Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I contain multitudes.

I have been back in the states for almost two weeks now. And once you have gone, it is so easy to see.

Why America is the land of opportunity.

Here, I can choose. I choose all sorts of things. Chocolate or vanilla. College or career. Satellite or cable. Marriage or motherhood or not. And we take those silly and not-so-silly choices for granted every day, never realizing what a fortune already lies in their simple existence.

I have so much. We have so much. Yet it is never enough. And I fall into the trap time after time, of needing what I want.

Travel, as always, inspires me to touch this world. To run. jump. play. To live less within my own head. There, life is tuned into nature, rising like the tide through courtyard and window and rooftop. A fluency between human and earth exists which has been lost in our climate control and desk jobs. I have the urge to walk endlessly, searching for that same sense of connection. Stillness in the constant turning. Difficult now to focus on how heart.lungs.brain.kidney can be altered with medication when I have so much life to embrace.

To revisit my original expectations, I will say this:

I have fallen in love with music all over again. The beating heart of the drum, the sweeping elegance of the kora. The purity of an art practiced for its own sake. Nothing else simultaneously grounds and lifts you, melts you into the world while allowing you to really see it. An unspoken language that can connect you to another, to yourself, deeper than words ever could.

Freedom for women comes with economic opportunity. How fortunate I am to be able to use my mind in pursuing a career which allows me to support myself. To share this life with a person of my choice, if I so decide, rather than out of financial necessity or family obligation.

The tea is actually sweet and delicious. On a good day, I can haggle with the best of them and fetch myself a taxi in French - without pushing the starting price upward ;) I can relate to Beth what I am 95% sure Mama Aida was trying to tell me, only to be utterly wrong every time.

Personal favorite
My translation: "Oh she likes how I braided my hair today! Thanks Mama, I did it myself!"
Actual translation: "What are you putting in your hair because it bleached the sheets I put on your bed?!"

I don't expect to ever return to Senegal. I would gladly go back, but there is so much more ground to tread upon. I say goodbye with an eternal sense of gratitude for this experience. For its lessons in hospitality and tolerance, its little and big pushes outside of my comfort zone. A reminder of the glow I feel when surrounded by salt water and infinite horizons. Recognition of truly wanting to be none other than myself. An urge to write that I have not felt in years. To empty the worlds within me onto paper. So many gifts I have been given. I push forward, resolving to work hard. To live more simply. A little less comfortably. Lessen my carbon footprint, but always leave a mark. To love; fiercely and graciously. Share generously. To appreciate all I have, all I am.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable.
 I am large. I contain multitudes.
-Walt Whitman


  1. well what to say, i have an amazing daughter..your gift for writing , putting your "heart" on paper is one of the "gifts" of this trip to me...(besides my cool jewlery!)

  2. yes Becca thanks for giving us a glimpse into your heart and mind these past weeks....we have enjoyed it! Senegal has left its mark on your life and i know you wont be the same.