Meaningful Experiences In the Modern World

I enjoy walking a great deal, especially in solitude. The cold wind blowing against my face, I close my eyes and let my senses take control as I listen to the music the wind makes as it blows across my ears, the birds chirping, the streams roaring and the leaves and branches dancing making rhythmic sounds with the passing of the wind. It sounds like a choir and the whole of nature is in on it, making me feel a sense of security and serenity. I get covered in this assuring calmness as I absorb everything that goes on around me. At this moment, I am one with nature and nature is one with me.

I don’t get to experience this as often as I would love to but whenever I get the opportunity I jump right at it and don’t look back. It is my interstice where I escape to and have an intimate conversation with God and myself. When I escape into this new reality, I find my peace.

It is sad that we have been engulfed in so many things in this technological age that we live life without living, which is a paradox in itself. As Maria Popova rightly puts it, “today we live in an age where we have commodified our aliveness so much as to mistake making a living for having a life.”  We don’t get to experience or explore what makes our hearts beat but rather hastily rush through life getting small bits of what it means to live. But what does it mean to live life?

Personally, living life is to get lost in the things I love; reading books, walking, hiking, serving others, writing and role playing with my daughter; (I love the part when I play the judge and she models across the living room making a pose at every corner with a straight face) I let my heart melt in the moment as I watch her, so little and so delicate yet full of life and confidence, living every moment with passion. I also enjoy solitude, Wendell Berry writes that,  “in solitude, one’s inner voices become audible and, in consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.”  But as with many other things, too much solitude can be toxic.

It is alarming how, in the modern world, we are losing ourselves in work and other unnecessary things that we forget about leisure, a contemplative activity, and the important role it plays in our lives. Joseph Pieper in his book ‘Leisure, the basis of culture’ writes, “The original meaning of the concept of “leisure” has practically been forgotten in today’s leisure-less culture of “total work”: in order to win our way to a real understanding of leisure, we must confront the contradiction that rises from our overemphasis on that world of work.”

It is high time we slowed down to experience the world around us, engage in Leisure and spend time in solitude. This way we get to make the most out of this world that we live in. I always fall short but my natural longing for the transcendent has always kept me in check as I try to make this part of my life. This is part of my struggle. It won’t always be easy but I’m determined to see it through and I challenge you to do the same.

Written by Kevin Omondi Alando, WYA Africa Regional Director of Operations