Trips to Kenya should come with a warning label. “Caution: individuals traveling to Kenya may experience unexplained disorientation and confusion on returning to their homes. Inattention may lead to hazardous driving, long silences, and immoderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. Individuals having experienced in small measure life in the Third World may also note a lack of patience with the trivial problems peculiar to the First World.”
I've been idling along since I got back from Kenya, going to work a lot, doing a (very) little bit of writing, and occasionally going for a run. Writing has suffered from a rather confused idea of what to do next, having finished one book and having a dozen waiting in the wings.
I started the novel about Grace, the main character in my future novel about Kenya. Started and ground to a halt over a bit of conversation. Meanwhile, the characters from the last book chattered away inside my head and the opening scene of the sequel popped. Eventually those voices overwhelmed Grace which means that her novel gets put on hold until I finish the series.
Or maybe not.
I'm toying with the idea of writing both at the same time. This morning, I happily spent an hour mapping the general outlines of the sequel. I have two possible endings for it, one pretty standard, the other a bit off the wall that I really need to understand before I try it. Tomorrow I'll try mapping Grace's story and see what happens.
To do both, I'm going to need to make a few choices. The biggest will be to deliberately forego income which is darn near Un-American. To make it happen, I'll need to focus on working with people that I like or on projects that I think are interesting. Those should generate enough to pay bills while I write, read, and run more. The second change is a deliberate effort to spend time in activities that are rewarding emotionally. That's more time with family, friends, and outdoors, less with bores, natterers, and nincompoops.
Life choice decisions like this aren't possible for the vast majority of Kenyans. For the small middle class, work is six days a week, a far cry from the American ideal 40 hour work week or the European 30 hours. For the rural areas, work is a seven day a week activity for everyone. When they aren't at their jobs, picking tea for example, they're working the family garden plot or tending to the cows. Cooking is still done over a fire for many women, laundry done by hand in a bucket.
We – you, me - live fundamentally comfortable First World lives which we are disinclined to disturb. That we can blame on evolution, which has hardwired us to be risk-adverse. As a survival strategy, it is highly effective. Surviving, though, doesn't translate to living fully, to rising up to meet our higher aspirations. For that, we need to take chances. More accurately, I need to take some chances.
It might work as well as the first, and last, man who thought domesticating a lion would work. If so, consider it an object lesson on what not to do.
Until I try, I won't know and that not-knowing will nag at me.