Getting back into the flutter and flap of day-to-day life post Nairobi, Kenya is no walk through Amboseli park. When people ask me how my trip to Africa was I often think to myself, “what trip?” I guess I’m not able to put into words my own experience just yet. When I am asked to remember my time in Nairobi, it is like I am being asked to remember the death of someone I loved with all my heart: I immediately light up with joy and than in a split moment, I realize that for now on the only way I can get these sweet moments back are through pictures.
Right now in the mourning process, I have built up a defensive shield that keeps me from acknowledging the unacceptable truth that I am not in Africa anymore and instead sitting on a couch looking at snow (…). I will call this protective barrier my “denial shield.” I’m sure you can relate : It’s just plain easier to negate a major shift and experience in your life than take the time to validate and confirm what you’ve experienced especially when the person asking usually doesn’t have all day/year to hear all the incredible things you experienced with this person, or in my case, place, that you are no longer with.
Honestly, when people ask me how my time in Africa was I automatically think of a wormhole. You know, the old “Einstein-Rosen Bridge” or a “hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would fundamentally be a “shortcut” through spacetime” (aaaaaaaaaathankyou Wikipedia). Africa happened but existed and continues to exist in a different realm/dimension, separate from space and time. I guess I feel this way because it was such a different reality than I am used to back in Chicago.
When I was in Nairobi, I stayed at a hotel situated within a Plaza (an outdoor mall so to speak) where Indian vendors make a living off selling mini wooden Genesh icons and delicious Indian food. Life consisted of the beautiful wake up “call to prayer” from the Mosque next door, bananas and honey for breakfast and then a quick and winding walk up the mall stairs, past the Indian strip club (seriously) to the Shine Center, where I was instantly greeted with hugs, smiles and more hugs from the Africa Yoga Project teachers and volunteers.
Yoga became our universal tongue that reunited us within the studio walls. Positivity and enthusiasm made its way to magic yoga carpets that put the gods back into our feet, and lifted us to a alternate level unattainable on any human plane of existence. The Shine Center became a sacred space situated in this wormhole and yoga was the hierophany, or manifestation of the sacred, that reunited family members from all walks and tongues of life.
As I explore this idea that the Shine Center was a part of a consecrated world unlike any other world I knew back at “home”, I can’t help but flaunt my religious studies feathers for a quick second and remember the 20th c. Romanian historian of Religion, Mircea Eliade’s, concept of religion, “the Sacred & the Profane” and it’s connection to my time in Africa versus my time right now.
There is a chance I might have scared you with this religious studies babel (pun intended) but just give me a chance to explain (I promise I’ll try to make it interesting).
According to my boy Eliade there is Sacred time and then there is Profane time.
The Profane is the realm of everyday “shit I locked myself out of my apartment” bis-nass. The mundane, if you will, occupied by the ordinary bro/chick who sits on his/her couch till 4am and watches reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” as he/she stuffs left-over enchiladas in their mouth and itches their crotch.
The Sacred, on the other hand, is the sphere where everything bad-ass, extraordinary, memorable and momentous occurs. The sphere of the supernatural, where the ancestors you actually wish you met, your greatest heroes and coolest imaginary gods and goddess kick it over refreshing watermelon and chilled cucumber water, splashed with gin.
It is going to take a while for me to understand my time in Nairobi. Honestly, it might take me my whole profane life to answer the question “How was your trip to Africa?” and for a long time I might just answer “what trip?” For now I will leave you with the confusing understanding that my time in Africa was the Sacred in a Wormhole and exists untouched by the mundane, glistening in sacred, extra-ordinary time where the gods and goddess sip on Patron and “High 600” with their multiple extremities.