Among the dense green forest of Mt. Elgon, four Americans are guided by two armed Kenyan soldiers in full uniform. Their pleasant demeanor and patience contrasts their otherwise intimidating appearance.
The ride through the forest is breathtaking. Literally. I found my breathing getting shorter, more shallow than usual. Later, when we reached the elephant platform, we were looking over miles upon miles of the Rift Valley as it spans from province to province.
Isaac, one of our guides turns to us and smiles. His AK 41 rest casually over his shoulder, with one leg outstretched and the other bent supporting his elbow. “We say that in Africa, life is natural.”
I take a moment to absorb each word.
Last night I looked up at the stars, today I hiked to over 6000 ft. above sea level and saw Kenyan sprawled before me. The sounds of monkeys, cows, wild birds and some children playing in the distance. Both moments afforded me a unique opportunity to realize something: we all have a time to be small. Japanese monumental landscape painters rendered their natural lives as dwarfed by the crags and crevasses of the mountain ranges and the strokes of native trees darting into the sky. Once in a while I would look up at the moon, the stars, and imagine life on those surfaces, light years ahead of me. I remind myself that I am one person. I am one small fraction of this planet and spec in this universe. My fears, my insecurities, the uncertainties and complexities fade away, if only for that moment. I try to find the right moment to tear myself away from this meditative state, but cant, and always end up tearing away sooner than I’d like. I want to enjoy my time to be small.
In Kenya I’ve realized some things. Any time we think we are not good enough, we can find comfort in knowing that we are all part of the same system. We all make our own contribution. I may not be healing anyone, changing anyone’s life, or building someone a future, but I’m doing what I can to be part of the system of life. Anytime you think you aren’t good enough, remember that you are helping by virtue of just being here. Because in the end, love, home, and happiness cannot be measured by what’s around you, but by who’s around you.
So in those moments when you’ve lost your origin, and you cant find love, home, or happiness, look up, take a deep breath, and give yourself, some time to be small.