The Kenyan Nomad

The Kenyan Nomad

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

To Be, To Listen


It was there when I first emerged into the world. It's always there, I'm accustomed to it--to the point that when it's quiet, I feel like something is missing. 

There's the constant urge to fill moments with noise that have resulted in the inability to be still and to listen. To be still. To be. Whether my phone and the myriad of distractions within, or movement, or the many books I've read, I've forgotten how to exist in silence. 

Yesterday, I went on a surprise visit organised by the Executive Director of Metis, where I'm interning this winter. We ended up at Nairobi National Park, and the open greenness of the park juxtaposed with the city in the background was ideal for thinking, as was the conversation sparked my colleagues, from which two themes emerged: stillness and attention. 

I could contextualise where these came from, but I think that matters less than the fact that they did. And they resonated, deeply. 

I've forgotten how to be still. I've forgotten to use that stillness to pay attention in a way that matters. Instead, stillness is so foreign that it's almost frightening. That I rush to fill it--either with distractions that take me away from it or with ruminations that feed into a growing sense of anxiety about my life, about the future, about my country, about existence itself. 

"Who would you be without your anxiety?" My therapist asked me this question about a year and a half ago and it stopped me in my tracks. It's a question I'm still exploring, and I'm slowly realising that the stillness that feeds my anxiety is the same stillness I'm called to pay attention to in order to dissolve it

I have forgotten how to be bored. We as a society have forgotten how to be bored. This has implications on my ability as a 30 year old to create vs. just execute. I can't even begin to imagine what this means for children. 

What does this mean for me, then? 

I'm holding myself accountable, gently, kindly, to be still. To tune into that stillness and pay attention to it and to what matters. To be grateful for the ability and privilege to do so. To stop letting my head be louder than my heart. 

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