Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ghana: A Love Affair

The most valuable lesson I've learned in Ghana has been in my continued love affair with life. The smallest thing strikes me as profoundly important with increasing regularity.

It's not as though my curiosity, my childlike naivity, did not exist before Ghana, but it is most certainly magnified. And I like it. It enables me to whole-heartedly, with all of my being, enjoy everything as though it were new. The color of powders lined side by side, bowl by bowl at market is intellectually stimulating; the textures of the world come to me through a camera lense; the beauty of pattern and fabric against smooth, dark skin is like a canvas in front of me just waiting to be painted.

In my love affair I appreciate other things, too, small things with no seeming significance; the fact that something as simple as dried flowers and leaves dyes the color of my tea in varying degrees - orange to green to blue - or that the pattern it makes before resting at the bottom of the mug is as intricate as any cloud I've ever seen in the sky.

I find beauty in a lot of things I didn't give much attention to before. A small ant, the triumph of bread crumbs heaved atop its shoulders, is whispered encouragements by me; he is as important to the whole as I am. I hold no disdain for him and he, making his way over my toes, doesn't even realize I'm here. Just he and a breadcrumb.

I lose minutes, hours, of my day to people watching. Sometimes I just close my eyes and listen to the sounds, clues to life. In the midday sun no other movement exists but the wind, squeezing around the chimes in my window, through the branches of the trees; leaves seem to whisper to each other as sun light weaves its way into spots along the shaded ground; laughter - a lilting sound carried up and into the sky, as if it would fly away and be as free as the child who made it, who uncaged it.

Vibrations come to me underfoot in the drumming and building and cooking; and I can feel the strength behind it, wrapping itself up and around my calves. It's a rythym like a pulse showing me Africa's heart, why the leaves and flowers and branches still find reason to plunge into the ground and take root; dryness in the air sets my hair alive like the rubbing of two balloons.

It whispers at night when thousands up thousands of stars sparkle to life - just how vast this universe is and how I will never comprehend its fullness, not even if I were to dedicate my life to understanding the beauty to every piece.

And when I can't see it, I bend my ear to earth and listen; and if it can't be heard, I place my palm upon dirt like the ripe belly of a mother, and I find that life is going on all around me; that I should be naive and curious in its beauty is a truth I cannot deny. This is as relevant a lesson as any. Perhaps it is the most important of all.
Ghana has become a kind of love affair.