Vessel

January 1st, 2014

Wash me out to sea. A vessel on a wave.

Let me float across to another continental plate…float to another place entirely. Be lost for a blissful eternity and return when I want to. Tell people when I want to. Face the freedom of my own choices. Let out the cries of a free person. I stand alone on this sandy beach without you… stand alone to face the world.

The bright sun spoke to me. Shining its rays on me. Burning my skin as a warning—

“Listen to me. You’ve got the moon and me for a little while, trading places, switching times. But one day for you the moon will not glow and I will not shine. And the stars will go out, one star at a time. And you will find yourself surrounded by blackness devoid of light. What will you do? Well, you will die. But until your time here is done embrace all your choices and raise up your eyes. To the sky and its horizon, our celestial playground. The place where your heart gets all of its dreaming done. A place of magic and hope, where no one else can fuck up your plans. Keep your eyes on the horizon and believe in my rays, the moon with its moonglow and the dawn in all its colors. We are all the beauty that will make your one life mean everything.”

Then the sun set and left me in its wake, the wake of words indicating all the choices I could make.

And I cried because it was beautiful, and I laughed because it was beautiful, and I ran down the empty beach to claim what was mine.

I am a vessel of love. I am a vessel of life.

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Salala, Liberia

December 3rd, 2013

In Africa we rise with the sun.

It starts with one or two people shuffling around in the 5 o’clock light. Calling out to each other, sweeping, fetching water… What begins as quiet clucking turns into a steady crow… many roosters, a chorus of cacophonous crowned birds calling to the sun, to each other, marking their territory, crying out their existence.

The hustle and bustle continues in steady crescendo until 7 am when the world is in full swing. Now at 9:30 am, radios, school children and working mothers have added their timbre. The village is alive. The sun is high and it’s hot.

The world is so small here. Inhabitants seem unmoved by the possibility of life outside. They know about it, certainly, but the ‘here and now’ is this very village, how to prepare the next meal, the new litter of puppies next door, the big program happening tomorrow. Every person is a neighbor. Every relationship has a flow. Most actions have a simple purpose— because it’s too hot for anything unnecessary.

When the sun dips and the sounds change from a buzz to a murmur, we eat by candlelight. The strong pungency of burning wick turns my insides as we sit in the stagnant air, fanning our faces with hand-woven fans made of straw and chicken feathers. There is joy, community and life sewn between these mud houses. While preparing dinner a neighbor comes to help cut up the tough skin of a pumpkin for pumpkin soup…but doesn’t stay for dinner. Every person in attendance adds ingredients. The meal and cleanup take hours, but results in a group of people gathered together for the evening. After dinner, with the light gone, we fasten our bug huts and go to sleep in the dark heat.

Liberia is war-torn. It’s ugly, it’s beaten down and tired. It’s filled with people who have nothing but their pumpkin soup and shanty roofs. But it’s also as vibrant and beautiful as it can be through sorrow. Its bright cloth lappas reflect celebration and the life of a small community. The jungle and its sounds fill the world with the energy of survival. I have so much to learn— and it’s only been a few days. A few days that fill me with a lifetime of thought.

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