Between my junior and senior year of high school, I spent three months in Ghana as an exchange student, living with a family. Toward the end of my trip, we visited the home village of my family. One day we went on a hike and ate sugar cane along the way. Basically you strip the outer skin away and chew on the pulp. It’s like munching on really tasty wood.
Because we were hiking and eating sugar, we were thirsty. Because this was a remote village, we grabbed some water from a rain barrel. That was a bad choice. I developed some major digestive issues and also contracted malaria somehow. Thought it was from drinking the water, but my Google search says malaria can only be contracted through a mosquito bite, not water. Regardless, bad choice.
What I remember is that I was very sick for a couple weeks. When we went to the hospital and I was brought to the front of a long line waiting for care. The only reason I got to go to the head of the line was having a lighter color skin. I felt bad about all the people waiting who were also sick and also needing medical care. Having malaria also eliminates your ability to ever donate blood, in case you were wondering.
As I was getting better, I ate some rice. I thought it was going to stay down, but it didn’t. I ran to the outhouse, blasted through a door that was cracked open, and threw up —- all over a little girl going to the bathroom. I wonder how many years of therapy she had to go through.
We were watching a TV series and one of the actors said, “It’s hard to measure almost.” Not sure why this story from Ghana came to mind, but I almost didn’t drink the water. I almost waited in the hospital line. I almost picked the right bathroom stall. It’s hard to measure almost.
We can spend our lives bumping into “shouldas” and “almosts.” I shoulda taken that job. I almost went on this trip. I shoulda looked both ways at the intersection. I almost took the time to call that friend.
May our bad choices lead to learning and to choosing the right doors.