How many of you have recently had a morning like this? I was more than a little frustrated trying to get everything I needed for the day on the back of the 125 dirt bike that I was going to be using for my transportation. Can you imagine trying to get 5 meter sticks, 5 retort stands for the chemistry lab all with long metal poles and heavy metal bases, two soccer balls, and two hand balls all on the back of this dirt bike. I had the bases and balls in a plastic walmart like bag and everything else kind of hanging off the back using giant rubber bands to try and keep it all in place. (This may sound weird to you but it is fairly normal here) This strapping down was taking a while and I didn’t have a while, I was running late.
I was running late because there was no electricity in the house. This meant that the water for the instant coffee had taken longer to boil because I had to use the stove instead of the little hot water appliance. It also meant that the hot water coil for the shower did not work. This meant I had to either forgo the shower or take a cold one out of a bucket. I opted to forgo the shower and yet somehow I was still running late.
So I am finally in place on the bike with 5 meter sticks, 5 retort stands, two soccer balls, two hand balls, my backpack full of stuff for teaching, and 1 very important travel mug of coffee hanging off of the handle bars because for some reason a 125 dirt bike does not come with a cup holder. The road is probably going to bounce half my coffee out, but better half a cup of coffee than no coffee at all because it is already looking to be a long day…it was that kind of morning.
As I start up the bike to pull out and head to the school and Angel House I look up and see a man walking along with a big bag of charcoal on his head. And I stop. Because in an instant my self-pity, my feeling of being rushed, and yes even the sadness about losing half of my coffee go up in smoke just like this man’s charcoal will later, after he sells it. I have lived here in Tarime long enough now to know what this man’s morning was like. It probably started two hours before dawn in a little field with corn or sweet potatoes. He then took a cold bath, like he did every morning, power in town or not. A bath that came from water that his wife had to walk somewhere to get out of a hand dug well. He then put this big bag of charcoal on his head and headed to the market where he will sit all day waiting to sell it all for less than $10 only to go back home. I would guess that he would gladly spend 20 minutes trying to strap it on a motor bike if it would save him the hour walk to the market. Of course then he would also have to pay for gas and the profit margin would be too small to live on. And I realized some of my blessings. (I say some only because I am sure that even at this moment I do not understand all of them)
“I was sad because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet”
Count your blessings today and every day, because I promise they are there.