FLASHBACK: It has been a full day in Matoso. From a presentation by the students at SCHAP School and a meeting with the SCHAP SCHOOL Board, to a conversation with community members in another village about the possibility of support for their CBO, to a motorcycle ride through south eastern Kenya watching swarms of people coming to and from villages for Market Day. We finally stopped to recharge my phones at the SCHAP School which was the only space that had an outlet which was connected to solar panels. It had been a full day. My senses were shot. I wanted to capture everything. Every second that passed was another missed photo opportunity to capture the essence of my south eastern Kenyan experience. I ultimately surrendered - I wasn’t going to capture everything, but I could be present to everything I witnessed. It was exhausting. As my synapses were recovering from information overload, I noticed from my vantage point that the sun was setting over Lake Victoria. I walked to the fence of the school and stood silently as I watched this daily occurrence in a foreign setting. From where I was standing I could see Uganda and Tanzania as well. For many of the villagers this event was just a marker of another day, for me it was an opportunity to breathe and focus on the beauty of this gift - the explosion of color that erupts from the horizon as the sun disappears for the evening. So I stood, quietly with my new friend Maurice and just watched. No soundtrack. No selfies. Just silence and my breath in a foreign land watching one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.
FLASH PRESENT: I reflect on this exercise and discipline of being present as I sit in a coffee shop in Ashland, OR. Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival were my home for two years. I have intentionally not been virtually present over this week sharing on Facebook and Instagram as I normally do. It has been a new discipline this week to be present with people and not "present with the intention to post" which is a space I normally occupy in my entrepreneurial, extroverted space. The simple gift of conversation and intimacy with dear friends and colleagues in a community that I called home and continue to call home has turned into a huge opportunity to recharge. I have had the privilege of sharing with my community here the personal accounts of my travels which so many have been following on virtual platforms. I have been loved from afar, and it feels really good to be present to the love in person.
It is enough to just be present. Not dwelling on the past. Not uberfocused on the future and the next. There is plenty of time for that. Whether you are staring at a sunset in Matoso, Kenya or sitting in a coffee shop in Ashland, OR sometimes the the gift and space of presence is fearlessly enough.