Over the holidays, I read a book that had been on my To Read List for a long time. Out of Africa is a heartfelt portray of life in the continent. I really enjoyed reading it, but I have to say that it left me with a bitter taste towards the end. On the last chapter, the author poses the following realization:
“I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine (…) Circumstances can have a motive force by which they bring about events without aid of human imagination or apprehension(…) On such occasions you yourself keep in touch with what is going on by attentively following it from moment to moment.(…) Things are happening to you, and you feel them happening, but except for this one fact, you have no connection with them, and no key to the cause or meaning of them. The performing wild animals in a circus go through their programme, I believe, in that same way.”
Reading this thought, on the very last day of 2017, inevitably, made me look back on my life. “It is true,” I thought. There is so many times when life just happens to us. We don’t ask for it, we don’t look for it, but we find ourselves in circumstances, and scenarios that are completely out of our hands. However, the despondent tone of this belief left me uneasy. It felt to me, that by comparing humans to circus animals, Blixen diminished the sense of our lives, which were hence reduced to foolish, incomprehensible doodles.
I like to think that instead of taking a step back, and letting things just happen, we can always do something about it. Maybe it will only be to accept the situation as our own, or to actually come to want it, in such a way, that we may not be causing it or looking for it, but we will grant a meaning to it all. And by doing so, we become again the authors of our own lives, as opposed to have our stories blindly determined by external conditions. My advise, when such moment comes? Accept it, ponder the options, chose with the utmost inner freedom, act in consequence, and have a little faith, that will always prove to be a comforting tool.