I am in Kasese, Uganda with 48 of our 52 children who are a part of Nikibasika. Yesterday we spent literally the entire day with the kids- and as we were sitting eating dinner at about 10:30 Blair, one of my partners in Nikibasika, made a comment about how present he is when he is here. I realized that that was a perfect articulation of why this annual trip to Kasese is so important to me. I have always described it as being a place where I come and I am completely happy. Hearing him saying that actually made me realize that it is because I am so present here that I am so happy here.
When you are around 52 kids who are unbelievably beautiful, happy and grateful for what they have- and you become literally immersed in them, everything else fades away. Last night I was sitting in my fairly uncomfortable bed, under my mosquito net, still covered in kid grime, dirt, deet and whatever else I got covered in from the day, too tired to shower, but thinking about how much I had enjoyed the day. For me, it is a huge lesson in mindset vs circumstance. I have fought very hard for a set of “perfect” circumstances. An apartment in the West Village, a company that I created, clothes that look good, huge travel experiences and living life big. And while I wouldn’t trade any of that- or stop fighting for that- when I think about the moments that I am truly happy- it is the moments when I am 100% present. It is the moments when my phone is off and I am just talking with someone I care about. It is the moments when I get sick of working and go to a movie instead. It is the moments when I worry less about what I am not doing and focus entirely on what I am doing.
I have started to be able to tell when I am in a good place or when I need to get back to a good place. When I am in a good place I am having fun all the time. I am enjoying every moment, even when things are not ideal or going as I want them to. That is when I have perspective and I am living out being present all the time. I know all too well though when I am not in that state- when I get more anxious, when I can’t focus, when I am worrying more about things that could be than what is in front of me. In that place, nothing productive happens.
So- yet another gift these children have given me- a reminder of what it truly feels like to be in the moment and a challenge to myself to live life back home like I live life in Uganda (but hopefully minus the dirt!).