Becoming a Callous

Kevin Do - Senegal


March 6, 2013

I always say that you can make anything at all a metaphor for life. So I challenged myself to actually do it.  This whole experience is turning me into a callus. What do I mean?

Well first of all, what is a callus? It is a buildup of dead skin on a certain part of your body. Its just an adaptation your body develops over time in response to use of that part of your body. For example, guitar players often have massive calluses on their fingertips from holding down the strings. Another type of people who have calluses are gardeners, like me.

I’ve literrally developed multiple calluses due to my gardening. I pull water from the well, water the beds, dig the beds, get fertilzer from the fields, etc. They are all things that force my body to adapt. Likewise, Senegal itself has forced me to adapt through the many experiences I’ve had. From trudging through the flooded streets of Dakar in the middle of a raging storm to something as simple as going to the forest to get firewood. Everything here teaches me something, even if it’s insignificant.

This whole experience slowly shapes me, like using a “kerike” to dig plant beds slowly digs into my skin and creates a callus. Sometimes my body simply can’t adapt fast enough to the digging and I get blisters that hurt pretty bad. The life equivalent would be breaking down when I can’t deal with life here, whether its the people or culture. But then the blister heals and becomes a callus, usually much better than one formed without a blister. The tough times always make us better in the end.

Another thing is that if you stop working, your calluses fade away and things get tough again. That’s why I tell myself to keep trying. Keep pushing through because I can’t just stay in my room and magically expect things to get better. A callus is an accumulation of dead skin. A human is an accumulation of life experiences.

Kevin Do