Whether I'm trying my best to not fall off an Icelandic glacier, or standing in an ice-cold stream in Austria, or watching a lioness snack on a zebra on the African plains, or (more often) just sitting at my desk overhearing 16-year-old girl gossip, every day's a holly-day for me.

Monday, July 12, 2010


To them, sacrifice is 3 day ground instead of overnight air shipping for their 50 inch HDTV." - Christopher Buckley, Boomsday

It's kind of surreal to think about what I was doing at this time two or three weeks ago. It's hard for me to believe that I was in Tanzania looking at a waterfall or a Maasai warrior or a lion eating a zebra and now I'm lying on my high thread count sheets, typing on a laptop under an AC vent AND a ceiling fan, listening to music that is coming from my computer and being wirelessly routed to various parts of my house.

I bought an avocado today and lamented the ones we ate in Tanzania. Then it struck me that as I was becoming annoyed at paying a dollar for an unripe, tiny avocado, a family in Africa could be eating for an entire day with that dollar. As I spent several minutes deciding exactly what kind of honey -maple -spice-smoked-basted-glazed- turkey I was going to get at the deli, I thought about Rose, who told us that she and her family eat meat only once or twice a month. I wouldn't say I've experienced culture shock since my return, as some people do, but I definitely have moments like these today where I feel a tinge of guilt about how ridiculously convenient our lives are. I've also realized that with those conveniences come complications. I came home and marveled at how wonderful air conditioning is. Then I paid $1800 to get mine fixed. I thought about how easy our lives are because of technology, and how miraculous it is that I can drive down the street and talk on a phone that's smaller than my hand. Then I got my phone bill from my Africa trip. Ooooppps! I spent $70 on a new pair of Nikes and felt guilty that I can drop that amount of money in ten minutes when it would take weeks, if not months, for a laborer in Tanzania to earn that.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that there are places in our world that are SO VASTLY different than the US and that we can get to those places in 24 hours, spend some time there, and then bee-bop back on a plane and be back in our safe, clean, little world in another 24 hours, ready to show everyone the 4000 photos we took with our $1500 cameras. The paradox of it all is that we spend so much time and money making our lives move more quickly, making things easier for ourselves, making life more convenient with our cell phones and remotes and laptops and iPads and drive through banking and online shopping, that we don't even realize that we're actually complicating things way more than we need to. Life is definitely harder in Tanzania according to our definition of "hard," but it's also much more relaxed and less complicated. They definitely understand what's really important in life much more than 98% of Americans do. And, yes, I include myself in that 98%. I'm not quite sure who has the right idea. I am extremely and eternally grateful to live in this country, and trips like this make me realize what a privileged life I lead, certainly not because I am any more deserving of this life than Rose or Dominique or Killerai, but simply because I was fortunate enough to be born here. But I wonder, am I really any happier?

No comments:

Post a Comment