Isn’t it funny that hindsight only comes after we fully commit to something, once we fully live it and do it?
I think some people call it fate.
That when all these little decisions and small choices we make everyday somehow led you to this moment, in this place, reading this. That all these choices compounded over time, so seemingly insignificant then, effects us in ways we can never predict- until we’re where we are right now, looking back.
Because you never know the biggest day of you life is the biggest day.
I never realized it then, but I was staring it in the eye, patiently waiting for me the second I stepped off the plane in Tanzania. It smacked me in the face, taking the form of wanderlust.
I wanted more of this. More of how my legs stuck to the hot, worn leather seats, leaving faint sweat marks like my own personal ‘I was here’ sign as the sun heated the inside of the packed van. For two hours we drove along the rugged road, bumping along as the tires followed the potholes and dips in the land stretching out before us.
It was culture shock. I was so disoriented in the bliss of what I was seeing.
As the van whirled by the overgrown grass fields, their untamed strands dancing untouched by the destructive hands of mankind. Someone had to have turned up the colour saturation here, the boring green I was so accustomed to on my walls at home no longer seemed boring here. It seemed brighter, the green fresher on the unruly trees, as their leaves flew in the wind.
Was I flying too?
If I was, it was on cloud nine. The jostle of the van making a sharp turn gently smacked my pressed face further into the glass of window. Maybe it seemed gentle because I didn’t care, I was too busy watching the erratic vans zip by, bodies piled in even more compact than our squished van.
Smiling faces waved back at us eagerly as we stopped for passing traffic, the people sitting oh-so casually on the roofs, mingled in with overstuffed duffel bags clinging for dear life. The breaks between the barrelling vans gave glimpses of rural towns whooshing by, giving me a seductive peek into the lives of people, feeling a slight sadness they’ll never get to experience their home for the first time. To be overcome and completely and utterly in awe of something so new.
I wished the windows would go down to smell the corn cooking, but the rusty metal frame wasn’t going to budge. Small children danced around their mothers, tugging on each other’s arms, their little bodies buzzing with excitement. They darted through the lines of locals eagerly chatting, ducking and weaving amongst the sea of elbows and waists effortlessly.
Without my notice, the untouched land had transformed into the bustling city of Arusha. The painted cement shops were covered by sheets of metal, patching the holes that had formed over time, reminding me of my grandmothers sewing job covering the hole in my jeans where they had protected my knees from scrapes. Lining the road, women set up fires, roasting fresh corn for sale. I watched the small gas stations pass by their retro signs unreadable to me, but yet still speaking to me.
The vocal brakes screeched in complaint as we lurched to a stop, feeling the road skipping under the tires, finally catching the hot tar. Abrupt, it shook me out of my dazed state to the windshield in front. I felt the slight panic as I took the time to wonder, ‘is there an accident?’. It would’ve been a mess of feathers I suddenly realize as the narrowly avoided collision was more chicken than machine.
I was suddenly back in that place again, laughing inside at the stark difference between home. I mean, we dodged chickens, and I was never more excited. I felt like I was home again sitting on the couch, watching Planet Earth, thinking to myself ‘Does it really look like this?‘, because I couldn’t fully comprehend that the beauty I was watching is reality.
It was the change here that hooked me, the newfound culture. It was like I rediscovered Africa with my own eyes, completely different from the imagines I’d spent years drooling over.
We never know when something changes us, it sneaks up from behind. It’s an event that gives us a whole new way of looking at the world- it gives us hope.
It’s like we spend our lives drawing these lines in the sand, imaginary boundaries that we keep ourselves from crossing. But what I’ve learned is that you can spend your life drawing these lines, or you can choose to spend it crossing them.