When Nothing Unexpected Ever Happens




“Deep down, people complain, but they love routines – I said. – Of course, and the reason is very simple: routines give them the false sensation of being safe. Thus, today will be exactly like yesterday, and tomorrow will bring no surprises. When night falls, part of the soul complains that nothing different was experienced, but another part is content – paradoxically, it is for the same reason.

Evidently this safety is completely false; no one can control anything ….” (Paulo Coelho. Warrior Of The Light – Vol 2)

Alone, I drove my motorcycle 85 km into the parched Malian Sahel to an isolated village where I am responsible for a development project.

However, upon arrival I discovered that the work which was to have been accomplished yesterday did not happen.

The guy I sent out to do the leg work yesterday forgot to charge a battery before heading into the bush- the very battery I asked if he had topped up before he left yesterday.

Today, I pulled into the remote village  on my motorcycle, I could see the battery was now charging via a solar panel, but the battery would not be ready to work until the end of the day.

At one time this “incompetence” would have bothered me. But now I chalk it up to simple human frailty. We all have it.  I also seem to have much of this frailty in me lately as well, so I am getting better at accepting it in others.

Since his work had to precede mine, there was little I could accomplish in the village other than to sit, visit and enjoy the people for a while, and then plan to come back another day. Unfortunately, I was not packing the necessities to stay in the bush for the night. Which was fine by me, because my friend said a mouse bit him on the ear as he slept on a mat last night.

After visiting a while, I asked if someone could take me to the Bani River, a further 8km north into the bush, which would push me almost 100km into the middle of nowhere in Mali. I had never been to the banks of the Banifing River, but over the last few years I had hoped to have time to get there at least one time. Today was my opportunity after a extremely rare short day of work out here, before heading back to Sikasso, which is usually a race to get out of the bush before  dark.

We weaved further north through the savanah on the motorcycles to the river where I had an opportunity to watch this fisherman expertly work his throw net in the murky pools of the meandering flow of this severely drained drought- season river.

Going to the Bani River, 100 km from civilization, to watch a fisherman fish, was not what I had planned for today, but it certainly was a gift to experience this.

I am learning to appreciate the “unexpected”, as I lose more and more of my respectability.

“In those days, I was always on time. I was entirely respectable, and nothing unexpected ever happened.”  Bilbo Baggins. 


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