I Fell in Love with the Ocean!

It was like a soft kick in my gut, the first time I saw her! Soft enough to not cause pain, but solid enough to rattle my organs and leave me breathless. She is beautiful!

At first it was the wind and the sounds from her that caught my attention. I stood ashore and marveled at the feeling of the wind on my skin. It was gentle sometimes, and harsh when she was temperamental. The same with the soothing sounds that came with lazy waves rippling on its surface or gently nudging the ocean side. These same sounds would turn from a caress to a whiplash of rolling anger that lashed and punished the sand, rocks and trees near the shore. The same anger that would penalize an unfortunate fisherman or traveler on water and form destruction.

Once my attention was captivated, I stared at the ocean and took a long, lung-puffing breath. She smelled of secrets! If secrets could smell, that would be it. Smell might be the wrong word for it, but my nose surely caught all forms of it. I smelled musk and wetness with a hint of salt. Then I smelled sea-life and growth, but then I thought I smelled rust or maybe warm ice. All these danced in a slow mingling circle around my senses, not strong enough to be smells but subtle and persistent enough to not be called smells.

My chest was alight with delight and in my excitement, I ran to her. I realized as I got closer how small and insignificant I could be next to her enormous presence. The introvert in me embraced that like a warm fluid blanket as I slowly walked into the water. It was cool to my skin in contrast to the blazing sun above. I walked further immersing my body in the cooling sensation and marveling at the vast beauty around me. She hugged me then, and it felt like home. I realized then that I had been homesick, for a place where I hadn’t been before. This felt like it and I didn’t want to miss it anymore.

So, I went back to the ocean every time. I would walk towards it and fill my lungs with its smell of secrets, look into its vast layout, open my arms wide and walk into its cooling embrace where I could stay for a while and be home. It was love! I loved being with her and missed her when life pulled me away.

I can testify that love comes in many forms because she loves me back. I know she does because I have felt her warmth around me and the cool salve of her water on my hot skin. I know because she loved me enough to be her own self with me and allowed me to learn more about her. I got to learn that just like a manifestation of her complicated smells, she sways in strong all-consuming emotions. Once in a while the storm comes, and one never knows where it comes from, how long it’ll last or even who and what it’ll drown. When the storms caught me in her embrace, I would hold on and ride through them. Sometimes my presence calmed the storm and brought us back to a peaceful embrace. Sometimes the storm brew and grew so thunderous that it carried me in a violent whirl. I would get lost in it and wake up bruised and beaten floating in the once-again calm water of the aftermath. The water cooled my bruises and I closed my eyes in relief ignoring the destruction floating by my side. Or occasionally, I would try to save some bruised beings or entities near me.

Such was love ___ such was my love for the ocean. I want to stay and love her! The cooling hugs afterwards were worth the storms and even the ocean elements that could end my immortal life. It felt like my home, complete with its chaos. It felt like home even when though I couldn’t breathe under water. Even when the salty water burned my eyes to swollen-red slits. Home, ___, where I floated on secrets, cooling water and fear of the next storm.

I fell in love with the ocean and went through storms and brokenness to realize that it cannot be my home. I, being a small being incapable of taming a temper goddess. I, being a land dweller who cannot live and breathe in water. I, who needs fresh water to live. I, who mistook temporary comfort for home. I, who clung to that illusion of home for so long and forgot to build my very own home. I, who is a mere human.

I fell in love with the ocean. And one day, I walked away never to return. I will get a whiff of the musky smell of secrets and long for the mystery of her. I will see her near my path and get a tug of longing so strong. I will shed a tear or a lot more when I think of her. But I know for sure that I will stay on land and make my own home, because the ocean and I cannot love each other to life.

Ocean2

Pouring, and everything liquid…

               You used to walk around as a full being. Full of life, full of love, full of anger, full of yourself and full in any possible meaning of it, in your own way. Those near you felt it and walked next to you also full. Once in a while, someone would get a little empty, and your being would overflow and fill them up again. And you would get your fill from overflowing ones near you when it got empty. It is good and peaceful, and it is natural. So natural that you do not recognize the process. Just like the way you don’t recognize your own breathing or the beating of your heart. Or even the flow of your blood. You just lived and you were FULL.
The one day, you met empty souls. You met those whose beings missed something. Those who had unquenchable thirsts and hungers. Those whose needs are never really satisfied no matter how much they receive. There are people whose cups are never full, because somehow they accumulated holes under them and may never discover that. They keep tirelessly trying to fill their cups to no success. Some have empty cups simply because they never learned to fill them up. Or they don’t meet those who can walk with them and learn the fulfilling process together.
You met those souls. You who so naturally and unconsciously lived in pouring what was overflowing from yourself into others and receiving other’s overflow. So, you naturally poured your overflow onto the empty souls, and they rejoiced in it. They enjoyed it so much that they asked for more, and you poured just a little more. Suddenly you start tilting to pour from yourself. You are not overflowing anymore. You give all the overflow and receive nothing in return. Because empty souls don’t know how to share. They don’t have what to give back. They wouldn’t even know how to pour if they accumulate excess. Empty souls need refill, and you will never have enough to refill them when you don’t know why they are empty. So, you tilt and pour, bend a little more and pour, and before long you get down to your knees to pour…

You now have an almost empty being, and it’s taking a toll on you. You feel the pains of bending too low to pour. You feel the empty thirst in your chest and do not know what to do. You are almost flat on the ground trying to pour more into them, but you don’t have much left. They notice your diminishing flow, and ask for more. They wonder why you don’t pour that much anymore. They ask, and ask, ask. You have a few drops left and are flat on your tummy. That last pour may be your bridge to becoming an empty soul yourself.

You may pour to the last drop and start your life as another empty soul searching for drops from others. This may take a lifetime. You may hopefully meet an overflowing individual who is conscious of the process and take you through the journey to refill. You may even discover the meaning of it all and stop the last pour, and start the work on refilling yourself up again. You may go into all possible directions with your being! One thing is for sure, only you can refill that cup before anyone else can even try to do it. Nobody else can restart the flow for you.

               My dear readers, we have all been overflowing or empty souls at one point or another in life. We have met givers, receivers and users in life. Some of us ask for too much and feel deprived when those near us fail to deliver. We walk around hungry for more, attention, possessions, memories… this hunger preys on those near us. They feel the burden of never being enough, they feel our dissatisfaction. On the other hand, some of us give too much to those around us. It may be due to the need to feel irreplaceable, or accepted. It may be for many other reasons out of my limited understanding. However, giving without receiving (as is receiving without giving) is sad and unfulfilling. And those receiving from us get accustomed to it and may even start expecting or demanding more. Leading to a regrettable circle of disappointment and resentment.

No matter where you belong in this narrative at the moment, the answer to a more fulfilled life isn’t in everybody else around you. It is within yourself. Ask yourself why you don’t feel like you are ENOUGH. Ask yourself why you don’t feel like you get ENOUGH? Find yourself. Fill yourself. Do that before you overflow onto or drink from others.

How are you?

It has been a while, readers! This title seems appropriate after the long silence. I write today wondering how everyone is. How is 2018 looking so far? Are there any major changes in your life? Did anyone’s hair grow? New pet? Back pains? …?

I’m always curious about the people around me or those that interact with my life in one way or another. And even end up making up stories about them when I need entertainment. Like, the man I sat next to in the bus could be a primary school teacher with a wife and a little seven-year-old girl. Or the moto-guy could be trying to date the girl who tends to the grocery store in his neighborhood. Basically, I’m interested in people and have been meeting a lot of them recently after moving back to my old town.

I notice something every time I meet a new person these days. After the usual introduction, there’s a question that comes almost instantly. For example, after the initial: “Hi Dada. Pleasure meeting you” part, there’s a good chance that the next sentence is: “And what do you do, Dada”? Which I usually need a few seconds to answer. What do I do? Is it acceptable to say I cook? Or I wake up and use the bathroom? I crochet occasionally?

The person obviously wants to know what I do for a living aka my job or whatever project/source of income that pays my bills. If it is in a corporate event, that person wants to know what gives me the right or legitimacy to be there. And sometimes the answer would determine exactly how much attention or decency the person should invest in me. Am I an interesting contact, potential client, potential employer or investor? Our interaction will now be determined by that question. And this goes so far that even simple flirting or friendliness will depend on the answer to the ‘what do you do?’ question.

We are in societies and situations where, “what do you do?” has replaced, “how do you do?” and “who are you?” comes before “How are you?”. This is a sobering realization for me. It’s sad to think that I have to know who you are before how you are matters to me. And we try to explain it away with logical, practical reasons. “I obviously can’t care about everybody”. “It IS a corporate event! I’m not here to find a new best friend”.  “Eerm, hello! I have bills to pay and a job to do…”. “You save yourself a lot of time when you mind your own business”.
Those are all valid reasons, or not. I don’t write today asking people to walk around throwing rose petals and marshmallows. I don’t ask you to start robotic “how are you, today?” conversations with everyone you bump noses with. I am not telling you to throw away practical reasoning and go give free hugs at the town offices (which could actually be fun). I am writing today asking how you are.

Did you take a moment to think of how you really are? How does it feel being you today? How do you feel with your human interactions?  How is your neighbor? How is your sibling? How is your boss? How is your driver? How is the noisy kid in your street? How is your maid? It may be a good idea to look into yourself and around you and ask. Who knows? This could be the answer to keeping in touch with ourselves and being happy.

So, my dear readers, “HOW ARE YOU?”.

Festive Oddities

Happy new year everybody!! It’s 2018!! The year flew by so fast and before I could wrap my head around it, away it went. Like many people I know, the end of the year caught me in a haze. This is when people pause to reflect on milestones, memories and time. I had my good share of the festivities, including that blank space between Christmas and new year where everyone seems to lose sense of time. And occasionally, when my brain came back from all its festive occupations, I would get thoughtful (as Usual). I got quizzical about Christmas, for example. The lights, décor, the good cheer, the presents and the lights again. My sodded brain just wondered, why all that. Why the lights, Santa Claus, and all these oddities?

A quick and lazy search taught me that long ago in countries that experience winter, (which was severe due to the absence of electricity, heating systems and Netflix), plants and trees that retained their green color during winter were deemed special. People hung evergreen boughs in their homes, with the belief that they could drive away evil and illness.

In the northern hemisphere, they believed that the sun god would fall sick during winter. And by hanging green wreaths of hope and celebrating the summer, he would get well and shine again. Like the Egyptian belief of the sun god Ra.

And thus, through the years, the evergreen wreaths evolved into four feet long or even floor to ceiling decorated fir trees. And now, the size, color, and splendor of the Christmas tree is only limited to the imagination.

So, at last we have an explanation to that huge tree that pops up on the roundabout every December. I still don’t know where Santa came in, but I deducted that for children, he is symbol of giving. A desire to spread joy and good cheer. I didn’t until recently know that there is Santa Claus and Sinterklaas and maybe others. But that’s a whole new talk and my brain is on vacation.

When I was a child, Santa was the jolly plump guy with a white beard brought to realization by toys in stores, Coca-Cola adverts and watching movies like ‘Home Alone’. Christmas until recently comprised of going to church in brand new clothes (Or just your best clothes), singing to the joyful birth of Christ, then head back home for a special meal or visit friends, family or places.

Presently however, cultural diversity allows a mixture of all these in one. And trying to paint a simple picture of Christmas may cause a migraine. There are just so many ways, beliefs, cultures that all work together. Maybe that’s just it! Everyone should just do what they want.

Well, this was a lot of thinking for someone in a holiday I should say. And it wouldn’t matter that much if I crack my head thinking of it. So, finally I came to reconcile with this; it was indeed Christmas! And that was all that matters. Whether you were a Christian celebrating the birth of the savior, a descendant of the sun goddess believers, or a mere citizen just in need of holiday cheer, I said let’s all go for it! It was the end of the year. A time to sit back with our legs stretched. Look back at the year before. The good, the bad and the horrific parts of it. The struggles we have been through. The achievements, the losses, the tears and the joy. The simple moments that gave meaning to our entire lives. The critical moments that almost drained our last drop of faith. The stab that almost killed our will to live.

Then think of all that we could improve. And all those things we wouldn’t want to change. The festive season has been a long break. Like a tall drink of water after a long race. What does it matter how you celebrated it or who you celebrated is as? If lights work for you, decorate every part of your house, including the soup pans and gardening tools. If not, switch it all off. Or even better, skip your bill and let your energy provider cut the power for you and enjoy the dark my friend! Visit with loved ones or lock yourself in! Or just do the typical getting super wasted for half of the holiday. Just be your own kind of festive!

So, salute! Merry (Three weeks late) Christmas everybody! And a very happy new year! 2018, here we come!

Find Me!

I don’t know how I am these days,
The sun shines and I watch the rays,
But somehow this confusion remains,
And I keep racking my cold brains.

I guess somehow my self-entity got lost,
And I became unstable than most,
Life moved so fast with a blurry haze,
I got lost in that scary craze.

Looking back at my life this day,
I don’t really know what to say,
Where did I lose these parts of me?
In busy schedules? Or things I can’t see?

What happened to that bright awake person?
One who lived with fire, freedom and reason,
Which side of the road did I drop her?
How do I get her back right now or after?

This will be a journey, sure and slow,
How I travel through it, I don’t know,
Yet somehow, I will face it all through,
Hoping to find me, slightly broken, but true.

Fear of Bad Breath

Self-reflection happened to me a few days ago. 2017 is almost gone, which gets me and maybe other people, thinking. I thought of different things; life, fruits, shoes, cockroaches, chewing gum—. Okay basically just random stuff. One of these was bad breath. I, like every other person I can think of, shudder at the thought of bad breath. I mean, it is already called bad! I don’t even need to explain that part. So, imagine me sitting there like a plump little guru and thinking of bad breath. It is ridiculous and not worth anyone’s attention. What made this topic stand out for me however was the realization that I fear my own bad breath.

I have been hit more times than I would care to admit by whiffs of death perfumes from humans. It’s a horrific experience. As a result of that, I take care not to assault anyone with my mouth. This has been very good for my dental hygiene actually, but it is quite an occupation. I mean, think of all the gum I have had to invest in, the struggle of not leaning in too close when speaking, avoiding whispering, the bloating that comes with long periods of chewing gum. I was honestly so afraid of my own bad breath that I took special pains to avoid it. The funny thing is, I never really noticed any threatening odors from most of the people I interacted with. Probably because my breath and theirs is just fine, or they have matching stink (One can never know!)
Before I totally confuse you with my breath talk, here is my take on this:

I think most people live like this, and I don’t mean in constant dental warfare. I mean, we hold our breaths too much. We worry about others way more than we do ourselves. We let our perception of what we think others think of us dictate our entire lives. I am guilty of that too. And recently, I decided to breath and let my sides relax. I cannot walk through life afraid of letting go, holding my head down and politely whispering my words as I purchase a pack of gum. I want to sing, I want to throw my head back and laugh. I want to blow kisses and give hugs.

Dear people, this life is short and good. We harden it by the expectations we weave around ourselves and each other. We deny ourselves freedom of being by overthinking and self-intimidation. It’s about time that we all breath and live. Say what we mean and our words will be received by the right people. Let us be free enough to act our true selves, instead of creating characters for ourselves. Pretense will only attract pretense and form hypocritical relationships. Let us just be real and the right moments, experiences and people for us will find us. There’s no point trying to blend in with ostriches if you are a flamingo or forcing a dolphin to adopt a tilapia. Dear people, let’s breath. It’s after all, only one life.

All metaphors aside though, if you have persistent bad breath despite your best efforts, please make it your new year’s resolution to see a doctor about that. We will all thank you for it. ?

A Moment of Silence

Loss is hard to explain, harder to accept and even harder to experience. No one is a stranger to loss, unfortunately. My earliest experience was with an old family dog named Bruce Lee despite being female. I still remember the look on my uncle’s face when he tried to explain to wailing kids why she had to be put down. I remember disbelief, anger and tears that didn’t dry even after treats. And I remember short moments of emptiness every time I ran outside and not see Bruce Lee.
Another instance was an accident announced during the morning assembly at my primary school. The headmistress asked for a moment of silence after a sad speech. I remember the bell ringing after the short moment, school bursting with activity again and me thinking; “Is that it?”

With life and growing up, I find a lot more loss. The more one grows, the losses get bigger, closer and deeper. From a favorite toy, a loved pet, to a close relation. Just like everyone around me, loss has not been easy especially when it is a dear one. What does one do after losing someone? How do we get back to life? Who do we entrust our sorrow with? How long do we grieve? So many questions that don’t have right answers.

After numerous occasions of loss, I still don’t know what comes after the moment of silence. Even though it is respectful to the departed and soothes those left behind, it is just too little. Or too short. Or just too silent. The thought that we will one day be just a moment of silence seems insufficient to me. There should be more!

I reflect on this as time goes by and I thought it a good idea to decide to be more. Sing an extra song in the shower for example. Give longer hugs and go for walks with those I care about. I realize that it is a precious but fleeting life. We all have no idea when we will be voids and short moments of silence. The essence of those we love only stays alive within us while the world goes on unfazed. I pray that we keep these flames alive and that we create enough warmth ourselves for those who love us to keep our flame alive when we are gone. I pray that we don’t hold back our love, tears or joy. I pray that we live and that those we lost live through us.
I write today for those we lost; those we miss desperately and wonder how life could continue without them, those we wish to share simple parts of life and meaning with but can’t. I pray that they rest in peace.
I write today for those of us who have lost; I pray that we live so fully through the loss, I pray that we celebrate the lives we encountered and remember them with love and happiness.
I write today for those we will lose and those who will lose us; I pray that we live and love now so, so fiercely that when we go, it is not a loss anymore but a celebration of life well spent. I pray that when we go, it is a sigh of contentment that waves us away, or a beautiful melody.
As I said, maybe a moment of silence is just not enough—

Dada the Babysitter!

This is what usually happens in my mind every time I see a baby:
“Oh My God! Why are you shoooooo cuuuuttee??? Just look at those big pweety eyes and shoft cheekies for me to smoonch!”

And these are things that usually come to my mind every time I think of babies; soft bums, giggles, heart-melting grins, tiny adorable clothes in so many cute colors, bows (I don’t know why!), that gentle unique baby smell, mushy feelings, butterflies and all that. You get the idea. I do also think of the other stuff like dirty diapers, burps, screaming toddlers and sleepless nights, but not as often.

My experience with babies is not limited at all. I am such an “auntie”! I mean show me a baby and I will stick to your life like a leech. After stamping the “Baby Lover” seal on myself therefore, I settled to daydreaming of the time I will also be a mother with a smile on my face. I mean, with all this love for babies, being a mom felt pretty awesome. I could even picture my womb sitting on a plush couch, sipping an unidentified brew and smiling at me in peaceful anticipation of the coming adventure. Well, that was until I, for the very first time, had to stay with a baby for a whole weekend!

I was pretty excited when I got the request to babysit for a whole weekend. I already love the little muffin and we were going to have lots of fun together. We did have fun, for exactly two hours, after which I learned that babies cry when hungry and cry some more when you try to feed them. Then pause to dance to a random song on TV, only to cry again because… I don’t know. They probably remembered why they were crying in the first place. But the first day went on pretty well. The first night had me waking up every hour to check on the baby who turned out to be a pretty good sleeper. Yet somehow, I couldn’t sleep in peace.
By day two, I was rather sleepy and chipping off a little from my cheerful auntie armor. The baby then decided that I was her very best friend and my arms were officially her personal space. I was then to walk around the house singing as she occasionally backed me up and screamed her displeasure if I tried to sit or stop the march. I walked the house for what felt like hours before madam decided to fall asleep and I in my full grown-up glory and wisdom gave the nanny clear instructions to watch over the baby as I ran out of the house. I’m not proud to announce that I went back five hours later, took up my pacing while singing with the baby until she slept then took my sore back to bed for another sleepless night. Needless to say, the baby’s mom’s face was the best sight ever for me at the end of that weekend.

The three days with madam Cutie-with-the-Talent-to-Scream-Down-a-Generation made me see my life in a very different way. For starters, my womb is no longer a content goddess looking calmly at me, it has now taken the face of my boarding school matron, looking at me with slight disapproval and a good dose of judgement as she tsks and shakes her head. The thought of a future motherhood seems less dreamy now, though still quite attractive. My Baby-Thoughts-Package now also includes; feeding wars, sore back, a very, very high pitched soprano of baby screams, mid-day escapes to a childless place for sanity, and a lot of puree smudges.  All in all, baby-keeping, parenthood, or whatever its termed is not like chewing gum, everybody can do that, duh! So, as we start this week Lovies, I hope we really pause to think before making some tiny humans. I mean it IS hectic.

Old Children

My bibi and I walked into a roadshow once. It had a huge banner with “Siku ya mtoto wa Afrika (Day of the African Child)” on it. A choir was screaming about the importance of talking to children. The message went a bit like: “A child is not equivalent to an animal, you can talk and he/she will understand…”. I recall thinking “yeah, we should really talk to our children…”.
I was eight years old!

It’s just recently that I noticed that I don’t think of my past as my “childhood”.
I just think of it as “when I was younger”. I didn’t see my 8-year-old self as a child, just a young person.
I, like a lot of the people around me, grew up way too fast. Some of us locked our inner child away before even re-growing the teeth we lost. There are elder siblings who grew up to raise their younger sisters and brothers. There are hungry kids who needed to earn their bread and counted coins before they could count their fingers and toes. There are little old guys staring out with big eyes at screaming parents before they can recite the alphabet. There are even those who were burdened with obligations to keep family names, businesses, traditions, before they could see enough to decide their own way.

There are children locked up in remote areas of our beings, forgotten but always there. And once in a while when our guards drop, they come out. They play, they are mischievous, reckless and free. Yet sometimes they come out, see what happened to the shell they have become and feel cheated or a little hopeless. There are old children in most of us.

I used to get confused when the little girl came out, I still do at times. Sometimes she giggles and wants to run around. So, I would call my girls, spend a lazy day at home and be merry. Other times the girl comes out hurt and bruised. So, I lock myself in, try to remember when my parents were taller than life, and rock myself to sleep. There are days when I crave my mom’s favorite dish and nothing else seems satisfying then. So many different ways, triggered by memories, scents, sights. The confusion clears only when I recognize that it is the little girl in me peeping out. A few days ago, I mused on what to do with her. I write today with the decision that I shall treat her like my own daughter. When the little girl who was never allowed to be, peeps out, I will embrace her. I will bathe her, feed her and sing her to sleep. I will pace the room singing on the days that sleep is elusive and dreams are painful. I will make her a herbal tea when she has a flu. I will run when she is restless. I will visit loved ones and hug them when she’s lonely. I will rub coconut oil into her thick wild hair and comb it until it shines. I will gently scold her when she misbehaves and show here what to do differently. I will love her, and protect her for who she is and what she means to the woman I hope to be.

For those who recognize the little child inside, this is for us. This is for all the little old children inside every one of us. May we nourish them. May we realize that we can love them enough to heal them if broken or to grow them from love received before. May we realize that we are these children, and we are the grown-up shells from them. May we love them, care for them and build them. Only then can we gain enough growth to channel positively to the world around us. Here is to the little old children within, may we BE.

 

Sappy

Your smile, the trembling of my heart,
Your touch, the creeping of my skin,
Why do I cry when I’m not hurt?
Why do I rejoice in my own sin?

Rainbows, morning dew, raindrops,
Tears, broken hearts, lost dreams,
Why can’t I open when bliss knocks?
Why do I only hear my heart’s screams?

I lost love once, lost my own faith,
I hide, Scared of being once more broken,
Although my soul longed for some wealth,
And my head buzzed with words unspoken.

Is this how death feels like to me?
Am I alive, am I in the land of the living?
How do I move on and let me be
When it hurts even with my own breathing.

Heaven have mercy, I want to cry,
If it might even give slight relief,
I can’t find peace, and God! I try,
My strength leaks beyond all belief.

Be here with me now, make me melt,
Clear this doubt and the clouds I hold,
The fear of emotions I once felt,
Smile, allow me to feel bold.

Are you real, or just a strong illusion?
With that strong, mightily assuring presence,
Are you in my life or my mind’s creation?
I cower at the thought of your absence.

Help me to be born and live afresh,
Break my will, my being, my bones,
Make me alive, mold the feel of my flesh,
Give me peaches, strength, love of stones.

I get so scared, but sometimes happy,
You give me all, you ask for nothing,
So I’m content, but also shamelessly sappy,
That I have you, I won’t ask for more of anything.