I (Jeremy) never thought a trip to Costco would result in the same physical discomfort as my time on a Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. I guess it makes sense given the dozen or so 4K UHD Samsung TVs that were blaring high quality nature shots in your face the minute you walk in. Or maybe it was the variety of packable stadium seats stacked next to children’s sleeping bags. Actually, when I think about it, I’m pretty sure I began feeling a little queasy the minute I got lost in the sea of clothing that always seems to have something I happen to “need,” like joggers (or sweats for those of you not up to date on the latest clothing trends like us foreign missionaries). The endless surplus of goods and consumables makes dizzy my mind and stomach on so many different levels; should I get the night light powered by AAA batteries or the one that is USB-powered? Do I prefer one with motion sensors or one that has to be manually turned on? We went with ones that are powered by an electrical outlet with motion sensor capability and also automatically turn on when the power goes out.
When we first arrived in Kenya a year ago, I thought it was difficult, or rather an inconvenience, that our shopping options were seemingly limited, especially in Kitale. Over the past few months, though, I think I subconsciously grew an appreciation for the simplicity of it all. We are not inundated or burdened with choices; we know what we want and/or need, we take what we can get, and for that we are content. There is no luxury of complaining for us!
I think in the back of my mind I always knew that coming back to the States would be an adjustment despite how many times I told Rheanna I probably wouldn’t experience any type of “reverse” culture shock. I suppose I was too excited for the paved roads, good infrastructure, and lights that magically stay on all night. Oh, and the food - I was definitely excited for the food. While all of those things were pleasant and good, I think we are really appreciating the simpler and slower lifestyle, even by San Diego standards, that we’ve since adopted in Kenya. What’s great about simplicity is that it helps us to be more present and intentional. Being less worried and anxious (for anything) makes room for us to pay more attention to any present company. It’s like living somewhere in the middle of self-awareness and being carefree - not without conviction, however!
In the end, whether we are feeling overwhelmed or prefer to take things a little slower, living within different cultures helps to keep things in perspective and truly allows us to enjoy the moment, any moment. And while it can be overwhelming to figure out which night light to buy at Costco, I’m thankful I can still order a hot dog and a Coke for a buck fifty.