Have you ever done that thing where you ask somebody a question just so they'll ask you the same question back? This is a widely used conversation technique. (By 'widely used' I mean, I think people other than me might do this). This conversation method creates the perfect segue for telling someone the thing you wanted to tell them in the first place, but it's just more socially acceptable to fain interest in their life first. (Just note that this is coming from someone who is rather terrible at communicating with... homo sapiens...so...just know that. And maybe don't follow my lead.)
I've been using this technique more than usual as of late. I'll find myself in such an opportunity to tell people my exciting news and I'll casually say.. "So, you got any trips coming up soon?" 9 times out of 10, they'll say "No, You?" and equally as casually, in a tone that would suggest their question was almost unexpected, I'll say "Yeah... actually we're going to Uganda in March."
BAM! Conversation started. The person on the other end of this pretty much has no choice but to participate because when you tell someone you're going to Uganda, they don't say "Oh really? Cool! Welp, see ya later!" The immediate reaction is a usually a combination of disgust, surprise and curiosity followed by concerns that I've somehow already contracted the Zika virus. Understandably, everyone's first question is "Why Uganda?" The answer I give is something along these lines:
Ry and I are probably going to think about having kids soon... and we want to knock off those places that we're highly unlikely to visit once littles are in the picture. I also have a couple of acquaintances that are the directors of a charity organization called 'Our Village Uganda' that we're going to visit and do some volunteering at, etc. (I get to play with little kids and Ry gets to build little desks for the kindergartners!!!) So that makes sense right? And all of that is true. But to get to the real answer of why we're spending a lot of money to go to a less traveled, remote part of Africa where I have to wear modest, long sleeved clothing (I'm quite sad about this)... I have to dig deep and actually do some real soul searching.
To be honest, I didn't really WANT to go to Uganda. I mean, now that we're less than 2 weeks away from departure, I'm definitely excited to get there but that is something that's developed as I've become more accustomed to the idea. I WANT to go to Switzerland. To hike through the Alps, eat meat and cheese on sleeper trains, backpack through gorgeous European landscapes! I WANT to go to Vietnam. Wear all the skimpy and flowy boho clothes my heart desires, eat Vietnamese food, rent scooters and choose our own adventure everyday, paying next to nothing to do it. For these reasons, I struggled when making the decision to book Uganda over those places... because even though it wasn't the place I wanted to go most, it was where my heart was most strongly pushing me.
I started to do some of this soul searching on my way to work one morning after I drove past a girl I recognized. I can't remember her name, but I used to see her every Friday when I would go to Giant Tiger to buy lotto pool tickets. She's got to be about 35-ish. I'm pretty sure she's a single mom and I often see her walking to work, early in the morning with a bad limp. She is probably one of the kindest, most outgoing, outwardly happy people I have ever met. When I saw her this morning, (and I'm scared of saying this for risk of sounding self-righteous) I don't know if I felt bad for her or if I felt ashamed of myself. I have so many blessings in my life. I'm healthy, I have incredible friends & family, I'm driving a new-to-me car to an awesome job and in 2 weeks I'm heading across the world with a hunky husband who loves me desperately. But sometimes (and really, a lot of the time) we don't appreciate everything we have going for us. It makes me wonder, if me and that girl were both apart of a social experiment and we were both asked 'How happy are you?'... would our answers be all that different?
To be clear, that girl deserves all the happiness in the world. And I am definitely not unhappy with how my life has gone, I just wish that I didn't take some of the blessings in my life for granted as often as I do. This is a challenge for all of us though, because how can you be grateful for something when it is an every day constant in your life? I think the answer is to put ourselves in situations that force us to change our perceptions about what is constant, or what is normal. And you don't need to travel across the globe to do this. One only needs to volunteer at the local food bank for a day to appreciate being able to afford groceries.
And so that then, is the real answer to 'Why Uganda?' I hope to become less ignorant of the world I live in, to gain empathy and a deeper understanding of what it's like to live without some of my constants. I hope to be faced with uncomfortable situations that will force us to ponder all those things that we never realized we should be grateful for, like clean water, education, opportunity, healthy & convenient food, fair elections, healthcare, etc.
It's still hard to put it to words. But I think Uganda is just one stop on a journey to find the kind of happiness that can only be gained when one has a grateful heart. Two weeks in Africa is not going to change who I am, but it might make me reconsider all the blessings in my life that I didn't appreciate as true blessings before.
If we had of chosen Vietnam, we would have returned with beautifully even tans. I hope to return from Uganda with a little more perspective.
Hi, I'm Lindsay! I am the self proclaimed soul-mate to my hubby Ryan and wannabe philanthropist. I have a passion for writing, street bikes, & rescue dogs. This blog is a random compilation of my daily (formally diagnosed) ADHD thoughts and activities as I try to make the world a better place.