Monday, October 26, 2009

The Grass is Greener

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ~Henry David Thoreau

There is a common saying that goes "the grass is greener on the other side." But what exactly does it mean? The grass is greener on the other side of the fence? OK, what if I live in a semi-arid or arid environment and we don't really have grass on the other side of the fence? Oh, yes, now I get it! The grass is greener on the other side of the country(?) or at least on the other side of the river, right?
If nothing else, the grass is most definitely greener on the other continent - i.e. America or Europe.
This is the perception from many many Kenyans I have spoken to. Often times the Kenyans whom I consider friends, as well as many people whom I've made acquaintances with, will make a joking statement about me taking them back to the U.S. or elsewhere outside of the country.
Perhaps they think the grass is greener in the U.S. or wherever it is that I may end up traveling.

The Greener Pastures
The greener pastures of the U.S. and Europe contain no poverty, plenty of electricity and clean water, and best of all job opportunities for everyone!

Such at least, is the perception of the greener pastures. The real pastures may not have as much grass these days. After the fire/drought of the global economic crunch the pastures have changed..

And yet the perception of the green pastures continues with pictures of Obama in the newspapers and the films and tv shows depicting the U.S. as a wonderful place to be.

The Greener Pastures
On the other side of the fence, we have the greener pastures in Kenya. Even as a peace corps volunteer, I find many enticing things on this greener pastures...
Laid back lifestyle - Time is not the same in Kenya as it is in the U.S. It's not that time is not important here, but people are more important than time itself. People are people and not just numbers and figures of time.
[Note: The concept of time as we know it may also be entirely wrong.]
Fresh food - A lot of the food I eat is fresh from the farm, the milk is fresh from the cow or camel, the meat is also fresh having been a living creature within hours before consumption (note: I don't cook meat myself and I've almost become a vegetarian). And how could I forget, every time is "Chai time". Chai is served at 10am and at 4pm (+/- some minutes) at the school.
Peacefulness - when is the last time you sat on your porch (with a mosquito coil burning to prevent getting mosquito bites) just enjoying the peacefulness and beauty of the stars, the moon, and the night life (bats flying around)?

Of course the greener grass in Kenya also has some weeds - let's face it from afar we may think we see grass and in reality we are seeing weeds that are growing that look like grass.

Yet every place will have its ups and downs.

So we should just go with the flow. Live with what we have and learn from every experience. If, at one point in our lives we get the opportunity to get out there and experience the 'greener' side then we might as well give it a shot see what it's like and learn from our experiences. You never know when experiences from the past might come in handy in the future.

Make the most of the grass you have on your side of the (metaphorical) fence. Instead of looking at what you don't have and the grass on the other side of the fence, appreciate what you do have and make the most of it.

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