Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Whining Before the Ngong Hills

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills." (Out of Africa)
(Photo taken Saturday at home of Karen Blixen, (Isak Dinesen)

I must admit, by Friday afternoon I felt immensely whiny. I know— how could I, after the intense suffering I witnessed all week? I gave this challenging quip a brief nod, and quickly moved on. Remember, I am a work in progress; therefore, I gave my inner brat the floor.

The diatribe my inner brat spewed was incessant well into Friday evening. Exhausted, I fell into bed while she continued to rattle on and on. I really wanted her to shut-up. But just when I thought she had worn herself out, I heard her whisper in my ear, "Hey sister, how about a glass of wine. Good for the soul, huh?"

"What a marvelous idea," I chirped—a crisp sauvignon blanc or a smooth pinot noir! We drank the words in our mouth with silent, delightful ruminations. However, my reverie was quickly broken when my brat raised her head screaming "and where, pray tell, are you going to find wine in this holy place you have us in?"

Yes, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. The walk to and from the hospital every day is 40 minutes each way, a harrowing experience for a woman used to orderly drivers, stop lights with pedestrian flashers indicating who has the right of way, and drivers that, for the most part, obey the laws; for example, stopping when the light is red. The traffic in Nairobi is frenetic at best, outrageously aggressive and disorderly, making the morning and evening jaunt a harrowing experience. In fact, many busy intersections have no traffic lights. Cars—helter-skelter, make crossing any intersection like playing Russian roulette in a game of truth or dare. The locals have it down pat. Unflinching, they step out on to the road, weaving and dodging between cars. Poor Sister Rose, I cling to her like a terrified child. If it is my time to meet my maker, I want to be clinging to a woman who has a free pass to the kingdom! In fact, her relationship with God is so personal that this holy woman has been known to unabashedly give God a few instructions. 

It was on this walk home from the hospital on Friday that the soliloquy of self pity began. I was possessed by a ranting stream of conciousness, “I have had enough! What was I thinking? I am hot, and tired. I want a burger and a beer in an icy cold mug; my sweaty skin has a perpetual film of brown dust that never completely washes off in my trickling shower that, by the way, has water that  smells like brussel sprouts!  The hospital is disgusting, there is no toilet paper anywhere and I forgot to bring a few sheets with me today. Why can't someone bath the little ones and change those outrageously smelly bandages? And why today, when I was already in a bad mood, did they decide to grab my hair with sticky, dirty fingers, rumbling with me like I am a play toy? Not to mention, one kid stuck his snot covered finger directly in to my eye! Surely I am destined to get some ghastly and painful  infection and die, never to see my children again; and for God's sake will you start wearing deodorant again?"

You get the point. We all have these moment.

I have thought long and hard about the time I allowed my inner brat to vent. There is a tension that rolls between, "I want to whine," and, "what the hell do I have to whine about?" It is a guilt trip of epic energy. But, thankfully I found this:

"... good whining can be delicious! And fun! Good whining is the ability to call out the raw truth, express deep feelings, be vulnerable and share with those you love. It is about embracing those inner feelings, coddling them, figuring them out, so you can make them better. It involves allowing yourself to sit with feelings and get out of the, "everything is just fine mode," to be authentic. It takes courage and work to grab your reality, talk about it, and make it right for your own world. Sometimes it means going against the grain and setting yourself up for those who always say, "get over it already!"

Thank you Dr. Keryl McBride!  (

1 comment:

  1. Mary,
    Your writing continues to be amazing, informative and entertaining! This made me laugh out loud and make a ‘yuk’ face a few times! Please do hang on to Sister on all of your journeys so that you return home safely!
    xox, Adri


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