Sitting here listening to Shania Twain serenading me from the television – in Dakar, in Senegal, on my last day of my first month – I cannot help but notice an odd juxtaposition. All at once it feels like I have been here the longest time, yet it also feels like I have only been in Senegal for a few hours. Reflecting on this beginning of my journey that has stretched from the Institute of Noetic Sciences to the sewage lined streets in Dakar after the big rains, I feel like I am entering my own Renaissance, my own rebirth. Like those of old, it is not a rebirth that forgets everything that has happened in history, but one that is putting the puzzle pieces of the past in their place and building up from them. So I have not found huge new things to care about yet, but I have had the opportunity to shine a light on things that usually sit happily in the shadows. All that I have know of myself up to this point is centered, acknowledge, and there for the pondering. My renaissance is in its infancy, but now it is time for me to show everyone that, in fact, we are not the center of the universe.
- Cuisine: I never quite realized how much joy cooking gave me, whether it was for myself or for others. Then there is the feeling of absolutely being alive when you have the perfect meal with the perfect ingredients.
- Aesthetic: I now see how being surrounded by beauty that lets in the world, and doesn’t make you draw connections to prison cells, resonates with you, whether you notice it or not. To me, clothes are a form of personal expression but the different societal norms have brought in this freedom.
- Language: I’ve always loved books an absurd amount. Really, the smell of new books is a paramount thing in the world I think. Somehow though, I have never loved writing; I was always bored with my papers by the time I was finished with them. That is, until now. Even as I write this, I am secretly smiling. Writing something out makes me crystallize my ideas and thoughts, finding the flaws and the gems in them. The moment that I find the word that slides into the sentences perfectly is comparable to a tempurpedic mattress: it makes you feel comfortable and content with life. Living in a world that does not pass through my language has only furthered this idea, giving every word in every language more value.
Lastly, academics: I’m a self professed nerd. I love every part of school-getting to know the people, the classes, the sports, rising to the challenges, and being surrounded by all of people that act as fountains of knowledge. Now for the first time I’m not in school. The training back in California was like fruit, sweet as candy and amazingly good for me. Here I am learning every single day, just of a different subject matter. It makes me realize how happy I am with days where there is so much to take in, no matter if its a presentation by Joel Segre or if I’m learning how to pour tea two feet above a cup from my friend Amadou.
I have not found the new thing to care about that will define my coming life, but I have had the opportunity to shine a light on things that normally rest happilly in the shadows. All that I have known about myself up to this point is centered, acknowledged, and there for pondering. My renaissance is in its infancy, and it is now time for me to set out and show everyone that, in fact, we are not the center of the universe.