June 17th 2003
Hi Everyone,This email does not have to do a lot with Lesotho directly but because of the fact that I am about on the other side of the world as America and have to often put up with a lot of things that are annoyances or not favorable this email has a lot to do with Lesotho. So it deals with just the idea of in some ways having things rougher than what a person would want and being able to overcome it.
Some many years ago I was doing the dishes at a restaurant getting paid minimum wage and I hated it. I could not help but think that if I had enough money I would be willing to pay someone else even more than what I was being paid to wash the dishes, if I only had the money! Some years later but still some years back I was again doing the dishes. I had cooked diner at the house and needed to do the dishes. Now I remind you that this meant only rinsing the dishes off and sticking them in the dishwasher but still I hated it. That is when I had a personal epiphany. Maybe it is common sense to most people but it is one of those things that was not ever too clear to me. The dishes basically had to be done and I should probably just get over it. The dishes were and are like so many things in this life. They are a hassle, something I don’t like to do but manage because somehow it is going to make things easier in the long run. If it didn’t make things easier in the long run I definitely would not be doing it. I started thinking about just how many of the things I do in the day and found that quite a significant portion of the things I do are fitting into this category. My next step after I realized that much of life fit into this suffering/have to do/hassle category was to realize that I could over come it. My ways I do this are different at times, sometimes I turn it over to a higher power, sometimes I seem to only need to accept that the situation is not ideal. By doing this I am not fighting but accepting the situation and by accepting the situation I get some kind of control over it. I then instead of with something like washing the dishes am not like “this sucks” but get to notice how warm the water fills on my hands and the smooth and rough textures of the different dishes. It might sound silly but there are some pleasurable things about doing the dishes. This for me though seems to mainly come into focus though after I have gotten over the fact that I really don’t like doing the dishes. So what I am trying to say is something like by accepting my difficulties it makes them in a way easier to deal with in a way. Then by making the most of what is left as long as there is something left over to find fun in I can have fun. This is an origin of my saying that I am sure you all have read by now of ignore the ignorable and enjoy the enjoyable. It was a nice little way for me back then and now to remember this idea I had a long time ago that struck me so wonderful and seem to clear up a lot of problems in my life.
This philosophy time and time again has proved successful for me in the last five years except once. I recently got sick. I feel like most people when they come to third world Africa for Peace Corps more or less expect to get sick. I am fine now but for three days I had been sick. The first and the third day were not much more worse than a bad cold but the second day was not so nice. At one point my temperature was 103 far above my regular 97.2. At another point I was wearing my insulted overalls in my sleeping bag rated for fifteen degrees with two blankets over the bag shivering and shaking for thirty minutes because I was cold. This also with lots of trips to the bathroom. One day of this kind of sickness was enough for me. I am not sure what it was that got me sick. Maybe the flue or food poison or something else but I just could not effectively ignore the ignorable and enjoy the enjoyable. Everything seemed bad. A one point of some kind of relief came from turning it over to my higher power. Things were still bad but somehow not as bad after doing so.
This was one of the first negative experiences that has made me feel being away from the land that I came from. There is of course good medical staff with Peace Corps that came by to see me and I have neighbors here that could help me if I am really bad off but there was no one to take care of me. I was sick and I was alone and it was not too fun. It has been over six years since I had been that sick but before I felt like there was always someone there where as here I felt like I was alone.
Not only has it made me feel Africa in a different way it also made me reevaluate one of my philosophical statements. I, when on an overcrowded taxi with someone’s butt literally six inches in front of my face and someone next to me that won’t roll down the window even though it is 90 degrees outside, or when walking for an hour to get to my friends house and it starts to rain, or getting my food cold, or when on a regular basis have to deal with outages of either water, electricity, or phone will still probably use my old philosophy but now I know that it does not work all the time for all people in all cases and am trying to figure out a new one. I thought that last one was pretty good, I am not sure if I am going to be able to beat it but I am going to try. Anyone have a suggestion? Love ya’ll, Jeff PS. I am attaching a picture of me the day I got better just for the fun of it!