Shana Ogren and Adorable
Friend in Africa
The Clock Ticks Here
By Shana Ogren
After living for two years in a village in Malawi, Africa, I returned to the United States. Since I have returned, time is not on my side. I worry and long for more. There is not enough. Is there plenty of time to search for a new job? Is there enough time to show each person I love how much they mean to me? Can we find time to cook and eat together every night? "No." "No." "No." I quickly have regained my American sense of production, schedule, and rush. What time is it? It is time to do more, to be more, and to make more.
Then I remember Malawi.
What time is it? It doesn't matter. Nobody owns a watch. Nothing's on time anyway. I can finally glorify in being late. Time is not money here. There is no money. Time is just what you're passing through while you're living and loving and dying.
"The fence will be built in a week." The fence will maybe be built in 2 months. "It's just down the road." It's actually an eight mile walk away, and you’re stopped for both church and some boiled goat at the chief's hut along the way. "I'll meet you at 3pm." I'll see you at 7pm. Yes, yes, the answer is always yes. Is this the way? Is this what you want? What is your name? "Yes." "Yes." "Yes."
Sit back. Relax. Wait. This is the name of the game. Have a seat. Peel a mango. Eat it. Sweat a good amount more. The sun is shining. Many things ought to get done. Maybe one of them will.
In some ways, the American and the Malawian difference in time interpretation and practice is a sign of bad and good times that are. In America, we have seen time used to change and develop things. So we trust time. We depend on time as a means to an end.
I remember Malawi.
There is no time, because there is no development. There are no changes. And there is not hope that one day there will be. So time is not a means to an end. The way time moves is not something you fight here. It is a process you accept.
But I want to develop. I want to change. I want to create new things. But I also want the patience that inherently comes with slow motion development. I want the appreciation of life that comes with merely appreciating each moment on its own—the feeling that it doesn’t matter what time it is. I want to say both "Yes" and "No."
Hope fills me with the desire to remember how to see both points of view. But maybe sight is not what I need to focus on. Lady Justice was blind as she held the beam balance and the weight of two sides. I don’t need to SEE the difference. I need to HOLD it, and hopefully, to hold it in an even way.
Ball Python Image on Banner by Richard Chambers