We have inherited these principles of connection, as we navigate friction and unity in our homes, as we try to do right by one another, as we talk over coffee or via messages sent in nanoseconds over oceans. Our families are bound to us in a patterning rendered by the fidelity and devotion of generations in the spirit of Hipparchus of Greece, lover of truth and clarity who, so inspired by the discovery of a “new” star, spent years tenderly cataloging each fixed point of light in the sky.
Sometimes you keep your head down for a bit too long, buried deep in your laptop, your creative work, your chores, and you forget to look up and press your face against the world. The humdrum becomes drudgery, the drudgery becomes dead weight, your whole environment becomes a nuisance. It’s (way, way too) easy to lose sight of the charm that’s just next to you, of opportunities for humor and grace. Herewith, in attempt to recapture that charm, and reclaim my gratitude about life overseas, are some of the things I appreciate most about living in Hargeisa.
Some argue that your calling isn’t WHAT you do, but HOW you do it: How do you impact the people around you, as a banker or a shepherd or a chef? On the other hand, maybe your passion doesn’t have to culminate in a single, grandiose gesture to humankind; you can live out your calling in small pieces, offering yourself to the universe as you go.
Roda invited us into her tea shop, a wooden frame of sticks and crunchy, curled, leaves shading customers from the sun. We had made our way into rural Somaliland for monitoring activities, and at one stop we chatted with Roda, businesswoman and single mother of six. A tea kettle sat on smoking logs, and we sat on woven mats on the ground. birds flitted through the leaves above us, chirping away. At the time, Roda was doing pretty well for her family: she had a decent income from her tea shop, and she owned a couple cows. She was making it work, holding it together. I’ve been thinking about Roda during the past few weeks as the drought in Somalia and Somaliland slides quickly into something much worse. Of all the things we’re able to control in the modern day, the weather just isn’t one of them (yet), and this corner of the world is especially vulnerable to climate change. I think also about community, and its power to manifest resilience in the individual. In this place, community is fierce; a Somali with …
It was Eid al-Fitr, following the month of Ramadan, and we had a goal: to win over the neighbors on our hilltop. our strategy: cookies, as many kinds as we could manage to churn out of our small stove. We mixed and rolled and patted… …and raided the grocery store and our kitchens for the most cookie-esque ingredients we could muster. We did well, with an assortment of shortbreads: cocoa, coffee and chocolate, lime, date and nutmeg, cardamom, and peanut butter with blueberry (green!) jam. We packed and wrapped in flashy, Eid-appropriate paper, tied with a string. …and headed out into the neighborhood, intent on making smiles, and crumbs, and friends.
An excerpt from a recent email between close friends: In all honesty I’m terrified, and my confidence is shaken to the core. Nevertheless, I can’t deny the everyday gifts: the kindnesses, the peach cobbler, the call to prayer and the hypnotic, beautiful dikhr that pours out from the mosques on special occasions; the birds in the morning; the cool floors of my house; the farmer who insisted on giving me two giant, leafy heads of lettuce for free. I try to compose my days of those gifts, building out the time like the homes here that are indefinitely under construction. And of mindfulness, and of quiet and gratitude as well. Not easy, but worth it still. Photos from Tunisia’s striking Sidi Bou Said