I was talking to Mesechu, yesterday. He lives in the same house as me along with his lover, Bina, and their three month old, Ellie. He was born and lived much of his childhood in Dar e Salaam in Tanzania. We were discussing the differences between Kenya and Tanzania. We talked about how doing his business in Dar es Salaam was much more difficult. The pace of life was just slower. He told me that people would show up for work on the first day and then be done for the week. I mean if the money you would make in that day could last you the whole week then why would you continue working? So people wouldn’t. I found that fascinating. The emphasis placed on accumulating wealth was so marginal. It held the same level of importance as, say, putting on socks. Of course it had to be done, but one did not shape their life around it.
To me it indicated the mindset of a culture. Cultures, like people, vary greatly in their relationship to time. As Mesechu continued to reflect on Kenya he said something along the lines of, “I don’t know about Nairobi, things just move too fast here.” This was beautiful. For the past 3 weeks, all I have heard is complaints by the Westerners that surround me on how slow things move here. To have someone enter from the other end of the frame, forced me to reevealuate the entire vista. This sort of sudden shift in perspective is the hallmark of travelling. It left me to confront one new thought after another. What pace of life should I live at, then?
Living and working in America, I felt like I was running a marathon. But what is more curious is that I didn’t even realize I was racing until I came here. Here, the track lanes that I was chasing so mindlessly were quickly covered in sand. This slowed me considerably; my feet flailed as the sand became deeper and I could no longer see the asphalt with it’s painted lines directing me where to go. I looked around me; there was just the relentless sun and endless dunes. An oasis appeared in the distance. I followed it. Around the spring lay Sirens in flowing cloth. They lay in hammocks laced between palm trees. They were adorned in brass and gold that patterned with their skin and their temperament. I stood their, feet in the sand, still breathing heavily. They brought for me water. I watched them and all of their eyes. They smoked shisha and spoke pretty words. I collapsed into a world of pillows and skin and smoke. All of a sudden the need to assure security for my future seemed like a distant dream. Where was I heading to in such a hurry? Why not study these clouds for a moment and exchange glances with these strangers who felt like home?
I visited the elephant orphange the other day. They were toddlers ranging from 2-4 years old. The entire crowd was basking in their youth and innocence. They did not have their mothers and fathers. They were happy, still. They played in the mud in a way that left me envious. I wanted to be in the mud with them. I wanted to jump and splash and play in the clay under the baking sun. The elphants are dying. They’re being slaughtered for their tusks and their habitats destroyed by human overpopulation. They will be extinct soon. I want to kiss them as we roll around in the mud bath. I wanted to tell them how sorry I was for the way things are.
I read an article on a fishing revolution that is happening on the east coast of the United States. As climate change destroyed the livelihoods of these fisherman, they sought out a new relationship to not only the ocean but to their position within the global economy. They wish to become agriculaturalists of the ocean, growing seafood in a sustainable way that promotes a diverse ecology in the oceans. Their aim was to create an open source environment that reduced the cost of becoming a farmer. By taking advantage of the plethora of unexplored plantlife that exists in the oceans, they hope to foster a sustainable system that created benefits both for society and the Oceans. Imagine, the author writes, discovering the likes of corn, arugula, and basil for the first time. By cultivating this plantlife in these underwater farms, we create the ecosystem that allows species higher up in the foodchain (think fish and molluscs) to grow and thrive. One of the many solutions that is required to fce the volatilty of a world that is faced with climate change.