Waking Up in Kenya with Nietzsche

The fog in my head feels eerily like a hangover but I know that’s impossible because quarantine took away such mornings long ago. The daylight can no longer be ignored so with a bit of indignation I roll out of bed.

It would take too much effort to walk over to the window, so instead I stare at the walls.

Life has become a strange, repeated existence. I had no idea how dull the world could be. Walking to the kitchen, I retrace my steps: choose the coffee, grind the beans, and press a button to signal the start of a new day.

Is it a new day? These repetitive steps all merge together, the same scene played over and over. No longer frustrating, instead replaced by a complacent feeling of comfort. Dull comfort.

Quarantine has caged the animal within.  I stifle a yawn; life is no longer lived enthusiastically, but endured. Millimeter-by-millimeter these four walls close in on me.

I slump to the floor and unconsciously reach for a book nestled under a family of dust bunnies. I turn it over and close my eyes, wishing to fall back into an empty sleep.

A wave of color floods to my face. Not sure if it’s my embarrassment of the mess around my flat or the apathy engulfing my spirit. Based on my pattern of eating, sleeping, and general slothfulness, both would be correct.

Before slinging the book back underneath the shelf, I take a quick glance at the title: Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra stares back asking, “what happened to this person who lived on the edge, recklessly, always reaching higher?” Perfect.

Nietzsche.  One of the few German philosopher I enjoy reading – his ideas mesh with my lust for life. A timely find, and perhaps through Nietzsche’s words I have the chance to escape this quarantine prison. “Become who you are…” I laugh a bit at the thought. 

My mind drifts back to when I was in rhythm with life, in tune with the basic impulses that once sparked human existence. I’m back on the Maasai Mara. Waking up with the sunrise, and the mysteries of the world coming to life. I’m a newborn kid in awe of the unlimited potential at dawn.

Kenya evokes the curiosity of a child at play, savoring the simple beauty of nature. Pieces of the world adults no longer see or experience. A spirit freed from the structure of modern life. 

Nietzsche also saw the wild child as a key piece of his philosophy, the spirit of his Übermensch, the superman, who raged against the colorless and sterile trends of modern society.

“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play…” Nietzsche wrote, the child’s ability to forget quickly and continue moving forward in time. It is the free spirit of the Übermensch, his philosophy tapping into the childlike fearlessness to discover the magic of potential.

The haze outside my window flickers and comes alive; its piercing eyes reflect the wild side of life. Inviting me to attack.

Outside my room, the Maasai Mara glows, reminding me we are born to play, to race, and fiercely compete with ourselves. Creating friction in life to stir up the soul, and here in Kenya there is a cauldron of emotions I’ve long forgotten. 

Inside my room, however, there is decadence: TV reruns, day-old pizza, an unmade bed with empty cartons of Ben & Jerry’s scattered around ~ all slices of self-destruction further sucking me into contentment, a place my free spirit fled months ago.

Inside. Outside. Black. White.

It is a little humorous. Here I am, wrapped up on the couch, comfortable in this cocoon of safety with all this technology insulating my life. Everything is a tap away on my iPhone. 

And outside a wilderness is calling. 

I reach over and pick up the book again. 

The human spirit is a complex one, a dichotomy of two desires.

  • The first desire is of order and structure, necessary to build a world where humans and technology merge, advancing society.
  • The second is a competing desire, the undeniable urge for chaos, a place where genius and creativity is born.

When one is absent, there is an imbalance and the soul is thrown into turmoil.

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star…” an ode to the necessity of exploring the forbidden in order to find brilliance.

In the Nietzschean world, it is the struggle between the Apollonian spirit of order and Dionysian spirit of chaos, and this year the Apollonian (confined spirit) is crushing the Dionysian (free spirit) ~ and it isn’t even close. 

Like an unhindered animal in nature, the spirit must be allowed to run free. 

The winds of Kenya break my thought, carrying spices of new experiences announcing the arrival of chaos, a migration to search and discover. 

The pieces of electricity we create define who we are, whether it’s living in foreign worlds or raising children and experiencing the world again from their perspective. 

Moments of bliss that move us up a higher level and remind us never stop seeking.     

Out on the Mara plains, I see the curious eyes of chaos staring back. Taunting me with the playful knowledge that this bizarre year is no reason to give in to indifference.

The beauty of Kenya taught my soul long ago to “become who you are…” and made me realize I am not at war with the world but instead searching for peace.

While my coffee grows cold, I get up and search for something clean to wear. I’ve been stuck in the mud too long. My Dionysian free spirit has returned with new dreams and I’m ready to tread on the edge of the void. 

Nietzsche and Kenya blend well together, and I’m wide awake. I slip on my shoes and prepare to step back into this brave new world. 

I place the book back on the shelf and hear the laughter of Nietzsche, his famous words pushing me out the door: “What does not kill you, makes you stronger…” 

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And
you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll
decide where to go.

– Dr. Seuss

175 Comments on “Waking Up in Kenya with Nietzsche

    • Thank you very much, Chantelle. And I fully agree ~ go Kenya, go Africa, can hardly wait to return 🙂

  1. I’ve been thinking during this pandemic about how lucky we are to have this creative outlet for our doubts and wonders and uncertainties and the marvelousness of being able to connect with each other in these vulnerabilities while we’re not able to be with many (or perhaps any) of our loved ones. It’s a gift I’m cherishing. May the new year continue to bring you comfort in your reading, in your surroundings, and in your writing.

    • Thank you, Atreyee. It really is nice to be able to have a creative outlet that not only allows us to express what marvels us (or wraps us in doubt), but to also share with others – sometimes I take for granted how incredible this medium can be. Wishing you well on your adventures and moving through this strange time we are living. Take care ~

  2. Deeply moving and inspiring. What I like most is the sense of abandon and vastness the images reflect. May you reclaim your mojo!

    • Thank you, Sidran. It never ceases to amaze how much beautiful diversity is out there, and to be able to reflect on it all during these times is one of the silver linings of restricted travel. Make us appreciate the brilliance of others as well as finding new ideas and new flames within us to make lives special. Cheers to great days ahead!

  3. It needs some drastic change of willpower
    For someone who feels it takes too much effort to walk over to the window
    To go out and venture 🍸

    • 🙂 Yes, it does! And what also helps so much is music ~ I think the proper music can get me to do anything. 🙂 Wishing you well, and to a great finish to 2021. Take care

  4. Hi Randall, I am late to the party here, but no matter- your storytelling with words and images bring me a moment of escape and calm. Many thoughts hit home but I love the notion that in every human there is the desire to play. The core belief as an early childhood educator. And the dichotomy of chaos and order in our lives and how we manage it. Your images are beautifully shot and bring me back to moments of freedom and joy. Warm wishes to you for a better year ahead filled with creativity, good health and happiness.

    • The desire to play is something we should never let go, and sometimes I wonder as adults if this is often one of the first casualties of maturity. As adults we need to be responsible and create order within the world, but also understanding the chaos of play and nature gives us wisdom beyond rigid rules of responsibility and brings us balance. We need such chaos to be able to see the beauty in such things as a rusted guardrail along a road 🙂

      • So true about play, Randall. We all could use some balance these days. And yes, even in the beauty of a guardrail. 😉

  5. Your fabulous words and pictures have set us all free to roam to a place my feet have never taken. Please tell us more.
    Best wishes for a great New Year, Charlotte

    • Thank you very much, Charlotte, and wishing you a continued wonderful and memorable year for you.

  6. Those that want to control the persons what fear the most is the heart, hope, dreams and mind, as they can fly despite our physical restrains, it was nice to fly along you in these images, a double exposure with the image set in your flat, and the other with rich tints and limitless horizons : )

    • Wonderful comment, Francis, and I think at times in life we are all faced with something in life where fear drains us of hopes and dreams ~ and there is not a better feeling then when we stretch our mind and heart and soar above it all as you describe. Any day can be the greatest one yet, all we need to do is believe and do 🙂 Enjoy your autumn ~

      • Thank you, Randall. I can relate much to that tension with fear and immobility. I will believe : ) Wishing you a lovely Autumn too, here, in our upside down world, we are in spring, I don’t say it as a correction, just as I appreciate you to talk you with truth in my words.

      • Yes, you are entering spring, the wonderful rebirth of nature 🙂 Hope you have some special times ~ take care, Francis.

  7. It is a month since you wrote this, Randall, and I hope you feel the ground under your feet again. To be confined to four walls is a challenge that requires a lot of will power. It is where I rely on my Apollonian spirit, and wish it was stronger. Kenya and your amazing photographs represent the very opposite of quarantine, and my Wild Child is yearning for freedom. Stay safe, and have a Happy New year wherever you are these days.

    • It has been a strange year, but fortunately a good one as well, Inese, thank you very much. The restriction over the past 18 months are still taking a lot of getting use to, but it also has provided opportunities to find the special silver-linings of these days. For me this is a perfect recipe to lean on the wild-child and see what’s new to be discovered… although would like a bit more normalcy to the day. Wishing you well, and hope you have a great autumn ahead.

  8. Life has indeed been strange lately. Not much adventures. As you I have look for it in the literature, but maybe I should look up Nietzsche. It’s been decades now since I read him. Thank you for an inspiring post and wonderful images from Kenya.

    • Thank you, Otto. One of the benefits of these days is while there are fewer opportunities in traveling to find adventures, I now find some incredible ones in the books I read 🙂 However, I do look forward to tracking dirt around the globe soon. Wishing you well ~

  9. each photograph whispers a story all it’s own,
    i always feel your photographs as much as see them,
    Hope all is well in your world… life has been crazier than usual
    Thank You, you took me to another place tonight, it was a welcome change 🙂
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • Thank you, Mary, thinking back on when I was taking these photos I was lost in the simple beauty of the world. These days, amid all the craziness we’ve been experiencing globally, it is always nice to sit back and reflect on the stories and experiences of the past which make the present and future that much more interesting. Wishing you well as we move into autumn 🙂

  10. How wonderful, and how untrue, this last part about being able to go where we want. We’ve been limited to our tiny municipality here in Tuscany. And yet – we’ve got the sea, the medieval town on the hill, a nature reserve right here, but I’ve succumbed to dull comfort. And I read stuff and watch stuff and listen to stuff right here at home while outside the spring is being born. It could be the last one too. Just in time, this post. Hope you’re well, no more posts after this…

    • Ha, yes you are quite correct with the misleading statement about how we are free to wherever we choose 🙂 However, Manja, I had to admit being limited to stay in Tuscany would not be too bad at all ~ why would you ever want to leave 🙂 But yes, I like very much how you picked up on succumbing to dull comfort – we need to be out in the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) exploring, working up a sweat, and getting into what life’s about! Things are looking up, and it is great to be able to venture a bit more these days. Wish you well and take care as you enjoy autumn.

  11. Dear Randall, Become who you are ………. a simple sentence, yet so hard ……… your wonderful nature photos as well as the animals do not think about such things, they are simple, they live in the rhythm of nature …………. they have a lot ahead of us, more than we might think. A wonderful journey and thank you, I wish you a hopeful spring. Greetings Ariane

    • So very true, especially in the world we live in today that keeps telling us to be or do something else, often through multi-media and the “Instagram – snapshot” lifestyle that seems to dictate the way a life should be lived. In a sense, this global pandemic gives us a moment to reassess not just the world we live in, but ourselves and how we should be living ~ bit of a sliver-lining in this age of restrictions. And how I do love your thought that living within the rhythm of nature there is a lot ahead of us than we think. Wishing you brighter and wonderful days ahead for you, Ariane, and thank you. Take care!

  12. Hey, it’s been a while ago that I read your blog post. Happy to read your post again and to see your beautiful images. Humans are indeed complex if only their spirit can be divided into a dichotomy of two desires 😉 Hope you are doing well.

    • It is so great to hear from you, Indah. Things are going well, I’m bouncing between the States and Czech these days, and always dealing with the dichotomy of these two desires ~ makes life pretty interesting, Wish you a great start to autumn and take care.

  13. Hope you are feeling better. I fell into a funk in the pandemic. Right when I became fully vaccinated I started crying straight for a month, hysterical crying, just can’t take it anymore crying. Realized it’s still going to take time to get back into the swing of things. Got a shrink and doing better. Quarantining with a bunch of people that aren’t normally my crowd is rough. I’m still struggling so I set little goals like walking 5 miles a day to be ready for when we can finally get back out there. This post is very comforting to me because a lot of the people I’m around don’t understand why I’m going crazy which made me feel crazier but all they do is stay home precovid so… Your pics are lovely! As they always are 🙂 Are you back in Prague? Can’t remember where you moved. We hope to go to Tofino this winter if the border stays open. Pretty sure PNW will set me straight again, that place is heaven for me.

    • The next time you are out in the PNW, please let me know as I agree with you fully – it is heaven and can only set you straight 🙂 I spent a couple months back in the PNW, and it was perfect before flying back to Czech last week. It also allowed me to be able to reflect on this year, and while last year was tough we were buoyed by the fact that this was all new and we were in it together – but this year tensions are intense. My spirit was really zapped with restrictions, but I was lucky because I had space (mountains in Czech or the PNW outside my door)… and for that I’m forever grateful. You grabbed exactly what was at the heart of this post, being smothered by the four walls, stymied at any attempt for freedom… and really nothing to do but phone it in 🙂 Great for you to take walks and hiking for the day when you are set free ~ I’m an optimist and it is just around the corner. Cheers to you, Andrea, and thank you very much for the comment. Wishing you and Victor a wonderful and healthy autumn and beyond.

      • PNW has been delayed to 2022. Our flight to Victoria got cancelled twice, when we tried to book to Vancouver the price for the cheap seat was so expensive, and the Seattle-Victoria ferry has been suspended till March 2022 – all the signs were bad. Another blogger, Travel Gourmand (she’s living in Lisbon at the moment, she follows your blog too) and I emailed her last night to see if it’s ok to travel there since we now have a whole week off since cancelling Canada. We met her in Seattle in 2018, we all just missed you. Think you moved to Czech around then. If we end up going to Lisbon to meet Allison, we’ll let you know. Maybe we can have a tiny blogger meet up in Lisbon before year end. Things are getting better, I’m finally feeling much better. The more “normal” things get the better I feel. We still wear masks in crowds and keep our hands clean. Vic got his booster and I’m due soon so that makes me want to fly somewhere really bad. Have a fun Autumn! Happy Halloween! This years Halloween will be much more fun than last years.

      • Yes, I remember you coming through Seattle when I was in Czech. It would be great to meet up in Lisbon, that would be something. Good too that you are seeing things getting somewhat back to normal. Seems that travel is more of a reality now than it has been at any time the past couple years! Cheers ~

  14. Hello Randall,
    It has been quite some time since your last post, and I just wanted to drop in and say hello. I hope you and your dear ones are continuing to stay well and healthy.

    All best from Japan,

    • Thank you, Takami. Things are going well, and wishing you and yours the best ~ a happy and healthy autumn ahead to explore 🙂

  15. Randall, with your every word, I related. We are on the cusp of a New World birthing but before that happens we all must die to what we have known life to be. And in the death throes, not only do we die but all in this world that is not aligned to Natural Law of ONE. I am just now re-discovering my wild child yet despite this, the “energies” of this world, which we are all connected to and I feel, pull at me some days which have me numbing out in front of the TV. This Journey is not an easy one. The more we focus our energy into that of our heart’s desires and our soul’s purpose, the more the insanity and evils of this world will fade and in it’s place will be peace. Flow. Love. And a NEW way of seeing life. I can only encourage you as you find yourself once again, for you and you alone travel the “unknown” and the “inward” alone. Much love to you! xo

    • What a beautiful words, Amy, and yes there is so much beauty out there and nothing quite like going out and just absorbing it all in. And when necessary to sequester inside, enjoy those moments too 🙂 As you know well, there is nothing like allowing ourselves the freedom to explore and take it all the good around us (nature, family, friends, and those great strangers we meet along the way). Wishing you continues happiness is finding the wonders of autumn and world as we step further into this brave New World. 🙂 Thank you very much and take care as you explore too!

  16. What a spectacular post! An ode to the splendour of Africa juxtaposed against human angst and endurance in these difficult times. Love every image and word Randall. The moody opening frame and the lone cheetah bathed in golden light are standouts. We’ve all been stuck in the mud way too long. Wonder when we’ll be able to venture out with abandon again.

    • Thank you, Madhu. I enjoyed writing this post because it did take me back to Kenya in my mind ~ such a different feeling of the freedom at that time versus what we’ve been through. Being on the plains of the Maasai Mara at dawn and dusk gave lighting I had only dreamt about before 🙂 Wishing you well and sure look forward to being able to travel freely again. Take care ~

  17. What lovely reflections of how life is nowadays. And as usual such beautiful photos.

    • Africa offered such switch in my mind – never felt more comfortable and wrapped up in a place during any travels than when in Kenya. I hope you get the opportunity – stunning place.

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