10 Years

The longer I live in Johannesburg, the more difficult it becomes to write about what I’m experiencing. Sometime in the last two and a half years, I ceased to be an anthropologist/observer and became something else. I have now lived here for longer than I did in San Francisco, my chosen location after four enforced years in Boston’s tundra. There was a slow process of yuppification after college, like being stuck in a gooey bowl of gelatinous credit card debt, car payments, and the sweet girlie-drinks that came after work and before the latest fondue dinner craze. I was waiting for the whole mess to solidify around me when I finally got out.

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Other Wars

I have stopped turning on the television news and started reading more press outside of the mainstream. Escaping incessant coverage of one war and its aftermath only leads to a gruesome kind of variety: the world is full of sideshow conflicts. Many of them rage in Africa, under the radar of international coverage or even humanitarian aid. It becomes difficult when living, as Rian Malan has written, in “a doomed city on a damned continent”, not to see the rhetoric of the Iraq war from all sides as somehow hypocritical by omission.

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Spiritual Places

In real life, we weather storms, endure pain, and grow from our experiences, often without a clear path from the lowest points to the highest. Summitting a great mountain offers the opportunity to turn aching into victory in a more controlled way. Waking and sleeping in a sacred place for five days, I had been feeding my demons into the metaphorical fire to motivate me on the way up. Old, festering fears and doubts had been incinerated like emotional garbage in the flames of my ascent.

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