Today Kenneth and I went to do some yoga with Dr. Babkis, one of the anesthesiologists here. Talk about a guy with a crazy life story. At age 24, while still in the process of completing his medical training in Russia, Dr. Babkis traveled to India after his interest was piqued by his yoga guru’s discussion of panchakarma. After spending a few years living in a Hare Krishna commune, Dr. Babkis returned to Russia to finish medical training and eventually, on a friend’s advice, picked up and moved to South Africa. After an hour and a half long yoga session with Dr. Babkis, Kenneth and I were both refreshed (because of the yoga) and amazed (because of Dr. Babkis). Later this evening, we started discussing how crazy one would have to be to live that kind of story.
I think Kenneth hit it right on the head when he said that the difference between them and us (them being the fantastically cool people we’ve met here, like the two Dutch guys who road-tripped down to South Africa over twenty-two months for the World Cup and us being, well, us boring Americans) is that they don’t have the same fear of the unknown. As Americans, we’re trained to be so fearful of that which we have not been taught, and so compliant with that which we have, that we lose our ability to sniff out these magnificent adventures for ourselves. We’ve lost that passion for all things unseen that propelled history’s great innovators towards the unthinkable—electricity, universal suffrage, rock-and-roll. Without that zest for life, we cannot expect to become leaders who inspire real devotion in others. For me, this summer has been about becoming willing to take that seemingly crazy first step into the unknown, for darkness ahead does not necessarily imply an abyss beneath.