Who Am I?
Setting the stage: As I write this, the bank across the street has a DJ playing music for everyone outside. TGIF.
Things I gained this week: Perspective, Gratitude.
Things I lost this week: My sanity.
I have never had a week like this, ever. In my 22 years of life. Some may call it “adulting” although I would argue and say I have been acting like an adult since the age of 4. And consider all of these happenings/events in a place where you don’t really know people, the language, and the added harassment. Before this week had begun, I was feeling homesick for the first time since arriving in Uganda. I felt pretty lonely being on the other side of the Atlantic from everything that was familiar. Don’t get me wrong, I am still happy to be here and I feel genuinely lucky to have this experience, but this week was definitely a test of how bad I really wanted this life here. I will give you the SparkNotes version of this past week…
Sunday Evening: I went to shower and relax before the week ahead. It would be my first week by myself here. I was in the middle of shampooing my hair when the water slowed to a trickle. I hurried and rinsed my hair before it completely stopped and tried to figure out what had happened.
Monday Morning: I packed up the car ready to drive to the village with many stops on the way to pick up equipment. I went to start the car and… nothing. It wouldn’t start. With some help of a colleague, we got a mechanic to jumpstart the battery and take it to the garage. An hour and much harassment later, I was on the way to the village. On the way, I stopped to get the equipment and proceeded to fall down a hill in an attempt to get away from a drunk man.
Monday Evening: After a long, all-day meeting and many frustrations I was ready to boil water to take a bucket bath (the “shower” of the village house). I lit the flame on the stove only to have it shortly burn out because the propane tank was empty. In that moment I froze. No propane and no way to fill propane until I get back to town Thursday meant I had no way to boil water to drink, cook, or bathe. (The whole drinking and eating part was what I was more concerned with.)
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: I spent time in the field. With new farmer groups and old. Everything felt heavier and harder those three days. The harassment for being Mzungu (It means white person and is not the nicest word to use) got to me a little more than usual and the isolation made itself a little more known.
Thursday Afternoon: I am headed back to town, knowing I have no water at my apartment. I begin to make phone calls. After many back and forth’s, I got the water turned back on, but it wouldn’t work until this (Friday) morning. I was fine with that. It was back on and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was so eager to go to my weekly yoga class that evening. To feel normal and sane even for an hour. But the teacher could not make it, and just when I felt like my energy tank was completely empty I taught the class. I came home, exhausted, depleted. As I laid on my bed thinking of what I had to do next, the power went out. Which is a very normal thing and really doesn’t bother me, but that was the very last thing I could take this week. Laying in the dark, I call my mother and shed a couple tears I had been holding in all week. It felt good, a release I so desperately needed, and soon enough the lights came back on.
So, what was the point of telling you all of this? How was any of this solved?
3. Pulling up my big girl pants and handling my shi.. stuff.
When I didn’t know how I would get water or how I would cook my next meal, I came to the realization that many, many, many people all over the world live this reality EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Something I keep asking myself, and maybe it is something you can periodically ask yourself is, “Who I am?” I live a good life. A really good life, even on my most difficult and trying days. It is not that I am or was discounting my suffering or hardships, I felt all of that. But in those times, it is crucial to gain some perspective and appreciate what you do have.. not what you don’t. Bringing me to..
WOW. I have so much to be grateful for this week. Like the caretakers at the village house, an older Ugandan couple, helping me use a sigiri (a clay pot that you burn charcoal in and use like a burner on a stove). Despite not understanding each other one bit, they knew how to help me and continued to help me every single day I was there. Like my boda driver offering to pick me up any food that I might need and asking me if I was doing okay. Never discount the power in asking someone if they are okay when they aren’t. Like my colleague calling a reliable mechanic. Like Lidia, the caretaker in the village bringing me little bananas (my favorite). THE LITTLE THINGS, FOLKS. When I woke up this morning and my apartment had water, I was so happy. I heard the toilet running and I literally jumped with joy.
I had people help me when I felt the most alone. I also didn’t curl up in a ball and not do anything. Sure, did I do it for a solid 10 minutes? HECK YEAH, probably even longer. But at the end of the day my actions served me well. I embraced the crumbling around me, let it happen, and believed that I had the power to change my circumstances. And I did.
This isn’t technically yoga, but it is life. It is reality. And we practice yoga to help us get through life. The good, the bad, the really, really ugly. It is there to be our constant, our comfort. It teaches us to reflect, to gain perspective, to take the small wins and turn them into big ones.
Maybe you ask yourself, today, after a long week, “Who I am?” I hope you jump for joy because your toilet is running today. Or because you have a water cooler in your office. Or your mechanic speaks the same language as you. Or because you have people that love the heck out of you.
Keep on keepin’ on,