It was a bit of a rough day in regards to mood in our house yesterday. I have been reading a little bit about exercise and mood enhancement, and the correlation is pretty strong that exercise is good for mental health. This is especially true in anxiety and depression. I would say those are the most common struggles of many of us, and especially those of us living in a different culture. I tend to be more optimistic if I find time to exercise, and I envy those who find it easy to do. I do not always want to exercise, much less do I find the time to do it. And this is despite knowing the positive effects. So with everyone a bit down yesterday, I decided we were going on a walk. We would go to the caves and then up to the railroad tracks. A few short steep uphill sections followed by a meandering downhill walk. We noted some clouds in the sky, but it seemed like there was more sun than clouds. The old Boy Scout in me recommended we take some jackets. It was good that we did, because just as we reached the cave, the rain came. We decided we would cross-country home, bush-wacking, avoiding steep drop-offs, spraining wrists, and ruining clothing. But we made it. And you can decide for yourself from the picture whether it had a positive affect.
Not many kids in the United States start school wearing sweaters and jackets. It is one of the weird parts of living in the southern hemisphere at 7000 feet elevation. All of the kids attend Rift Valley Academy, participating in different activities including rugby, band, art, and Model United Nations to name a few. RVA is a boarding school, but our kids live with us and walk up to the school every day. They are glad they get to go home and are not burdened by the “rules” of boarding school life. We are glad they are home, too, but can still enjoy the social life offered at school.
I’m doing a lot of thinking about eyes lately. The most graphic reminder is our precious daughter, Sarah. Look at her poor eye!
This pitiful looking burn is brought to you by a bug, ironically named “Nairobi Eye.” If you crush them or even, as Sarah did, flick them off you, they release an acid that burns the skin. We have had a major infestation on campus, as well as a few around our house. I washed one down the shower drain the other morning, as I did not want to bathe with it. Sarah was playing outside with her friends, climbing on playground equipment, and one of these beetles dropped on her face.
Although I feel a wave of sympathy every time I look at her, I keep reminding myself to be so thankful that she did not get the acid inside her eye.
I am leading the ninth grade through The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who have not read it (you should!), but in the first few chapters the narrator wonders if he might lose his eye. I was telling my classes that my mom lost her right eye and functioned very well for twenty years more! It is a brilliant metaphor in the book for the character’s awakening, for his experience of seeing things with new eyes, reconsidering all his assumptions. It makes me wonder what I need to re-see, what I assume is truth that needs to be upended. Living in another country will do that to you– challenge your assumptions, so that you can see better.