Contemplating the Yin and the Yang – 18 February 2018

This world is a big place, and it is full of both beauty and darkness; love and hatred; peace and violence. I believe if there is a benevolent balance of light and dark we’re doing okay. I also believe the Ubuntu principle that people are only people through other people. We would not be who we are without those others around us who shape our day-to-day, our lives, and therefore our selves.

But sometimes it feels as if the balance is heavily skewed, that life itself is swathed in a black sheet, and the lightness barely shimmers as minute faraway stars boldly resisting total domination.

Sunset Baobabs

Humanity can be so beautiful. The simple love in the eyes of a Mother as she watches her son playing on his own, lost in imagination. The sense of gratitude that ripples through the air when a stranger says hello with a smile to a homeless woman sitting in the street – because we’re never really alone. The look of recognition, of deep down knowing, that passes between friends as they watch the sunset from the balcony of a high rise, in solitude together in the middle of the masses, where the world feels small.

We wouldn’t be able to make it through life without others there by our side – family, friends, strangers: we are all connected and we all need each other.

But humanity can also bring such devastation – devastation to the environment, devastation to other human beings, devastation to our individual hearts… Sometimes we forget the beauty that is there every day because humanity can be truly horrific. And I hate that the horrors have the tendency to more heavily shape our societies and our cultures. That’s only natural, though.

People are only people through other people – that will always be true. It’s just sad when humanity has the power to bury itself.

This is why generation after generation of people escape to the wilderness. There is no good or evil there. There is only life and death – a much simpler matter. Humans were once a part of the wilderness – but then we weren’t. We made life more and more complex as our brains became things that can both believe in beauty and harbor hate.

Untitled 3

And now so many of us walk the earth without feeling it beneath our feet. We are wrapped up in the dramas of humanity, and we forget our own scale. We think we matter so much, and that lack of humility causes the benevolent balance between beauty and darkness, love and hatred, peace and violence to sometimes only exist just beyond our reach.

Love can be extraordinarily complicated. But it can also be the simplest and most beautiful thing when we forget the necessity of angst, of anger, of hate, and of the self-doubt that inevitably sits at the core of all of those feelings…

Humanity doesn’t have to bury itself in its own imbalances. We need to recognize our own magnitude, or lack thereof, and understand humility – our own insignificance. All men and women are created equal, and we are all just small specks in this world. We must unleash and focus on the simple acts and feelings of love that exist between people in those moments when we realize that we are only ourselves because of those surrounding us.

We have a choice: we can be who we are because of the destruction that others may bring to our lives, or we can be who we are because we forever feel that thread of connection that runs through each and every one of us, tugging on our hearts, bringing us together…


Just a few thoughts as violence and hate still run rampant in our world. Some days I can’t handle the disgust I feel towards other human beings. But then I remember that life can be unbearably short, and you never know what tomorrow may bring. Why waste the minutes of our lives in anger towards those who think of themselves as gods and lack the ability to realize that their hatred is unnecessary?

I’m certainly not a Saint, though, and still at times wish I could stick a pin in the inflated egos of all those who aggressively forget their scale.

In other news, I’ve been swept away into the whirlwind that is Pre-Service Training (PST). I don’t know which is easier/preferable: being one of the many swept away into the uncertainties and anxieties of training, or being one of the few trying to direct that whirlwind for the others – the trainees… Certainly interesting either way!


The trainees arrived on the 7th, and we spent a solid week and a half together, which felt like a month 🙂 At both training centers – in Dar and in Morogoro – they were of course full of excellent questions that allowed me to reflect on aspects of my own service that I haven’t thought about for quite some time.


They are now living with their homestay families. It was so fun to see them meet their new family members – awkward handholding (cultural), uncertain/failed attempts at communication, and smiles all around… Then they were off to their homes for the next few months – the true beginning of PST. I think they’re all ready for the challenge… And I am ready for challenge of being a PCVL at PST: leader, mentor, all-knowing, ever-optimistic but still realistic, and still a volunteer after all…

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