An African breakfast

January 19th, 2014, 8am

I’ve been thinking a lot of about place, and where we choose to live, and how important that is despite how connected we’ve all become. As a family with roots in South Africa as well as America, this is a constant struggle because both places are amazing in their own right. Over time our discussions have shifted from “where do we want to live?” to “Yes, we can live here, but at what cost?”

If we choose to continue to live in South Africa we’ll have immeasurable beauty and heartbreaking poverty and a nation struggling to keep political head above water. I think about all the ways my daughters’ lives can be enriched in such a troubling yet fertile environment. But there is a cost: high crime rate, not as many schooling and career opportunities, and on and on it goes.

If we choose to move back to America we’ll have again what I miss the most: a people who refuse to believe that some things aren’t possible. I think about the grit my daughters will learn from this — the inherent belief that no problem is unsolvable. But this will also come at a cost: we’ll have to work harder to teach our girls about empathy, and helping others, and how not everyone in the world is as lucky as we are.

We have some tough choices to make.

But sometimes — rarely, but sometimes — we allow our minds to stop pondering all this stuff, and just enjoy where we are. Like this morning, when we went for breakfast and some people just came by and set up 10 Djembes, started playing, and invited everyone to join in. My daughter started banging that drum immediately. I stared at the smile on her face and for a moment I stopped worrying about all the decisions we have to make. In that moment I was just happy that she gets to experience this, here, right now.

So tomorrow we can try to figure out our future again. Today we’ll just be here, in Africa, fully present.

Philippe, Vivien, hope, Rob and 4 others said thanks.

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Rian van der Merwe

Family, design, coffee, and Oxford commas. On Twitter:

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