Don’t sweat the small stuff—a lesson from Kenya
I just returned from an amazing month in Kenya. It takes some time for my brain and body to transition. It is not just the 9-hour time difference or the changing of continents and hemispheres—it is the changing of culture and pace of life that needs a bit of a transition.
We just move so fast on this side of the world and since I am naturally impatient I usually appreciate this fact. However, being totally unplugged for a month does wonders for me. Being in a village that you can only reach on 45 minutes of dirt roads coming from any direction and staying at a place with no electricity and no running water helps to remind me what is important in life.
What I mean by that is, here in the US, we are so spoiled with so many things and infrastructure is one of them. Do not get me wrong, I love my shower, my refrigerator, my television, my computer, my internet, Netflix, and most of all using my toilet inside my house. However having these things at my fingertips on a constant basis makes me take them for granted. Being grateful for everything is very important, but that is not the biggest issue here. I find that we here in the US tend to lose our minds over any one of these things breaking or not being available even temporarily. We grunt, groan, and curse wondering how we could be so unlucky for this to happen “today of all days”. I say this because I do the same thing. We think we have some control over pipes breaking or lines being down or fill in the blank…
In Sirembe village in Kenya you just roll with it. What else can you do? If it rains too hard, there is too much mud and you just can’t go anywhere, period. You wait until the road dries and then carry on. If that makes you 3 hours late to a meeting, they will understand. If the water being piped near you has a malfunction that takes 4 months to get money to fix, then you just deal with it, you find another way. If your car breaks down on a village road and it takes 4 or 5 hours to fix and there is no where to go you just have to be patient and wait. If you go to the bank on a busy day and you have to wait 5 hours, you just do.
People there do not complain about things like this, this is just life. Having spent years of my life in Kenya at this point, I have dealt with all of these things and just learned to be patient. I mean you can get upset, but it doesn’t change anything. It just makes it worse because now you are stressed for no reason.
We here in the US should take some lessons from this. While I am so thankful, as we all should be, that essentially having a great infrastructure makes many of these things much easier for us. That even when there is a malfunction it is usually fixed immediately. I think we would all be a lot less stressed if we gave up the illusion that we have control over any of it. I know it feels like we do when things are running smoothly—but that is not reality. Things will change and things will malfunction, both big and small. If we can really just appreciate what we have and just accept the bumps in the road we would be much happier for it.
All of these things make life easier, but they are not necessary and they are not what you need to live a happy and fulfilling life. They are the small things. So let’s be grateful for them, but also see them for what they are—the small stuff. Life is easier because of them, but not richer. So just do what you can and the rest will work itself out. Practice gratitude, relax with what is and just roll with it—it will all work out.