Sometimes we get more out of life by doing less.
A landscape gardener I know learned that lesson recently when she injured her Achilles tendon and wound up with her leg in a cast.
After two weeks she decided she loved it.
That’s not how her family and friends were expecting her to feel because even when she wasn’t working she never sat still.
We thought the thing would drive her crazy. As it turns out, though, the immobilizing device and doctor’s orders to take it easy for a few months have forced her to slow down and appreciate some of life’s quieter pleasures.
She says the main benefit has been the extra enjoyment she has found in spending time with family and friends because while she has been with them she hasn’t felt like she should be doing something else.
I know what she means.
In modern western societies there seems to be an underlying pressure to keep doing things and be productive instead of just be.
That means everyday living is sometimes treated like a job.
I suppose some of that pressure comes from advertising since it’s hard to make money off people who are happy with what they already have and don’t wish to draw more attention to themselves.
That jewelled cast pictured above, by the way, does not belong to my friend.
The one on her foot is very plain.
Anyway, her comments reminded me of how coming to Africa and spending time with people who didn’t want to be doing something else helped me to slow down and get more out of my experiences.
So did spending time in the bush.
When I first arrived I wanted to do lots of things and see lots of animals as quickly as possible.
I even paid for a safari company to chase down the big five.
Pretty soon I was chasing after them a bit more slowly in my own 4×4.
Then after I had been on the continent for a few years I started spending less time driving around and more time sitting quietly at waterholes and in bird hides to see what would come my way.
Occasionally I even stayed behind at our base in one of the reserves while the people I was camping with went for a game drive.
There was always something to watch; birds, insects or just the clouds and sun in the sky and it seemed the less I drew attention to myself and the less I tried to control what happened, the more I saw.
It was very educational and made me feel more at home in Africa. That approach has also been beneficial when applied to other aspects of life.
I’m mentioning this because Botswana is moving closer to the western world every day and I would like to see that happen without the nation losing touch with the pleasures of quiet living.
Sure, there are things Africa can learn from the west, but it works the other way as well.
Sometimes our lessons come from people, sometimes they come from nature and sometimes they can even come from a cast.