Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Trying to get my head and heart together back in Indy after two weeks in Kenya

The Great Rift Valley takes my breath away even today. This was the
backdrop of much of our 600-mile cycling tour of Kenya this month.

It's been a whirlwind of a month, so far; like no May I've ever experienced. I return from two weeks of riding a bicycle through Kenya and move right into the last week of May in Indianapolis--always a week packed full of compelling opportunities surrounding the Indianapolis 500, a week in which our city shines.

While I will take in Indy's festivities, my mind and emotions are still processing what I experienced in Africa. The juxtaposition of these two settings--the slow, wild, natural life and beauty of the Great Rift Valley and the fast, intense, sophisticated pageantry and technology of the Indianapolis 500--could make for some interesting connections and insights over the next week or so.

One day I'm pedaling along roadways with goats, donkeys and cattle standing nearby and children yelling "Jambo!" to get my attention and hilly terrain testing whatever stamina and power I have left in my legs and everything is advertised and spoken in Swahili--all but incomprehensible to me. The next day I'm landing in Chicago and speeding along a 12-lane interstate highway and stopping at a sleek fast-food franchise and passing endless fields of hybrid corn and setting my baggage down on the floor of a place I call home. One day I'm walking along a potholed street with matatu cronies calling out for my attention and engulfed in the smell of wood-fired cooking and garbage and mud. The next day I'm inside my well-designed, manicured neighborhood and taking in the smell of late-spring flowers and the visual impact of a slowly-setting sun through the leaves of our many backyard trees.

Atop the highest point in Hell's Gate National Park near
Naivasha. We rode our bikes with Zebra and Giraffe
crossing the road right in front of us and with warthogs,
gazelle, and impala grazing leisurely all around. 
A few miles away, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a hub of activity in anticipation of Sunday's annual extravaganza--"the greatest spectacle in racing." The highest technology in automobile engineering is on display and will be on the line as 33 Indy cars prepare to sail around the 2.5-mile oval at 220+ mph in front of 250,000 spectators.  But my mind is thousands of miles from this reality at the moment.  I am thinking of the young men I saw running along the side of the road near Eldoret--those elite runners from the Kalenjin tribe who have dominated international long-distance running for the past 30 years.  Simplicity. Singularity. Prowess. Patience. Power. Perseverance.

Orientation. Disorientation. Reorientation. My head and heart are spinning a bit in these few hours and days back in Indianapolis from Kenya. For all the swirl of emotions and clash of cultures that tug at my heart, I hope the agitation continues for quite some time. I appreciate and somewhat enjoy the creative mix.

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