Wednesday, September 18

5 Great (or at least good) Things About Africa

Let's face it, the developing world is called that for a reason.  At various moments of the day one can find a dozen things about which to gripe: too much dust, too much pollution, drivers that make Bostonians look like angels, soy milk that costs $5 a box, massive poverty immediately next door to mansions, I really could go on and on.

So, instead, I thought that once a week or so, I would talk about things here that are good, even great.  An old friend from law school once told me "Perception is Reality."  At first this concept did not sit well with me at all!  I was a first year law student, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the injustices of the world.  I knew "right" from "wrong," and "fair" from "unfair."  I knew only my own reality and it was so, well, real

Now I know that 10 witnesses to the same incident will tell 10 very different stories, and each will believe that his own is the only true one.  I know that our minds have a way of distorting information at the moment it is observed.  And, in the act of viewing the world about us, and the people in it, our minds are telling us things that may, or may not, be true. 

So, by changing what I focus on, I can change much about my own reality.  I can go from griping, to being curious.  I can go from uncomfortable, to grateful.  And I can go from closed-minded, to being really blown away. 

Philosophy aside, here are 5 good things about Africa:

(1) Pantyhose is nonexistent. 
     How often as a prosecutor in Seattle did I gripe while getting dressed in the morning, struggle throughout the day, and desperately tear off at night this dreaded piece of attire! 

(2) It is not cold. 
     Well, yeah. We are currently about 6 degrees in latitude south of the equator.  It gets light at 6am and dark at 6pm, and it is tank-top weather 24 hours a day.

(3) iTunes works here. 
     This may be more of a comment on the internet in general, rather than Apple in particular, but it comes as a nice comfort that Karl and I have been able to rent and download three movies since we've been here. We even purchased one of our all-time favorites, The Hunt for Red October, which I will probably watch at least once a month until I am able to recite the entire movie. 

(4) You can ride in a personal "taxi" called a tuk-tuk and be taken to the doorstep of your destination for about the price of riding the bus in Seattle. 
     While it often involves a maniac young man driving like he is playing a video game, and the exhaust from other vehicles is not great (it isn't nearly as bad as India), these are a handy and convenient way to get around the city.  Karl even took one with Carrie and Robert (Carrie was safely tucked inside her traveling bag) to meet me for a romp at the beach.

(5) I am quickly discovering that the United States is not, in fact, the center of the universe.
      We who grew up in the US take for granted a wide variety of things like property ownership, currency in denominations larger than $6, balanced nutrition with lots of choices in foods, generally terrific air quality, being able to drive 200 miles in 3 hours (here this kind of distance would necessitate a flight!), and many, many more.  While this might seem to be a negative comment on Africa, it is a very positive comment on my development as a person.  A broader perspective is exactly what this post is about, and Africa is bringing me exactly this.

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