Friday, January 19, 2007

Musings on the Road back to Kampala

We’ve just returned from Bujagali falls and I had the long drive home to think with just music in my ears, the wind in my hair, and husband by my side as the sugar cane, papyrus and goats whizzed by. I only hope that this little bit of writing will be as eloquent as my thoughts seemed to be as we drove along.

It is strange how you can become familiar with a place, you know that the road runs this way, there is a little restaurant stop there, a pretty jasmine tree just here, and your favorite chair is there by that window where the sun comes softly in around four o’clock. You get settled in the rhythms of the place. Then one day you pack up your shirts and shoes and pictures and cat and get in the car and drive past the jasmine tree and never lay eyes on that place ever again. But you still see it in your mind, and you wonder how the place seems to other people, if it looks to them as it looked to you.

I seem to get along better with people who are older than I am, as if I am living my life ten years ahead of where I ought to be. Getting married so young and abandoning the idea of a nine to five job right away, just traveling around looking for the life I could spend my life living. It is a difficult task, actually, because most lives are easy to romanticize from the perspective of a day or a week.

In Bujagali Falls, there are all these kayakers. They have deep tans, and long ratty hair and incredible bodies from day after day spent on the river. They live very humbly, almost like monks. Just a little tent to sleep in and a little money for food. But, in another sense, they have chosen a truly decadent lifestyle. They are sacrificing everything in pursuit of entertainment, of fun, of pleasure. People have died kayaking the Nile. It is serious, serious luxury. For them, pleasure is a moment, the exhilaration of finding a great bit of water, and riding it really well. It is the idea of completely surrendering yourself to something larger and more powerful than you are, even if only for a few moments. You have to practice remaining calm when chaos engulfs you and you are pulled into an undertow that could destroy you. It seems like an incredible lesson to learn from a river.

Real joy only lasts for a few moments. It comes on you in a little surge, and hopefully you have the presence of mind to seize that feeling and think “Yes, yes, right now. Right now I feel joy.” It only lasts a moment, and the knowledge that is has come and gone fills you with an ache, but it is incredibly beautiful.

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