On Love, Hair and Other Such Things…
I took my first trip to Ghana, West Africa! Accra to be exact. It was a vacation with my 11-year old daughter and my boyfriend (who grew up there and currently works there). He invited the two of us to visit his hometown – to see, smell and experience a part of his life we had yet to know first hand.
We were well prepared. Vaccinations. Check. Current passports & visas. Check. Ample bug spray. Check. Choice outfits for family gatherings and prestige social events. Check. Flip Cam. Check. Zest-for-life-attitude. Check. Everything was in order and I was determined not to allow work circumstances and life’s responsibilities to disable this trip of a lifetime. This was, quite possibly, one of those experiences that would bring the three of us closer to all that is important in life. I had planned a 4-day jaunt to Africa that was so tight one of my besties classified it as, “a boss maneuver”.
What I did not know, what I couldn’t even imagine, was that for all of the planning and pre-trip running about, the two most relevant take-aways from the trip would be lessons on love and hair. Yes, I traveled all the way to Africa – 10 hours on a non-stop flight across seas, to understand more profoundly my two most haunting obsessions – Love & Hair.
First up, Love:
Many great people have written about love – and rightfully so. It is so complex and our tiny minds convolute it so, that even the masters of thought and expression fail in their attempts to simplify it for us.
Barry White sings, “You’re my first. My last. My everything.” Hearing these words at midnight, poolside in Accra brought me to a complete stand still. It didn’t matter that with in hours, I was to visit an historic Slave Castle where thousands of people were shipped into slavery. The reality of one of the world’s worst tragedies was being overshadowed by Barry White’s deep, slow, baritone voice. Or rather, his beautiful declaration of crazy-love, endless-love, forever-love. His notion of absolute and earth shattering love of another, where nothing-else-maters-kind-of-love, quieted me. It humbled me.
But then, hear this…Rumi writes, “You must marry your soul. That wedding is the way.” Remembering those words, I asked myself, “Who should we love first, if not ourselves? If we each are to adore and commit, shouldn’t it be first to our own needing soul? It’s the oxygen-mask-on-mama-first scenario.
I was torn. Sitting poolside in Accra, pondering Love. Somewhere between the two masters, Barry White and Rumi, lies my truth. Somewhere between the Other and the Self is where I reside.
I believe in love. That is first and foremost. Love is all around us – we simply have to look for it. There is love of self, love of partner, love of child, love of friend, love of object. All love is relevant and immediate in my world.
I have loved a book my grandmother gave me. Loved it deeply and meaningfully and wanted to keep it forever simply because she had read it before I, and gracefully marked it up with careful, smart notes over many of its pages. The book was worn and smelled like Chanel No.5.
I love my children in a most powerful way that could literally break the back of anyone threatening them harm.
I love my boyfriend like, well frankly like he loves shitoh (spicy black pepper sauce commonly used in Ghana on just about everything). With my bf, it’s not a matter of need, but rather he just makes everything better.
I love me. In fact, I love me more than others do, most likely. And the best part is I adore my quirks and my weaknesses. I love myself because my mom taught me to when I was young. Early on, I adopted the oxygen mask technique – self-first, then all others, all.
So as I sat in Ghana, listening to Barry White and thinking of Rumi, I connected with the most powerful notion – love is a human constant. It and life are seamless. Self, partner, child, thing…love is love. Powerful.
…..My next post…Hair and why Americans are really quite boring…