Monday, October 15, 2007

a stone, the sky and a few books

One month back in country and I find myself struggling to reengage with my previously mentioned business of not seeming. I wish I could say it was an easy transition and, after a restful break, I was back to my ‘new’ self. But of course change is never that easy, so I am left struggling. Maybe I am reacting to the fact that I find most things interesting and everything else either profoundly touching or completely overwhelming.

First of all I have moved. From my old home Gbarnga, where I was know by many and called Gomah, I have transitioned father into the interior to Voinjama and have been gifted the name Garmai (Ga-my). A beautiful county nested on the border with Guinea, Lofa is likely the Colorado of Liberia. Rolling hills, lush green forests, rumors of a few wild elephants and slightly cooler temperatures suggests it’s a much better fit for a girl like me.

Since my recent move from to Lofa county, I have spent most my days trying to be helpful and profoundly inspiring. This quest is so I can impress my very intelligent and very passionate group of counselors. When I’m not attempting that, I can be found sitting around wishing I had my hammock.

I used to love to be occupied. If life wasn’t hectic I felt like I was being lazy but now chaos seems like an escape from the realty this community faces and I doubt I will find all the excitement of being busy satisfying again. My life, for reasons beyond my control, has been pared down to the simplest human elements – life & death, wakefulness & sleep, suffering & enlightenment, hunger & satisfaction, enjoyment & torture…. Dichotomies of extremes, there is no masking or shades of grey here - it is both refreshing and exquisitely frightening.

An example of the simplicity of it all can be given with the stone that sits here on my desk. A grey stone cut in half by a vein of white. It took me most of Saturday to find it. Many stones were rejected first. I didn’t set out into my neighborhood with a particular idea of the stone in my mind, I just thought I’d recognize it when I found it. As I searched I developed certain requirements. It had to fit comfortable in my hand, preferable gray and be smooth (a soothing stone of sorts for those who know of my college collection). So that was my day, yes my entire Saturday. I spent Sunday recovering.

It wasn’t always like this. It used to be that a day was worthless to me if I hadn’t produced a certain amount of work. That I noticed or didn’t notice the guard’s new shirt, the fruit on the trees, the long collective yet silent journey of the women heading to market – these things were beside the point. But that’s changed now.

In a few weeks I will be living alone. Sharon has left and Andre will be completing his fellowship, but that doesn’t bother me. Or maybe just a little but I know no one could replace Sharon so I accept the loneliness as a respectful gesture of the profound impact she had on me and although Andre’s presence has been refreshing and inspirational, he too needs to go - his own journey is calling him and there is much to be done. At the end of the day it would take an unusual individual to keep me company, remarkable they both managed. I hope I’m not making any of this sound bad. I’m only back one month and I am already fishing for sympathy.

If you wonder what it is I do or see while lying in the hammock I would say I either read or watch the clouds in the sky. Both of which I tend to experience almost unbearably beautiful. What I read touches me because most of the stories are so unlike my current reality. What I see in the sky touches me because I can’t believe it actually is my current reality. That’s what I do watch the clouds and read. Sometimes I even pretend to write and post it on this silly blog site of mine. I know I’m not fooling anyone but I find it almost unbearable touching that you are taking the time to read this right now. Enough of me. Please somebody… send me something to think about.

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