Archives mensuelles : mai 2015

Leaving Abidjan again

This morning, for the umpteenth time in the past 12 months I boarded a flight to leave Ivory Coast. In a week interacting with friends and acquaintances in Abidjan, I realised many haven’t worked out that I no longer live in the city, leaving as I did at the end of 2012, which of course isn’t so long ago. There was a mega-concert by the Belgian artist, Stromae, on Saturday night, a TedX Abidjan event this afternoon (which by accounts on social media seems to have been quite special), and then this next week there will be the annual meetings of the African Development Bank. In short, it looks like exciting times, while I’m missing out on the lot.

Today, it was interesting in this mood to be continuing my reading of Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer biography, and in particular the part where he left a Germany on the verge of World War 2, for the safety of an arranging lectureship in the USA. Almost as soon as he arrived in New York, he realised it had been the wrong move, and that his destiny (life mission) lay back in Germany, despite the very real risks to his life (which proved to be real).

For the pastor Bonhoeffer, at a moment of world historical importance, this was the voice of God calling him back to his mission. I wouldn’t see my situation quite so dramatically, but it’s interesting to compare that feeling of being in the wrong place, and being out of line with a mission. Bonhoeffer’s short second trip to the US was useful in helping to clarify his thinking on his personal mission, and also the global church. And, for me, being away from Abidjan, is part of a process of growing, while seeking to still stay engaged. I think the tricky bit is that latter half – of growing and becoming stronger while not disengaging/losing touch of the movement.

Exercise and tiredness

Looking back on the past seven days I’ve been to the gym twice, jogging three times, swimming once, circuit exercises three times, cycling once, and push ups before bed. It’s possibly a bit too much, though I do enjoy getting out, and much of this is now habit/routine. One worrying thing though is that my jogging performance, particularly at weekends when I try to go a bit farther, is seemingly getting worst. The fact is that I keep stopping for walks.

This is worrying, and I’m trying to work out the issue. It could point to an underlying injury, illness or exhaustion, but I don’t think that’s the case. I get inordinate amounts of sleep, don’t feel twinges, and don’t feel that tired once I’ve immediately recovered from the sport.

It could be that I’m too heavy – that probably is true, though I’m not really much heavier than when I arrived or when I ran the marathon.

I put more store by the fact that it’s incredibly humid at the moment. I come back from runs totally soaked. So even when I walk for sections, I feel like I’ve had a good work out when I get back. My running performance has always felt poor back in Abidjan, where humidity is even higher, while in England I often feel comfortable going for miles because of the cool weather which means you’re sometimes not even sweating.

A fourth possibility though, and the one that worries me the most, is that I’m losing a mental game, and giving up, creating neural pathways to stop running whenever I feel like it, because I’ve done this before. Have I just made it acceptable to give up?

In six months I plan to run a triathlon. I tell myself that’s the last great sporting thing I’ll ever do, so maybe after I’ll really reign the exercise in.

King Leopold’s Ghost

Last week I finally finished Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost, a book that was a must-read when I first flew to Congo in 2005, but which I’ve only recently got around to reading. The remarkable book highlights the outrageous tyranny of King Leopold’s regime in what is now the DR Congo, and the utter savagery of the colonial project there. We forget these things far too easily.

An encouraging part of the book was the role played by Anglo-Saxon Evangelical missionaries in denouncing the abuses, something that is well stated in the main text, while in the end notes the author says that with hindsight he should have given even more prominence to the subject. It’s fair to say that in the secular circles I move in you hear a lot of negative criticism of these sorts of people, and many of the churches here are indeed appalling. But good to know that people of good character were part of the story as well.