Truly adrift…and truly at peace…

I have been getting emails from family and friends who are unsure whether I’m alive, whether I have Ebola, whether I am avoiding everyone on the other side of the world, or really what country I am in right now. These concerns of those who I love most point to one conclusion:

My life is really interesting.

I’ve been given a rare gift in today’s hyper-connected world – the ability to disconnect. Granted it was not by choice, but life without a phone, where everyone I know is just a touch-screen button away, has, as is to be expected, yielded countless unforgettable moments, a surge of introspection and reflection, and a fresh new perspective on my entire life. My disconnection has led to a far deeper connection with those around me here in Uganda and beyond.

After hearing about some Buddhist approaches to viewing the world and our place in it from my sister Heather on the matatu back from Kampala yesterday, I guess I should thank my phone thief for the lesson he has taught me.

Since I last ranted, rambled and rattled on in this lovely little electronic space for deconstruction and reconstruction, my life has been anything but boring, anything but normal, anything but justified by the paltry words with which I am about to feebly attempt to encapsulate it.

I have met my boss and executive director of S.O.U.L. Foundation – on the day of her introduction no less (imagine a really big ceremony that paves the way for a wedding, which basically feels like a wedding) – where I sat next to her on the bride’s side and was just as surprised by everything I experienced as she was; I have redirected the entire scope of my work here with S.O.U.L., expanding the reach of our data collection in a way that’s about to make a real, lasting impact on this community; I have slept in three different countries, two of which I planned to sleep in, and one of which (Ethiopia) was simply the Universe telling me “Devin, you just GOTTA sleep in Addis.”

I have driven across half of Malawi in a bus full of so many of my favorite people it literally altered my life; I have attended my first music festival in Africa; I have danced while watching the sun rise over Lake Malawi; I have probably had staring contests with about 400 monkeys; I have strengthened my friendships with every single person I have come in contact with who is living and working on this continent; I have been to the Ministry of Education, watched the Minister of Health embarrass himself in front of a crowd of dedicated health professionals, and marveled at the oratory skills of our very own American Ambassador to Uganda, Scott DeLesi; I have exchanged ideas about public health and development with some of the most inspiring individuals I have met while working here; I have completed my Global Health Corps Quarter 1 Workshop and had the opportunity to exchange ideas, challenges and a plethora of emotions with my fellow Fellows all over this country; I have had the opportunity to DJ the music that my friends and I dance to late into the night (and they actually dug it).

I have started eating healthier; I have started smiling more and breathing more easily; I have laughed until I have cried; I have cried tears of sorrow, anguish and exhaustion on the shoulders of some of my dearest friends and found renewed strength in their compassion and love; I have reevaluated my sense of purpose and my reasons for doing what I’m doing out here in Uganda and with my entire life as I know it; I have pressed a refresh button that I couldn’t seem to find for a while there.

I have triumphed. I have struggled. I have emerged. I have loved.

To quote perhaps my favorite film of all time, “There are two types of people in this world: those who are burdened with a lack of life, and those who are burdened with an overabundance of life. I’ve always found myself in the second category.” I am extremely comfortable with where I am in life, and who I am. I have found a new degree of acceptance of Self and a new appreciation for how deeply I care and how deeply I am cared for. I have the best people imaginable in my life right now. I am more blessed than I ever thought possible.

And it feels exactly how it should feel: indescribable. So I’ll turn to images, taken by friends, stolen from Facebook, posted without permission, and without shame.

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Danielle and I, pretending like we can do whatever we want and have NOTHING to worry about all the time forever. Oops.

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Me, Orrin and Heather, and our three new friends. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or, fear.

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What makes Devin happier than Yum Yum and good friends? Nothing. That’s what.

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Yes, I know. This is amazing. And so is Savannah – so great getting closer to this wonderful human being every time I am around her 🙂

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The best of the best of the best – my co-fellow FOR LIFE, Viola, aka Violette, aka Nalutaaya, aka Taya, aka V.

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Chiara! She’s even sweeter than she looks, and she’s the best listener that has ever listened to anyone ever.

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Robyn!!! I had to go WAY TOO LONG without seeing this girl. And of course, she brings me Yum Yum, all the way from Zambia. Seriously? Yes, my life is seriously that beautiful. As is she 🙂

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Survivors.

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