Life in the U.S. is full of distractions; that’s probably not news to you, but it does come as a shock after living in a rondavel in Lesotho, where my only distractions were the sounds of roosters crowing at 4 a.m., donkeys braying day and night, dogs defending their territories, and Basotho villagers yelling across the corn fields. I used to think the people were angry, but soon learned that shouting is a normal way of communicating in my host country.
It’s only been five weeks since I returned from Lesotho, but somehow it feels like six months. I’m so busy; my calendar is full, as I fill my days with job searching, appointments, networking, workshops, Rosetta Stone Spanish, brushing up on “free” online courses required for certain positions, meeting family and friends for lunch or dinner, and let’s not forget dating.
I’m not even working a full-time job, but it certainly seems like it. I’m all over the place, and one luxury I appreciate more than any other, is the freedom to drive myself. I no longer have to rely on the unpredictable, overcrowded, public taxis from my African village. Transportation in Lesotho was a huge stress factor in my life. I never knew when the public taxi would show up on the dirt road. Even in the middle of winter, when frost covered the red soil outside my rondavel, I would keep my front door open just to hear the sound of the old Toyota engine ascending the steep hill leading to my village. With all my gear ready to go for my weekly shower and grocery shopping, I would scurry through my one door, key ready to turn the lock on my burglar bars, while attempting to fling my backpack straps over my shoulders. Out of breath, I would reach the red-clay road only to discover that I’d mistaken the engine sound of the Toyota taxi. Looking down the hill into the distance, I’d scan the area for a white van with a yellow stripe. When my finger tips grew numb, despite being cuddled inside hand-knitted gloves, I headed back to my burglar bars, and started the whole waiting process again.
You see, I am not suffering from “culture shock,” like some of my friends have stated, but rather from too many distractions. I love being busy, meeting people, having interesting conversations with people, and even the friendly quick chat with cashiers at Trader Joe’s. These were lacking in my life in Lesotho, especially as I was unable to speak their language.
There are so many things to do and see in our world in the U.S. Information overload, too many courses to choose from, classes to attend, whether exercise classes or professional classes, movies, theater, concerts, wonderful shops and malls, exciting foods to buy, excellent customer service, so many choices we take for granted, but not me.
I enjoy my freedom to do what I want to, to drive where I want to go, to watch a recent movie, to meet a friend for a cup of coffee, to eat at a restaurant, to go for a stroll on the beach, and most of all, to be distracted.
I’m grateful for my distractions, because after all, how do we grow? Here we can keep learning and we have the freedom to do whatever we want to improve our skills and to create our own lives. I had enough quiet time in my rondavel that I longed for all the things we take for granted in our comfortable lives in the U.S.