“Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” -Pozzo, Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
Time is a funny thing. A week can pass by in an instant and an instant can seem to take a week. In this rushed and busy city filled with rushed and busy people trying to keep one appointment before striding purposefully off to the next, time is always on the mind yet never considered.
There just never seems to be enough of it.
Last night a group of us went to see Samuel Beckett’s classic drama Waiting for Godot at The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone. Just as Beckett himself intended, the play encouraged me to stop – for two hours – and ponder time. Time and existence and sanity and boredom and human rights and striated society and companionship… But mostly time.
As I have felt overwhelmed by the speed of time’s passage these last few weeks, it was refreshing to be afforded a chance to pause and reflect.
“We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.” – Vladimir
Without a place of my own until this week, I have struggled to develop routine – that great structure to which I cling for calm and comfort – and yet I am grateful for the spontaneity that six weeks of wandering has offered. I am grateful for London theatre and friends who will invite me along. I am grateful to be in a rushed and busy city, but too, I am grateful for my flat that offers me a degree of sanity and security. I would hate to wait for Godot night after night after night.
“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” – Estragon
Posted in Current Events, La Vie Quotidienne
Tagged Beckett, England, Europe, Godot, life, London, play, quote, Samuel Beckett, theater, theatre, time, UK, Waiting for Godot
It must be said that however much I craved a faster pace of daily life whilst in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Lesotho, and even South Africa, London has far surpassed my expectations in the sheer speed of time. Despite a slow, frustrating beginning – as the housing search dragged on and on without success – each hour has shortened and my diary is suddenly filled with events, classes, meetings, and the incessant readings required by my course.
So although few were likely curious about my absence from the Menace these past several weeks, and even fewer truly concerned, I can announce that I am indeed alive and well. And I look forward to a return to relative normalcy on Sunday as I finally move to my own flat (no more couchsurfing!), re-start training for an upcoming 10K, and settle into life in London.
Time flies when you’re having fun, or so they say, but here it seems to fly by whether you’re paying attention or not. No fun-having required.
Posted in La Vie Quotidienne
Tagged Africa, equatorial guinea, Europe, fast, Ghana, lesotho, life, London, South Africa, speed, UK
Touching Tiny Lives tends to host a pretty international crowd, from a range of cross-border donors and visitors (Germany, Sweden, Gabon, etc.) to the rotating temporary staff, myself included. At present, the campus can boast of one restless American, one chipper Canadian, and a pint-sized, industrious Indian. From India.
Gargi Wable (pronounced wvah-blay, with that curious blend of V and W) is a Maharashtri by birth, a nutritionist by trade, and a perpetual student by choice. We’ve discovered a shared love of good cooking and of the same breed of reading material and hold likeminded opinions about those development operations we’ve discussed at length. Lofty and probing academic conversations had been absent from my life until the final minutes of May when Julie and Gargi arrived.
Her role at TTL for the two months of her stay involves tying up the many loose ends of the floundering UNICEF grant that Jenn began last year. With a strict timeline to follow, and no external duties of distraction, Gargi has made rapid progress. Her nutrition expertise has proven invaluable to grant implementation and to growing staff knowledge, and her unassuming presence has kept life on campus homelier than usual.
Rest assured, Julie and I have already made plans to visit Gargi in two years’ time when she has returned to Mumbai following her PhD studies in New York.
Posted in La Vie Quotidienne
Tagged Africa, Asia, campus, consultant, diet, health, help, Home, India, lesotho, life, nutrition, Touching Tiny Lives, TTL, Work
At some point in the future I’d like to spend one year devoted to philosophy – specifically, to the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
As chance would have it, Mokhotlong has established a book club featuring Jenn, two of the Mokhotlong-area Peace Corps Volunteers (Matt and Devin), and myself. First on the list: Zen.
I gave myself a full week to read this book. In light of events the week before, my mental state throughout the first chapter was a bit under par. The moment I caught up emotionally, I realized that a single week just wouldn’t cut it.
With each chapter I found myself pausing to reflect, to insert myself into the story and grapple with the concepts presented therein. I highlighted notable works and phrases at first, later critical examples that illustrated a point well, and finally entire passages that corroborated or contradicted my line of thinking. I added dozens of notes, especially when angered, but my first-edition Kindle makes note-taking difficult and a pen always seemed too far out of reach. I completed the book thrilled by the challenge of the story’s thesis and hungry for a re-read. The text demanded it.
Thus I propose to myself:
A one year project in which I take the book in sections. Reading, Reflecting. Writing. Reviewing. Reworking.
It seems like a luxury for which I will have little time to spare for due attention, but the book will be re-read someday regardless. I hope my scattered notes and highlights will reignite this desire for true contemplation…and make sense.
Posted in La Vie Quotidienne
Tagged Africa, book, club, lesotho, life, philosophy, read, reading, reflect, reflection, think, thought
How often do we truly disconnect from the busyness of the world to enjoy our friends, family, and cozy surroundings while on holiday? This is not a lecture on the need to part from the mobile for longer than 30 minutes. It is, however, a comment on my first Christmas away from all three of those familiarities.
Given my far-flung locale and my indifference to the zealous religiosity of this time of year, I was more than amenable to the proposition of a working holiday. And what better way to kick it off than a re-visit to the quiet retreat of Living Life?
Living Life is tucked into the dumpy little town of Ladybrand, South Africa – as different from its own surroundings as can be. I took a tour of the old rail town one morning to discover the appeal. There wasn’t any, really.
Which makes Living Life that much better.
Posted in La Vie Quotidienne, Travel
Tagged Africa, B&B, Bed and Breakfast, family, friends, fun, Holiday, Ladybrand, life, live, Living Life, rest, retreat, South Africa, time, Travel, Vacation, Work, working
For the next few months, I share a job, a living space, and all my personal health details with a Ms. Jenn Baker, who is as lovely as they come.
Jenn is an east coaster by birth and a wanderer by choice. She has been introducing me to all the best places to experience southern Africa.
A registered nurse, Jenn is also a retired Peace Corps Volunteer, who served in Swaziland from 2011 to 2012 and worked to improve rural health initiatives. Though she finished early, her travel was nowhere near complete and off to India she went to live in community where she found balance, friends, and a personal motivation. She returned then to Lesotho to begin work with TTL in May 2013 and has been my guide from day one.
She is interested in international maternal and child health, which makes her an asset to the TTL Team and a phenomenal resource as I ease into the new job. In August she will return to graduate school, likely Boston University, for her MPH.
Jenn is a runner and a reader and a yogi and a hiker and a natural foodie all rolled into five-foot-nothing.
It is so fun to share time and space with a woman of kindred spirit and I count myself quite fortunate. Now, reader, carry on with an increased appreciation for this marvelous lady.
Posted in La Vie Quotidienne, Lists, Travel
Tagged Africa, Asia, child, colleage, coworker, eat, food, health, India, lesotho, life, live, maternal, mother, PCV, Peace Corps, read, reading, roommate, run, running, service, share, Swaziland, Touching Tiny Lives, Travel, TTL, volunteer, Work, yoga