In my more reflective moments I wonder why I am here. What makes an ordinary middle-aged guy leave his family behind and go spend months in Africa? (Please understand that there is no value judgment here. "Africa" is not "bad" and "Denver" is "good". "Africa" is just so different from "Denver".)
A passage from Anathem by Neal Stephenson seems to explain some of the motivation:
So I looked at those people in their mobes, and tried to fathom what it would be like. Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down in to jobs that were the same every day, in organizations where people were interchangeable parts. All of the story had been bled out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy. But it would be easy to see a will at work behind this: not exactly an evil will, but a selfish will. The people who'd made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day's end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn't live without story had been driven into the concents or into jobs like Yul's. All others had to look somewhere outside of work for a feeling that they were part of a story, which I guessed was why Saeculars were so concerned with sports, and with religion. How else could you see yourself as part of an adventure? Something with a beginning, middle, and end in which you played a significant part? We avout had it ready-made because we were a part of this project of learning new things. Even if it didn't always move fast enough for people like Jesry, it did move. You could tell where you were and what you were doing in that story. Yul got all this for free by living his stories from day to day, and the only drawback was that the world held his stories to be of small account. Perhaps that was why he felt such a compulsion to tell them, not just about his own exploits in the wilderness, but those of his mentors.
So I'm here trying to come up with stories to tell around the campfire. (And boring all of you with them through the Internet.)