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Up at 04h30. In Entebbe airport by 06h00. On a plane by 08h30 and starting the long trek home. It’s all so managed. So clean. In your seat. Eat your meal. Listen to music or fall asleep for distraction. I feel awry in the whitespace. My clothes are filthy, and probably smell a little.

My music player has been repaired with duct tape where the headphone jack broke. Only one of the earpieces still works anyway. I do this every year to headphones that have served me so faithfully otherwise. The last push always kills them.

I’m the roughshod remnants of great lakes dust,¬†existential confusion and too much learning to be healthy. Packaged in a clean steel tube and flung through the skies back to South Africa.

The Epulu river at sunset. Eastern DRC.

 

I’m the will to ride tiny bikes into mountains, and the dying carcasses of busses into the ¬†orange-dirt throats of the tumbling green jungles.

I’m nights spent wrestling with the dark, the heat, and the mosquito questions of why. Needing a reason beyond simple tropes of ‘feeling alive’ and discovery. Life is bigger, so much bigger than my own tiny preoccupations. To live is to engage. And to engage reaches so much further than myopic fantasies of embellishing personal stories.

It requires, in humility, that we learn to reach excitedly into all the spaces we are not. Aren’t yet. All the worlds and stories that we could think to create with each other. The places where we come with nothing but eager energy.

For all their power, castles are lonely places. It s only on the wide, unprotected plains that we find ourselves so free to run.

When the sun sets, I want no empire. Only held hands, full eyes, and tired feet.

Cattle crossing the Epulu river at the end of the day, as a storm approaches. Not a minute later, everything was sodden. Eastern DRC.