My family and I moved to South Africa in 2007. Besides a 2 year hiatus, we’ve held the title of “foreign national” for eight years strong. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the way I’ve tried to make my American culture fit into a land that thinks so differently. Bottom line is, it doesn’t. There are days that I like to think I’ve adapted and changed to this different culture. Then load shedding hits, and it all goes to pot.
What is load shedding, you may ask?
South Africa does not have enough power to run the country. We won’t get into the reasons of why. In order to compensate, we have regular power outages, usually lasting about two hours and usually in the evening when day has given way to night, and it’s just plain dark outside.
Those are days that I get grumpy. You know why? It’s inconvenient. I have to go all the way to the cabinet to pull out the lanterns. Sometimes it happens while I’m cooking dinner, and I can’t even see what I’m throwing in the pot. So metimes I forget to charge my phone leaving me unconnected from the world. Gasp. Sometimes it means my kids don’t get a shower before bed, because the pressure pump can’t run without electricity resulting in a low trickle coming from the shower head. See. It’s inconvenient.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize, though. This is my life right now. It doesn’t matter what my American way of thinking tells me it should be. I can fight it, or I can embrace it.
I’m slowly choosing to embrace it.
It all started with my son actually. After a candlelit dinner, I didn’t see him anywhere, so I called him, “Joshua! Where are you?” I heard his voice coming from the picnic table on the back verandah. “I’m out here.” “What are you doing?” I asked. He replied, “I’m looking at the stars.” I went outside, and the sight took my breath away. They were simply beautiful, piercing the darkness with their white twinkles.
It was in that moment that I found beauty in the ashes. Inconvenience has presented us with an opportunity, a chance to slow it down for a moment. We’ve been forced to put modern technology aside for a blip in time, and I want to embrace the riches of what that provides for our family.
My language has changed from, “Oh, great. There’s no power,” to “Look! We get to eat by candlelight!” The glass is half full, right?
You may not be a foreign national like me, trying to adjust to the injustices that make you want to scream, but I’m sure there are things in your life that are begging for a perspective shift.
What is your load shedding? What is the thing needs a glass half full perspective? Embrace it for all it’s worth. Your life and your family will be richer for it.