what you had”. Make the most of every moment. Live as if there is a looming goodbye.
2 Months ago I finished climbing the mighty Kilimanjaro. At first all I could remember was how hard it was .. Now ..I can finally romanticize about it.:)
The top of the mountain or what seemed like the top that would only come out in the early morning and in the middle of the night. It was also a symbol of hope – a reminder of our end objective. Like how they say it’s good to visualize where you want to be – it helps you get through the struggle of getting there.
The morning sun from our camps. It always served to give us that renewed energy to conquer a new day.
When hiking and looking around you all you saw was the rest of the mountain. Larger than life.
Steepness in all its glory 🙂
Being able to see Mt Meru in the distance from Kili
Literally being above the clouds..unimaginable.
🙂 Being amongst the clouds…
To get to this spot I ventured a little bit past the camps where nobody else was and sat here for a while..just me and nature and not struggling to breathe. Trying to take in this moment right here.
The Snow-capped Peaks of Kili
I remember looking back at the sun and letting it warm me up and giving me strength to finish off the remaining part of this amazing journey. I think taking strength from the beauty that surrounded me was essential in getting me to the top.
Making our way down from the top and realizing that anything was possible with hope, patience and determination.
I went with an amazing company called safari BIG 5. If you are ever interested in making a trek of a lifetime , their website is http://www.safaribig5.com. Make sure you check them out.
I must admit that when I first came to the DRC from Tanzania – my heart wasn’t here. It was difficult to be in a car with little kids knocking at my window and not knowing how to react. Suddenly I felt above them. In Tanzania I was walking on the streets and there was no clear indication that I was even in a position to have a car. It was hard because in Tanzania I was constantly surrounded by people who were changing the world day by day ( I felt) and we saw direct results in the sense that you had an orphan at the school whose full fees was paid and got to eat, drink and sleep comfortably for at least 9 months.
Here I started to get involved with the local charity twice a week but also wanted to work because at the end of the day – you need to support yourself. It’s nice to think you can go and volunteer your whole life or just travel the world but you need to have the money to travel and it’s nice to earn your own money. It was tough to work at first -not because of the work hours or anything but just not feeling like I was making that difference. That high that I got every day in Kibaha was no longer there.
As time went on though and I started to understand how business worked in Congo I saw the difference that was being made by people who invested in this country.People need jobs here – there is no doubt about that. 10 million people live in Kinshasa.
If a Multi-national ( Coca Cola, Vodacom(phone service provider), Airtel(phone service provider) comes to
this country or someone even brings in an international product – they provide the infrastructure (factories) and advertising costs that people here don’t always have the money for.After that, people get employed directly into the company so that it operates properly. There are those who work in the factories, then the truck drivers who deliver the product and then there are even the shop managers who sell the product wholesale.These are just the people who are directly employed by the company. Then the people it affects indirectly – If it’s Vodacom or Airtel for example, there are the street vendors who sell recharge vouchers on the road. That is their income for a day that helps feed their families. In essence anyone can go buy those vouchers, or crates of Coca Cola and sell them on the street and therefore finding a way to earn a decent income.Then there is even the customer who benefits- if it’s a good product you’re allowing them to be able to experience an international product and if it provides competition to other companies – means they get more value for their money.
Being part of this – You are constantly meeting clients to see if they are facing any problems you can help with and how to increase their sales. I’ve watched people who just buy not that much of a product to making this product their main selling item. The other day I met one of these clients who went from just selling things on the street to saving and then getting his own shop and now he has 5 shops that sell a variety of things. He met me for the first time and welcomed me into this area of work and he said to me in French – “We have to help each other because without you – our business will not survive and without people like me your business will not survive.” And it was absolutely true. We are a team.
I never realized how many people can be affected though. Even when one of my friends came to work for his dad one of the workers from the company (who maintained quite a low rank – he cleaned the office everyday ) said to him, ” I’m so glad you are done your studies and you have come to work and help maintain this company . After all We have kids too and need to support them to make sure they go to school so we need these jobs.” I smiled.Every person mattered and every person is affected. Every person you employ is that starfish you throw back into the Ocean.
At the end of the day anyone can come and approach a company and ask if they can sell their product. They don’t need to buy a whole bunch just enough for them to be able to sell and get enough money to bring home. Like this anyone can really learn to support themselves in a sustainable manner. This is the “teaching the man to fish” way vs “giving a man a fish.”
By also being part of a company everyone has an opportunity to rise in the ranks and learn different things. For example one of the factory workers may show potential and then he is put in charge of a shop where he starts doing accounting and selling the product. Papa Theo (we say Papa as a sign of respect) ,who was my driver as a kid, got a bit older, and now he works in an air conditioned office taking stock. There is always room for growth.
There are different aspects to development. Different ways to help it happen. Business is a great way to make things happen. You give that father a means to send his kids to school without feeling like he got anything for free. If you sponsor a kid that’s nice but then they are dependent on that for the next year..it’s not always that sustainable.
Every person in society matters and contributes to the economy and the only way to Grow is to do it TOGETHER.