Tuesday, December 30, 2008

indroducing leon

a personification of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone (aka, Leon) is a slim yet muscular fisherman with ebony skin and a knack for keeping a beat. After years of pulling in his family’s wooden fishing boat and massive net, he naturally positions himself in such a way that he is standing at a slight tilt. The most obvious place this can be seen is when he is pulling in his boat each night; but, if one looks closely enough one will notice that it can also be seen in other places. It can be seen when Leon is standing near a wall at a street corner hustling to sell his caught fish and it can be seen at a local club where he is flirting with Amadu, his childhood sweetheart. It can also be seen in his bed where he sleeps at an angle across his mattress dreaming of one of three things: crashing waves, far off lands he has only seen in books or the above referenced girl of his dreams. One peak at the coastline of Sierra Leone will give you many examples of the groups of people it takes to accomplish the task of bringing in small fishing boats on this West African coastline. In each snapshot a group of individuals will be captured slowing moving backwards at an identical lean dancing with the ocean and its endless give and take momentum.

Now, even though Leon knows little else than his duty to send his boat off in the morning and bring it back at night and he endures moments where he longs for something more, he does not regret his position in life and has learned that if he lives his life completely and with happiness, good things will come his way. He misses his parents, both lost to him during the war, but he has found safety and love in his aunties home and with time many of his experienced emotional wounds from the war have healed to a tolerable point. His parents would be proud to learn that Leon is well respected by his friends and appreciated by his team. In addition to taking pride in his ability to mend strong nets he can also create the most enchanting of beats in which his team collectively moves to in order to get the job done. It’s a unique blend of sounds, one of words, clicks and whistles, and yet it seems to be the perfect sound for the task at hand. A sound that was likely created centuries ago, on the day man decided to dance with the waves; a sound that was handed to him on the day he rightfully earned it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

drying off words

For those of you who have noticed, there has been a bit of a pause in my writing. For those of you who know me, likely understand why. The loss of my mother has been the most difficult thing I have had to deal with in my life to date and for the last couple of weeks I have lived in two states. Numbing pain from the thought of what has occurred and unconsciousness from this felt pain, only granted to me in sleep. As a result, I have been sleeping a lot.

Rather than examine what this feels like, I will try and move on as I believe that on some primal level every human being on this planet is aware parent loss is painful. This post is my attempt to continue something I loved to do before I lost her. I learned much from those who have come to our side in support. Those that have experienced similar losses have empathized with me in the most genuine of ways that even today I am moved deeply by some of these heart felt expressions. Those of you who knew her well shared such touching memories about her that I guarantee you will likely be hearing from me again as I am a sucker for the “retell” and I will want (and possibly need) to hear these stories again at a later date.

The delay in my writing seems to have been tied to a few things. One, with the loss of my mother came the loss of my most loyal, most unfaltering audience member. She would religiously read my blog posts and listen to my stories. She would track and follow them in such a way it seemed she was preparing for the biggest examination of her life. Every detail, every nuance was filed away and she would frequently reference the characters in my stories by name, age and other identifying characteristics. Two, the words in my head seemed to have gone silent for a while as if suffering from their own form of depression. In the past I needed to write because the words started dancing around in my head. I would lie in my hammock in Africa or sit in my loft in Denver and words would come forward in such a way that the easiest way to organize them was to turn on my computer and just let them fall out.

Today I try and write because I don’t want my pain to rule the day. Today I want to try and get back to some sort of equilibrium. So, today I will go searching for some words. They are not falling on the page like they have in the past. They are static and heavy as if they were fully dressed for a cold winter’s day and somebody came by and threw them into a pool. I witnessed this happen and pulled them out of the chilly water. Now they stand at the side, cold, shivering and unable to comprehend why someone would have done that. Their suffering pains me too but I am happy to see that I have found them and I will try and help them dry off and recover from this insult.

While they dry off I will be traveling to Freetown, Sierra Leone. I plan to spend the holiday season there with someone special. Hopefully the words I have found will dry up quickly so that I can use them in describing this new place I am about to explore.

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