Sometimes the universe is with you

Motivation is not always easy to find.  In my case, I had a big idea rambling around in my head, waiting to be put into action.  I sat on it for a while, wondering if it’d stick with me and prove itself legitimate, not just a passing thrill that I got excited about after a couple of beers.  It did, but still, I wasn’t acting.

Fresh off the plane from a visit to the States, where I spent time with friends and family, the number one thing I miss about life in Namibia, I was in a bit of a low this week.  Returning to a country where, besides my man and our animals, I’m pretty much on my own, can be disheartening.  However, I tried to light a fire under my butt, saying, “Look, you’re not going to live in Namibia forever.  Make the best of it while you’re here, and then when the time comes to move on, you’ll know the years weren’t wasted.”  And so, I gradually pumped myself up for the year ahead and tackling my big idea.  Although I was still half-exhausted from the long, nearly-sleepless flight, I stuck with the mantra “make the best of it” and pushed forward.

But as the first days slipped by and the load of farm work waiting for me quashed any productivity I had for my personal plans, I began wondering if I’d dreamt too big.  Thoughts like, “you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re gonna screw it up”, and, “stick with the projects you’ve got, and maybe later you can start something new when you have more time”, totally deflated my let’s-go attitude.  And even the current projects, like writing a blog post, seemed monumental.

But this morning I knew I had to post something, I’d neglected it the whole time in the States.  I just had no idea what to write about.  So, of course, I procrastinated and piddled around on the internet, rather than committing to writing.

Slowly, though, a message started to reveal itself.

My sister’s boyfriend posted something on Facebook about no more zero days.  An email from a writer’s mailing list had a quote from Amy Poehler about taking risks, getting out of your comfort zone, doing what you’re afraid of, even if you think you aren’t ready.  And here on WordPress, a (again, writing) blog I follow, talked about taking little actions until you get the results you want.  The message was persistent: do something everyday towards your goal, even if it’s small.  You’ll never know if you don’t try and even if you fail, you learn something new.

I got straight over to my blog and started typing.  My butt was lit.

It all sounds so trite, I know, but sometimes the trite stuff is exactly what you need to hear.  The cosmos knew it, and loaded me up with a big helping of it.

So, moral-of-the-story #1 is:  Procrastination isn’t always what it seems.  If you’re paying attention, you might just find what you’re looking for.

But, don’t forget moral-of-the-story #2:  No giving up.  Do something everyday, no matter how small, that moves you closer to your goal.  Because we all know, a little bit, over time, adds up to a lot.

As for my big ideas, small steps, alongside the farm work, are making me feel that they’re achievable.  Maybe, I’ll even make some friends along the way.  Or at least find better conversationalists than my cats.

The cat face

The annual repatriation

Namibia and I have a like/strongly dislike relationship.  I like it over there, they vehemently do not like me over there and have made it as difficult for me to stay there as they could.  That mountain of stories will have to wait for another time.

Due to the endless visa struggle, I inevitably must return to my home turf.  Such was the case this past month, and so I write this now from the land of Obama and bourbon.  Despite the hole next to me where the wheezing cats should be, the lack of Sniffel chasing dream warthogs on his pillow in the corner, and no Jay to pop by to steal a smooch, I’m enjoying my ephemeral US reinstatement.

At first, I had a problem remembering that I could speak English here.  Before each sentence I’d begin the mental German translation, only to realize that those in my company would actually prefer to hear what I have to say in English.  While that obstacle has slowly faded away, German still slips out from time to time.  Today while shopping for flip flops (because Namibia destroys flip flops), a woman behind me sneezed.  I whipped around to say “bless you”.  Instead “gesundheit” came out.  I am not sure if her look of bewilderment was from the random German or the random politeness.

While the initial excitement to be back may wear off, the appreciation never will.  Appreciation to be able to speak to people on the street and know that we will understand each other.  To be able to walk to a friend’s house when I am lonely, to walk to the store when I need beer, to call my mom on the phone.  These are wonderful things.

Folks tell me they envy my migrant life.  But I always tell them I envy theirs.  They have their friends and family any time, in that magical place called home.  I’ve lost that place.  But I gained an appreciation for my country, the only one that always welcomes me back.  And so I intend to indulge in all that it offers while I’m here.  Until the day when I head back to Namibia and try to patch things up.

Not so far from home

Sometimes, over here in Africa, I feel completely out of place.  Everything seems beyond foreign.  The trees are short and scraggly festooned with thorns of death; a long stretch from the gentle, towering oaks of home.  The locals click when they speak and there is wildlife in my backyard that fell out of a Disney movie.

But the other day, I took a closer look.  Past the enormous giraffes and ostrich, the ever-present warthogs and guinea fowl, and into the background where the not-so-conspicuous animals live.  I started to see that behind everything else, Namibia may not be so different after all.

Example 1: We have squirrels here.  They do not live in trees, hence their name “Cape ground squirrel”, which also, gratefully, takes away their height advantage to chuck things at pedestrians.  It is an opportunistic feeder though, and omnivorous, unlike our Eastern gray, a vegetarian.  Also, it has a bushy tail, though not as severe, which instead of for balance, it uses for shade on hot, sunny days.  Its white stripes I suppose are for camouflage which seems to work because their population is quite large.

Example 2: We have geese, owls, and woodpeckers.  The Egyptian goose is much prettier than the Canadian kind and although common, does not cover your lawn with feces nor does it migrate.  The owls here do the usual owl thing, staying up late catching mice and regurgitating bony hairballs.  We even have a species in common with the U.S., the barn owl, but then so does every other continent, sans Antarctica.  The woodpeckers are rare to see but I enjoy their company.  When I hear their signature tree knocks while they search for bugs to eat (thank you), I look for the bright red head just like back home.

Geese overhead

Example 3:  We have deer.  Sort of.  Ok, kudu are actually related to cows, not deer, but they seem to fill their role.  They are common browsers, though not overpopulated and destructive like the white-tailed.  But, like those guys, kudu have the white underneath the tail which they flip up as a warning signal to others as they flee.  Kudu, just as deer, have road crossing signs and do take out cars from time to time.  Or trucks.  And they are also favorites of hunters because of their horns, not antlers (they don’t fall off every year), which similarly get turned into chandeliers.

So thanks, guys, for your fluffy tails, red heads, hairballs, and car accidents that make me feel a little closer to home.

Okambihi

I went to see an old friend yesterday.  Unfortunately, she was not in.  She was in the bush catching mice.

Okambihi, Herero for “cat”, came to the farm last year.  She was given to retirees living in the back pastures from their children living in town.  I was thrilled upon our first meeting.  Everyone has dogs around here for guarding or hunting.  Hardly anyone has cats and when mine were still in the States, the visits to the little, fuzzy, orange lady filled the hole just a little.

Soon, I extended my burgeoning Herero vocabulary to be able to ask the old folks “Okambihi uripi?”, “Where is the cat?”  Eventually, when we stopped by to bring them sugar or meat, they would just automatically bring the cat out.  She was always very accommodating, and would even purr as I scratched and squeezed her.  Everyone else talked about the weather or the cows, I played with the cat.  I got the feeling her owners thought I was not playing with a full set of marbles.

Her stomping grounds, there by the deep green trees. To the right are goats and chickens, to the left, the cows, below is a neighbor, and otherwise just many miles of wilderness.

These days it is still fun to see her even though I have my own cats here.  She’s always in a good mood and comes over to say hello.  Although she has never gotten very big, she is fearless. 

Quite comfortable on the roof
Inspecting the underside of our car

Just recently, we discovered her people have given her a name, Meid.  It means something like “servant girl”, in Afrikaans.  I assume it comes from her mousing duties.  I don’t know if it’s better or worse than “cat” but I think I’ll stick to Okambihi.  Nonetheless, I think they appreciate her company.  They say if we want any more pictures of her, we’ll have to make a copy for them. 

Meid and her mom