Africa Archive 2014

You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place

Over the past few weeks I’ve been slowly posting in segments pieces about my latest expedition to Ghana, West Africa. From start to finish, to the origins that led to the journey, to the many lessons I learned and re-learned throughout, here is the complete archive in one blog post:

1. – Affirmation

2. – Nairobi 

3. – Maps 

4. – My Lover (Pt. I)

5. – The Despair of the Privileged 

6. – Reckless Abandon 

7. – Pen & Paper 

8. – Lake Bosomtwe 

9. – The Grand Portrait 

10. – Tourists and Travelers 

11. – My Lover (Pt. II)

12. – The Inevitable Sadness 

13. – The Burden of Self 

14. – Stable Instability

15. – The Front Lines

The Front Lines

“Why do you do these things?” Aldonza vehemently exclaimed. Several days earlier this man had entered their little town doing the most peculiar things.
Puzzled, Don Quixote replied, “What things?”
“These ridiculous … the things you do!”
“I hope to add some measure of grace to the world,” he said softly but with a strength she had never encountered before.
“The world’s a dung heap and we are maggots that crawl on it!”
Don Quixote answered with compassion, “My lady knows better in her heart.”

 

An apathetic comfortable conformity to the society in which one lives is the most subtle form of  unconscious slavery. It’s nothing short of a suppression of the truth and of the abundant life.

When people (westerners) think of “the front lines” of battle or hardship, they often picture places that lack physical comfort and development, where wars, crime and terrorism reign and poverty dominates. Places like Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan and Northern Uganda come to mind. Maybe one pictures the impoverished people living in the slums of Nairobi in Kenya or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Truly this is where the wars are being fought, right? Continue reading “The Front Lines” »

Stable Instability

“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”  ― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

There are allusions throughout the novel that emphasize how finite life really is despite the illusion of everlasting. When I first stumbled upon Paul Bowles’ novel The Sheltering Sky on the bottom shelf of an office coffee table in the bustling city of Kumasi, Ghana, I had no idea that I would embark on a mental journey through the (Sahara) desert of life and find myself strangely, maybe very strangely, identifying with the characters.

Spoiler alert for anyone interested in reading the book…  The story takes place after WWII in French West Africa. Two American travelers and one tourist find themselves journeying across the Sahara from Algiers, not knowing how long they will stay in each city, acting as if time does not exist. Continue reading “Stable Instability” »