About three years ago, when I created and launched an online magazine, I moved to Sioux Falls, S.D. because I thought the state’s largest city was a better base for the venture than Brookings, where I had been living. However, three days, I was still working at my non-profit job 50 miles north on I-29. So, I became a commuter.
My mornings were very structured and routine. I woke up around 6:20, jumped in the shower, dressed and shuffled into my 2003 Pontiac GrandAm. As I weaved in and out of traffic to make from my downtown apartment to the Interstate, I gobbled down wheat toast with peanut butter and coffee in my Minneapolis Star Tribune travel mug. “This American Life” or Morning Edition with Renee Montage and Steve Inskeep guided my trip. Not quite 60 minutes later, I arrived at my office on Medary Avenue and began the workday.
In Lesotho, I am lucky that I live about a 10-minute walk from the school. I say lucky because some volunteers have to walk an hour or two to their work areas. Mine is just a short trip through the village.
I wake up around 6 a.m., depending on the time of year – when summer is back on I will get up an hour earlier to run. After my contacts are in, I turn on the stove to boil water and then the radio for BBC. Once dressed, I sit down to enjoy my breakfast, usually fruit or oatmeal with coffee or black tea, while reading through my Google Reader. After a year of rushed mornings, I make myself enjoy these. I sip my tea slowly and go through each updated blog post, which include friends from home, Peace Corps friends and random runners, and I refuse to get up from chair until I have finished both. If I am late, I am late.
I usually go to school around 7 a.m. so that I can open the library for students to use during morning study. The students are supposed to arrive at that time and study for 45 minutes before morning assembly, but not many do. The library is a quiet place for the few that want to actually study.
At that hour, the village is still relatively quiet. I pass a few huts heating up papa from last night for breakfast and greet the bo-‘m’e. I also see a few children dressed in their uniforms beginning their walk to school in other villages. Mostly, it’s just me and the birds who are ready to be present in the day.
The sun is exquisite. It’s halfway up the sky, emitting soft yellow with a dash of a orange rays behind the mountains. It peaks through the clouds and adds shape to the mountains. It always reassures me that life is pretty wonderful if only for it.
I get to the school, unlock a few buildings, plug in my electronics and begin the day. It’s a small walk that could be meaningless in the grand scheme of 24 hours, but its 10-quiet minutes when I can take in the village for what it is. It’s my meditation. My prayer. It’s my morning routine.