In the last couple of weeks I’ve now twice been on a bus on the way home from St John’s that has completely diverted from the route it should have been going. This is not an uncommon occurrence in Nairobi, matatus in particular are known for cutting down side roads to avoid the jam but eventually returning to the correct path. The two buses I’m talking about, however, went an entirely different route. Both times we started off on the right road, and I knew we’d finish up at the right destination, but anyone who wanted to get off anywhere along the route (like me) was to be held hostage on the bus in the hope it would turn back from its deviation, or get off and walk far.
The first time, I was completely lost. I had no idea where we were, other than we were going further and further in the wrong direction. Discussion, arguing and shouting with the bus conductor wasn’t much help. A few passengers got off to walk. I stayed on, hoping maybe we’d get somewhere I recognised. We didn’t. In the end, I was sure we’d gone further than I wanted to go, and decided to alight, after a very unhelpful conversation with the conductor who just said there was too much jam and no we weren’t going to return to Argwings Khodek road. I got off, in the pouring rain, and rang Emily ‘Hi Em…Yes I’m ok… Just I’m a little bit lost right now… Could you help me?!’ Between us we figured out where I was and she offered to come pick me up, which I declined – seeing the amount of traffic on the roads, and hopped on another matatu instead. This time taking me back to where I wanted to go.
A couple of weeks later, the same thing happened. Bus took a completely different route. I don’t even know why this time, as there was no rain and no traffic. But I was a bit wiser, and jumped off earlier meaning less of a walk back to the road I needed to be on to pick another vehicle taking me in the right direction.
But while sitting on the bus, heading in completely the wrong direction I realised how little control I had of the situation. Here I was, on a bus with maybe 30 other people all of whom are held hostage until the driver decides to stop or head back onto the right road. He could’ve taken us anywhere, and I was pretty much powerless to do anything about it. I’m maybe making it sound scary, but I don’t mean to – I wasn’t fearing at all, I know it happens a lot here and I knew we’d eventually end up in Kawangware where I could take a bus back to Nairobi if I didn’t get off sooner. I guess I was just contemplating the idea of control and decisions. I can make a decision – to get on a bus, for example – but ultimately countless things could happen that change the direction that decision takes.
Like, organising Emily’s hen do a couple of weeks ago. It should’ve been the perfect afternoon, a chilled picnic in a park, catering for the wide range of people she wanted there. Yet both she and her bridesmaid were sick, it was threatening to rain, mud everywhere and the picnic spot flooded with water. It was still a lovely afternoon, but so many things beyond my control of organising it.
And I’m learning that in the grand scheme of things, the world, life, I have very little control. If I want to be part of making a mark in this world, of bringing change, of doing things…right… I need to give over all control to the only One who does have complete authority, power and control: my Creator. Allow Him to drive and trust that even if it feels like I’m completely lost, heading in a very different direction to the route I would’ve taken – or the world would’ve had me take – trust that if He has complete control over everything, trust that if everything is under His authority and command, then I can’t being going wrong.
Hmm…interesting bus contemplations. Now how to live that out practically…not easy! And that is something for me to ponder on… A blog post for another day.
Another separate side note – it’s stories like this that make me love living here. Although highly irritating – being taken in completely the wrong direction to having to get off and walk in the pouring rain – a part of me loves it too. I love how even a simple thing like taking the regular bus journey home can turn into a mini adventure. Nothing’s ever boring!