This is the title of one of my favorite Eagles songs (I’m sure many of you will begin humming the familiar tune as you read this). It is also a catchphrase—among many others—of one of my good friends here, Eddie. On any given day, Eddie will tell me to “ka ka na” or slow it down and take it easy. I’ve come to appreciate this phrase for a number of reasons, but I also believe it captures the essence of my Minerva fellowship thus far. Let me explain.
I think that many of us have been fooled into believing that a good life—a successful life—demands variety and constant change. We believe that we need more money so that we can buy ourselves more options, more choices and, ironically, more time. We believe that we need a new wardrobe, 1000+ movies on Netflix (I am not the negating the importance of Netflix. I truly miss Netflix…), 173849078 friends on fb, and an iphone with a speedier processer and thinner body or whatever Apple is currently creating.
We swim in excess and possibility without ever grasping the value of our own opportunity or privilege. We clench our teeth because we hate living in this fast-paced frenzy and, yet, we continue to hurry. Our frantic mentality translates into everything we do. We move and move and move and move.
And, consequently, we never invest the time needed to read that good book, to explore that idea, to develop that relationship. Meaning and intention is lost in our erratic movement.
In stark contrast to the U.S., there is an ease—a peaceful simplicity—that surrounds all of life here. It’s a quiet comfort, a sense of serenity that is rarely found in the States.
For the first time in many, many years, I have been able to live without constant distractions. I have been able to ask myself “what do I really want to accomplish?” and become wholly immersed in worthwhile projects. This time has given me the opportunity to think deeply, wrestle with tough concepts, and learn incessantly.
Does life get monotonous at times? Yes.
Is it annoying to wait for people to show up to meetings or appointments? (Punctuality isn’t really a thing) Yes. Matt and I have certainly struggled to define our own perceptions of time and distinguish pure laziness from cultural differences.
Does Uganda still have widespread issues in terms of health, education, gender, and politics? Yes. It’s not perfect here, by any means.
I do not want to romanticize poverty nor do I want to diminish systemic problems in Uganda.
But there is truly something to be said for a culture whose people take their time to eat, walk, work—live. There is inherent value in the consistency and simplicity of life here—in Ddegeya—and it’s quite lovely.
So ka ka na. “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”