Talk about a black cloud with a silver lining. We are broke down, stranded in the middle of nowhere while traveling Africa in our old Land Rover. Interestingly, life is good and here in Tanzania, I may have discovered the secret to a happy life.
Several years ago, during a very unusual moment with my mother, she asked, “What drives you?” Now coming from my mother this was odd. This is a woman who has never showed much interest in my life. Rarely if ever asks anything about what’s going on with me or my family. So this question coming from her, really meant something. It’s a question I return to often. Somehow the answer never changes.
What drives me? I like to see if I simply can do things that seem difficult. I like challenges. Now, I’m not that much into physical challenges, more emotional and cognitive challenges. More pitting myself against myself.
As a child I learned to swim before I was two. I rode a bike by the age of four. As a ten year old I galloped my bony old horse bareback and ended up with a broken arm. I captained our field hockey team at 15. I left South Africa at 18 to live in Switzerland the land of my parents and ancestors. Okay, I’ve lived too long I better stop here.
Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.
~ Omar Khayyam
The point is, as I look back on my happy life, it’s the challenges that have grown me. As I write this, I’m sitting in our rooftop tent. It’s raining, really raining. We’re stranded! Stuck! We’re in the middle of nowhere in a little village in Tanzania.
Sitting here with tons of time to think I realize that’s why we’re on this crazy Overlanding adventure traveling Africa year after year. It’s the challenge, the stepping out of my comfort zone that drives me. Two years ago we wanted to make this same journey from South Africa north to Kenya and back. We didn’t for numerous reasons, one being I was chicken. The unknown. The malaria threat. The lack of access to the food I like. The lack of hot showers, flush toilets and such. The rough roads with few services should things go wrong (like now.) All these held me back.
Now that I’m in the midst of it all. That is, been through tons of amazing adventures and exhilarating experiences. Now that I’m sitting here not sure how we’re going to get out of this mess, I’m strangely at peace, life is good. My comfort level. My expectations have changed or adjusted and adapted.
For many our level of comfort would be very subpar. What we tolerate now as far as toilets and showers go? Right here our very helpful bush mechanic allows us to use his toilet. It’s of the squat variety with a dipper flush. To bathe you use a washcloth and dipper. (Dipper being a small bucket with a handle to scoop up water and dump it.)
As a retired person I could be home sitting on a porch somewhere. I could be living life vicariously by watching other people do exciting and adventurous things. However, it’s through the personal doing, experiencing that I grow. My outlook on life is constantly evolving. My compassion for others constantly growing. My understanding constantly expanding. My appreciation for God’s creation constantly magnifying. My gratitude for health and the simple things constantly building. My happy life blossoming.
In a nutshell, I think I may have discovered the secret of a happy life, at least for me… Life’s biggest opportunity is life itself.
Be Brave. Only Believe. Just Do.
Margrit Harris loves nature and wildlife pretty much above all else… that is except her spouse, Russ.