Of all the oxymorons I’ve come across, and I have come across a good many of these meaninglessly meaningful phrases, this one right here just riles me in the most unknown fashion. I picture David Livingstone, penning a letter to Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria “Your Majesty, after months of trekking through the treacherous terrain along the winding Zambezi River, I have found nestled amid this expanse of nothing, ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by Angels in their flight’. Mosi-Oa-Tunya to the natives, I hereby christen it Victoria Falls in your honor.”
I imagine that if I was looking over John Hanning Speke’s shoulder one evening before dusk, I’d read on the scribble of his quil, the words “Days had turned into months of endless footslogging, with nothing but nothingness in sight. I’d grown weary from the pain in my body and the nagging in my heart, that perhaps there was no crown to be discovered in this midpoint of nowhere. Suddenly, I turned a corner, and beheld with my cloudy eyes ‘a vast expanse of pale blue waters’. Nalubaale to the natives, I christen her Lake Victoria in honor of the crown.”
Ok, these guys probably had to wait months to announce in person their christened landmarks, but I imagine that Vasco da Gama, Christopher Colombus and all other explorers from back then were swayed and then wowed speechless by the gems they did discover.
Is it just me, or did all them explorers have really fabulous names? Like their folks just saw in their baby eyes, the destiny of discovery. But I’ll admire their names and mean feats later, right now I want to be mad at them. Walking around renaming features, in total disregard of the natives’ perfectly logical names! Whacking mosquitoes around the campfire, marveling at the gems that sprouted as if by magic from within the very apex of nowhere. The nerve! Like if it was nowhere, how did they know it was the middle of it?
Often, I wonder about this middle of nowhere. How desolate it must feel. Having everyone look disdainfully upon it, wrinkling their superior noses in total disbelief of the sorry sight before them. Staying a while, albeit with crushing reluctance because night has fallen. Tossing and turning all night mapping the course of their journey from this point. And then rising at the break of dawn to beat a hasty departure.
Easy enough to leave the middle of nowhere if it’s a place you are visiting. But what if you are the middle of nowhere? What if you are the spot that etches no impression in the minds of travelers? What if everyone soon leaves, swiftly forgets you? You started out with great promise, but somewhere along the way, you got stuck in the rut of complacency and before you knew it, you’d become a lone swathe of lacklusterness. What then?
Could you perhaps rebrand? Nalubaale was a water body, but it claimed a spot on the map when it became Victoria. Not to say we should go ditching our name. I mean, nothing actually changed about the lake. It was just as magnificent as Nalubaale. But John Speke took credit for discovering a lake whose existence the natives had known about for forever!
So maybe the problem isn’t the lack of greatness in you. Maybe, just maybe, everyone fails to see beyond the vast nothingness you project, because you fail to make them see the awesome pearl you are hiding. And guess what? John Speke isn’t coming around to discover you, so get up and be a landmark already! Besides, do you really want someone else taking credit for discovering in you, what you’ve always known you had?