037 – Managing Excitement – more than a travel article

7 May 2021

(Postscript – added after publishing. I realize some of this repeats information from 035, but the emphasis here is on how it is affecting me more than the practicalities of planning. So – forgive the duplication. I’ll get better!)

If only living could be simple. At times like this, I feel like I’m visibly vibrating with excitement. I’m preparing to start on at least a couple of months, potentially much longer, of travel, visiting, and meeting new people – making new friends. But I’m also at one of those points in life where a renewed sense of purpose is almost palpable.

The challenge now is to focus, and to choose where to apply my energies and attention. I’ve often advised people of two very basic principles I learned from others:

  1. When making a decision, it isn’t picking one that is difficult, it is letting go of everything else that you might have done instead.
  2. When you say “I have no time” that’s not the real problem. The true challenge is to realize you haven’t chosen your priorities.

At 71, I reluctantly have come to a sort of stand-off with the reality that there simply isn’t enough time to do everything I want. While I realize not everyone is like that, it is an overriding truth in my life.

This morning, I forwarded an article to a friend here in Oranjemund about a recent acquaintance who specializes in the possible application of astronomy to cultural change. The idea was to let him know about an idea for getting the “Astronomer” (actually, an AstroPhysicist – but by her own admission that word tends to frighten people!) to prepare a conceptual proposal to integrate her ideas into a project I’m working on. As of now, I’m not sure she will be able to participate, but I’m hoping so. I’m going to quote myself here because for the first time in six years in Namibia I managed, in the opening paragraph, to succinctly capture the dilemma of many people who come to Africa:

I’m suffering from living with two equally powerful forces: the excitement that overcomes me with possibilities, side by side with the experientially inevitable crushing disappointments of lack of understanding, interest and attention to what an envisioned project could mean for Namibia and Oranjemund. Additionally, there is a widespread inability to see how implementation is different from having ideas. With that bleak intro, I have an(other) idea.

As I sit here trying to figure out how to express all of the thoughts and feelings flying through me like a locust swam invading a grain field, I just had to express, as best I can, what that all means.

I haven’t traveled, for traveling’s sake, in many years. In one month, I leave Oranjemund to be back in the USA, and near my daughter, for two months. I’ve only been back twice in six years, both times for just a few days. When I left, she was 20 and just coming to grips with the adulthood in front of her. While I’m there over the next few months, she turns 27 and has gained the experience that comes to everyone, plus some unique abilities to deal with a life that is unique to her. I am so looking forward to getting to know my daughter again, although we do talk on zoom and messaging with some regularity. It’s just not the same as being there.

I’m also in the USA to clean out/up my 42 foot (13 meter) sailboat “Inspiration” that was my home for the vast majority of 25 years, and which I shared with my daughter for about 7 of those years. She is going to spend some time helping me go through literally everything I own that I don’t have in my house in Namibia. I’m sure there will be nostalgic memories and family stories as we run into various things, and some boring “just get it done” times. I’ll also have time alone in my previous home, and on occasion Tim, a good friend, will help. When the possessions are cleared out, and the boat is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned (I’m hiring someone to do that, I hope!), it is going up for sale most likely. And it’s time.

I’ve never had much difficulty in “letting go” of possessions. Although that boat was my home through some very meaningful times, it is in some ways a piece of plastic/fiberglass, teak and metals. I carry my home with me in my heart, but my housing can change. I love my two bedroom house in Oranjemund, but it is distinctly different to live in the Namib Desert coming from having floated on the Pacific Ocean or one of its bays for the better part of three decades.

When the boat is sorted, and I’ve had time with my small family, I head off on the California Zephyr Railway for Chicago – a trip I am really looking forward to! Then I’ll hop my way across the US, at least part of the time on trains, to Milwaukee Wisconsin, Wichita Kansas, Beaufort North Carolina, and Bethesda Maryland – visiting friends in all those locations. Come the end of August, I’ll decide if I’m going to return to Namibia to stay, or leave again shortly to continue traveling, or possibly not return to Namibia yet and to keep travelling. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get some “oomph” behind building a museum to house the artifacts of the “Bom Jesus” shipwreck found off the coastline near Oranjemund in 2008. I’ll devote at least one full posting to that situation before long, but basically it hasn’t gotten off the ground yet. I’m determined to leave behind enough information on the modern concept of a Museum, and a vision as a stake in the ground, that if the right people can be located, and activated, we could create a museum that would change the economic future of Oranjemund and southern Namibia by its impact on tourism. It could likewise serve to help open the minds of Namibians to the greater world that is available to them. The educational opportunities for youth are staggering, and the scientific value of building a center for archeological and cultural studies would benefit everyone. The project is visionary, will require strong political will, and a degree of open mindedness that is not common in the government of Namibia in the face of the substantial challenges faced by this young country. It is intensely political. I don’t see myself having a role in managing, or benefitting from, the venture but will consider it a major life achievement if I can play a small supportive role in getting the project started with a reasonable chance of success.

I hope to encourage the Museum to be undertaken as a proper Museum project – not just a building to put stuff in. The educational, cultural, and scientific benefits that would derive from doing it right are truly monumental. On a personal basis, it is the epitome of applying a quote I love from Edward Everett Hale, an American author who said (one variant):

“I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

I’ll have more to say about him in future posts.

I’m balancing personal excitements that all involve a renewed sense of purpose: Travels, family, friends, and working while afar on projects within my new home in Namibia. I look forward to learning how to better express these opportunities to you and welcome your inputs and reactions.

As always, please “Follow” this blog with the button at the lower right. You’ll get an email when I post a new blog. Your interest helps me a lot.

035 On the Move! (again)

28 April 2021

As this is being written, I’m listening to my Spotify playlist “ADG African” (ID “TekhneGuy”, or you might see “agarrison71”) – you are welcome to share it if you like.

Today I start making serious plans for travel, departing Namibia on 29 May for at least three months, possibly much longer. I’m going back to my USA home in the San Francisco Bay area and visit my daughter and small family there for the first couple of months. I’ll also be clearing out my boat “Inspiration” that has been stored out of the water since April 2015 with everything I own (that’s not in Africa) aboard. Most likely, unless my daughter has other desires for the boat she lived on often as a small girl, I will sell the boat that was my home for the vast majority of 25 years before I left for Africa in 2015. End of an era, moving on, etc.

I feel a renewed sense of purpose now that my Residence Permit for Namibia is approved and I have a flight ticket for the trip. It feels odd to get a one-way ticket. In Early August, I’ll leave the SF Bay area, and take the California Zephyr Railway to Chicago, then hop my way across the eastern USA visiting some very good friends – ending up in Bethesda, Maryland, sometime in mid-late August. From there – I don’t know what will happen. I’ll either go back to Namibia or keep travelling. I’ll keep you posted on this website.

It feels good to be writing on WITWIA again – and I think there will be more consistency now. Not only do I have more of a sense of purpose, but I’ve joined with two very good friends in a “writer’s group” to encourage each other and hold each other accountable for our commitments to the small group. My commitments to the group fold nicely into my intention to write for WITWIA much more often, so I intend for you “dear reader” (that sounds so quaint!) to have more to see on WITWIA from this point forward.

I think WITWIA will end up being a combination travelblog, personal blog, and (hopefully) somewhat provocative view of life as I see it. There is a certain freedom in being 71 that lets me speak up a bit more freely than I’ve felt comfortable with for most of my life. I’m sure I’ll write more on that at some point. And yes, I’ll start including pictures and videos at some point! Hang in there.

There is a page “Ideas for future blogs” on the home page that lists what I’ve come up with for topics at this point. Most of the ideas are quite old, but still relevant. If you have something you’d like to see me talk about, please leave a note on that page.

The  site is pretty rudimentary at this point. I plan to improve it as time moves on: for instance letting you “like” or “upvote” one of the topics on the Ideas page so I can address the most popular ones. Until I get that working, feel free to tell me what you would like to see in the comments box on the Ideas page.

It would be great if you “follow” this blog with the button in the lower right corner. I look forward to staying in touch as travel plans develop over the next year.