Eat Your Strawberry: Nigeria, Lions & Living in the Moment

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There were a couple of things I wanted to do after graduating high school. One was go to underwater soldering (that word looks nothing like it sounds) school, and roll in the big bucks – the other was to make a difference in the world. I uneducatedly decided to go into the Peace Core. To make a section of a long story shorter, I ended up in Nigeria managing prairie fires – which apparently are a big issue down there.

So… I’m in Nigeria, and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks in a colossal tower in the middle of the middle of nowhere east Jesus – looking at grass. Yes… grass. Lots of it. Everywhere. For miles, and miles, and miles. In the middle of that never ending sea of boring – on this particular day, the grass was irregularly boring me, just swaying pretentiously back and forth like it was trying to make a statement. So I left my little tower to eat my cucumber and mustard sandwich… or whatever. I ventured out into the prairies and found a nice rock surface to eat on top of.

LNT fo’life y’all.

Relaxing on my durable surface, I slipped into a day dream, you know when you kind of forget that you’re in real life? That happened. And I tuned out for a short while– most likely swimming past the occipital lobe, breast stroking through black marmalade towards the cerebellum. The thing that brought me back to reality was the sound. The sound I will never forget. The sound… was a bowel shattering roar.

A ROAR. I cannot say that with enough annunciation on the word. This was no ordinary roar. This roar had weight. The most weighty roar I’ve ever heard. Say it again in your mind, “A ROAR.”

The sound expressed delivered reverberations of terror into my eardrum.

I’m in the middle of Nigeria, in the middle of a prairie, with no one around for miles. When you hear a roar in this setting, you literally shit your pants. I tightened up and resisted this innate feeling. My senses heightened, pupils dilated, muscle fibers oxygenated, adrenaline and cortisol coursing through my veins – I stood and scanned the horizon. Through the eye height grass, I saw movement.  And the grass shaking. Before my mind could even process, the head of a lion emerged.

At this moment, when our eyes met, no words were exchanged. No thoughts ran through our minds. We both knew exactly what was to happen.

I flew! The natural flight or fight response was of course inevitable – like a California condor on crack I flew so hard. Flames followed my feet as I ran faster than the Back To The Future car. I realized, as my mind and body were racing, that my triumphant safety watch tower dingy was much farther away than would be optimal in a situation like this, because optimally, it would be right next to me. So I ran towards a cliff edge that I knew I could climb down. As I approached the cliff, I swiftly turned my head to check up on my lion friend, and I could see it. Not running, not walking, but stalking me, with an ominous intent. I got to the cliff and down climbed fiercefully. When I got about halfway down I looked up, and saw the terrocious lion (terror and ferocious) pacing, back and forth along the cliffs edge. Salivating with hunger.

I figured, what’evs. This lion is a dumb dumb. I’ll just down climb this cliff and get back to my kick-ass watch tower. So I started to follow that course of action, and when I looked down, there was ANOTHER lion at the foot of the cliff. ANOTHER LION! They had cornered me! Communicated like fucking Velociraptors.

So, I decided I would wait them out. Yeah. Wait out a pair of starving lions. After 4 hours and the sun starting to set, the lions were still there. I came to the conclusion that I was probably completely screwed. And then it hit me. It hit me that I would be dieing in the middle of Nigeria, via lion. Something happens to you, when you realize you’re going to die. And right as I approached a literally once in a life time epiphany, I caught the glimpse of something red in the corner of my eye.

I said to myself, “Might as well check it out before I get eaten, by most likely, pure bred lions.”

So I climbed over, grabbed the side of this cliff, pulled myself up, and discovered this beautiful thing laying in a little crevasse, a little nook, a tiny trench, a wee cranny crack.

A strawberry, just precariously growing.  Large, luscious, succulent, strikingly stunning, and beading with dew and glistening in the setting sun. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life and I realized right then, that there was only one thing left for me to do in my life. So…

I reached out my hand…

grasped the strawberry with my fingertips…

plucked it…

and delivered it into my mouth.

And I ate it. It was the best thing I have ever tasted.

If you’re asking yourself what happened next? What happened to the lions!? Did you die!? Well, the moment I enjoyed that monumental strawberry, the lions went away. They just disappeared. I then realized that those lions were not just any lions, and that strawberry was not just any strawberry. The lion above me, pacing back and forth, was an archetypical symbol for my future. All the things in the future that were mere stressors in my life. Everything that was awaiting me. All things distracting me from one thing. The lion below me was everything in my past that bothered me and harassed, distracting me from one thing.

And that one thing was the strawberry.

The strawberry. That moment. The one moment that is incomparable to any other. The strawberry was a symbol for this moment. YOUR moment. The one that is beautiful, surreal, and once in a lifetime. Literally! Once in a lifetime! The eternal joy/bliss mountaintop of existence. It was a sign that you mustn’t be taken off track, or disrupted by the lions in your life, because they are fierce and hugely distracting, and their roars are so easily heard in a sea of dry grass waiting to catch on fire. These lions live to distract you, they were designed to lurk in the prairies, pounce on you and let out booming roars that are only subtracting you from the magnificence that lives in every infinitesimal instant – every tiny cranny nook, that are sometimes hard to find. The only moment that counts is right now.

So live each moment, and if you’re having a bad moment, just look around – maybe you’ll see something beautiful out of the corner of your eye. Always know that around every corner, however unsuspecting it may be, a strawberry awaits your discovery and inevitable consumption.

At least that’s what I’ve been thinking lately, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.

-Jackson

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One thought on “Eat Your Strawberry: Nigeria, Lions & Living in the Moment

  1. Casey Sowul says:

    Hahah… What a crazy ass story! Thanks for sharing, loved it!

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