Tag Archives: Mali

Stable Instability

“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”  ― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

There are allusions throughout the novel that emphasize how finite life really is despite the illusion of everlasting. When I first stumbled upon Paul Bowles’ novel The Sheltering Sky on the bottom shelf of an office coffee table in the bustling city of Kumasi, Ghana, I had no idea that I would embark on a mental journey through the (Sahara) desert of life and find myself strangely, maybe very strangely, identifying with the characters.

Spoiler alert for anyone interested in reading the book…  The story takes place after WWII in French West Africa. Two American travelers and one tourist find themselves journeying across the Sahara from Algiers, not knowing how long they will stay in each city, acting as if time does not exist. Continue reading “Stable Instability” »

The Inevitable Sadness

"I saw all those people at the bus stops in London waiting to go to work. I'd rather take my chance in Africa again than have to go to work every day by bus" - Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, 'The Last King of Scotland' by Giles Foden

“I saw all those people at the bus stops in London waiting to go to work. I’d rather take my chance in Africa again than have to go to work every day by bus” – Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, ‘The Last King of Scotland’ by Giles Foden

Our plane almost went down over the Sahara as we flew from Ghana to London. Just after the flight attendants had went through the cabin serving tea and coffee the aircraft experienced massive turbulence somewhere over Mali. Jolting up and down and from side to side we gripped our arm rests and held our breath. People all around us were gasping and spilling tea, throwing up into bags. Out of the hundreds of flights I had been on this was by far the most extreme turbulence. Outside looked like a sandstorm, the clouds rustic tinted from the massive desert below. Mark looked at me and said, “Is this the end?”  Continue reading “The Inevitable Sadness” »