Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beauty... Lost in the crowd

As it turns out, Dar is not that difficult a place to live. Sure security is tight and work is insane, but to make up for it we have the UN Compound. Not only did I learn today that I can buy tonic water there, but even more importantly, they let us run around the perimeter of the compound, a half-mile lap. NGO people run clockwise, UN people run counter-clockwise. Wherever did that rule come from?

Allow me to try to capture the magnificence of running at the UN compound. Every day, my life is as follows: wake up in my little room, walk across the compound to use the latrines and sinks, walk to the other side of the compound to eat the breakfast prepared by the cooks, get in a car to drive me the 200 metres to the office, work in the office all day with a guard standing outside at the compound gate, find a car mid-day that can drive me the 200 metres to eat lunch in the compound, back to office, back to home and leftovers from lunch, enjoy a bit of TV or Internet, work from home. Sleep and repeat.

BUT... every other day, right before sunset, we pile into a car and drive the fifteen minutes to the UN compound. We may wade through soft yellow sand which sticks to our bodies, and we may tiptoe around the sewage of UN soldiers, but we run. We move and feel the wind on our face. We can see for miles in every direction around the compound - the hills to one side, the pristine setting of an enormous ball of fire to the other.

Sometimes, it's just me and one colleague. We don't take our iPods; instead, she slows down her run to pace with me as I try to keep up. We talk and chat about life, both work and not-work, and we watch the sunset together. It's lovely getting to know a lovely person.

Other times, we have company. Two days ago we were three. I took advantage of being a trio to break out on my own for a while, listening to my music and running in solitude. Today, there were six of us. The moment we hit the sand, I was on my own. It's ironic how the larger the group, the more alone I become.

As I was running today, enjoying the company of one, I thought about how I was avoiding my companions. This was one of those rare social settings in which it was ok, and so I did it. Losing myself into the crowd, I felt it's wrong to pull into my shell, but I also felt like the sun and the wind and the sand and the adrenaline and the solitude are healing my soul, one step at a time.

9 comments:

That Crazy Family said...

I understand, I too often find myself pulling into my shell at times. Jokingly wallflower became my chosen nickname when in large groups, I think I will always prefer the smaller more intimate atmosphere. Beautiful writing!

Leslie said...

This was an interesting look into your day, and you did a good job describing it. And I agree that solitude can be healing, sometimes.

Brian Miller said...

thanks for sharing your day with us...solitude and community are both important parts of our lives...we can not deny either of them their place...

Claudia said...

sometimes we just need to lose ourselves in the crowd..i think that's important
i have silent shell days as well - and after a while i enjoy the relationships even more

gospelwriter said...

Such a lovely write, this, and so interesting too, to read about the day-to-day of people living in foreign settings. It does seem selfish, sometimes, to take time out for ourselves when there are other people around, but perhaps that is exactly what is needed for us to be the loving and giving people we are. Thank you for this...

patty said...

absolutely~i ran yesterday for the first time in a year, and it felt great. today, i'm too sore to attempt again, but i've already laid out clothes for tomorrow. i appreciate more the freedom and diverse locations i have here to run... though, by your post, maybe it's not the view you are after. be safe.

emily wierenga said...

wow girl... i love this peak into your life... and i wish i could run with you, although, i too love running on my own... losing myself in the fields and the sun and the trees. for me, it's prayers-pounding-pavement. i find sanctuary in the asphalt. i don't know that it's wrong to want to spend some alone time with God... and i love that you shared this with us. love you. e.

alittlebitograce said...

allow me to join with the others in enjoying learning about your daily routine. your words remind me of how much i love running and why i miss it so. may you continue to find moments of peace.

HisFireFly said...

I'm so glad to have met you.. thanks for stopping by my place! And your name.. divine inspiration indeed. I'm a born, raised, lived most of my life in the States now Canadian.. but my heart is in Uganda as well as Brasil (where I've never been, but had many amigos Brasilieros some years back, and used to say Eu seu Americana mas en meu coracao eu seu Brasiliera) but I know that none of these places is truly home.. for that home yet awaits us.

Post a Comment