One of the movies I watched the most often when growing up was Man of La Mancha.1 It seemed that every couple of months, some parent, youth group leader, or teacher decided it was time for a rerun. I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but I do have a soft spot for this film.
We live on a country road on the outskirts of a small town. There are two ways to enter our village from our side of town, but both present several obstacles for cyclists like my husband and me.
One entrance has a STOP sign that is habitually ignored by the motorists, many of whom pay no attention whatsoever to the right-of-way rules. Many folks use this road as a shortcut and don’t realize that there are narrow stretches, pedestrians shopping at roadside stalls, and lowly cyclists on our way to town.
A few years ago my life changed, and not in a small way. There were so many changes at once. It was quite overwhelming and rather discouraging at times.
First, I had to move back to my home country, Ukraine, after having lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina for six years doing missionary and volunteer work. My two sons, who had always been with me, had grown into wonderful young men and moved on to pursue their goals. I needed to find a place to stay, a job, things to do, and motivation to go on.
Have you ever been stuck behind a truck in the middle of rush-hour traffic? The sight of a dirty truck, loaded down with an assortment of rusty metal objects and black, oil-laced fumes pouring out the exhaust pipe, is fairly common across Africa. To be caught behind one in a traffic jam is no one’s idea of pleasure.
Some years ago, a friend and I were on an overnight bus trip to another part of South Africa. We stowed our bags, connected our headphones, and braced ourselves for the long uncomfortable hours ahead. Before the journey began, I remember thinking I wish teleporters existed, and we didn’t have to waste all these hours just to get somewhere. Little did I suspect what was coming.
I recently climbed Table Mountain, here in South Africa, and what a wonder it is! A flat-topped mountain smack-dab in the middle of a city, overlooking two oceans, and with a mountain range dubbed “The 12 Apostles” right behind it. It’s over 3,500 feet (1,066 m) high and teeming with gorgeous vegetation, birds, wild animals, rocks and cliffs, but my favorite thing about it is the breathtaking view!
A recent study done by Charles Schwab showed that in the United States, $2.4 million is the number that makes a household feel wealthy, and just over $1 million is what it takes to feel “comfortable.” Sadly, that means that only about 10% of the population in the United States is “comfortable.” And then there’s the rest of us! And regardless of where a household fell on the income spectrum, nearly every household reported “needing” just a little bit more. Never mind the vast majority of the world’s population living in developing countries, where such amounts would be considered vast fortunes accessible only to the wealthiest.
When I feel a sense of weariness creep in, because the queue of deadlines seems to be getting a little too long, I find it helpful to occasionally stop for a few minutes and allow my mind and heart to relax.
Sometimes I’ll step outside onto the balcony or I’ll sit in my chair near the large glass doors and give my sore eyes a break by looking out at the beauties that fill my view. From my vantage point, the scene is one of abundant trees and overgrown fields, with mountains rising in the distance. The dense clusters of trees have a deep green hue that has a soothing effect just from looking at it.