I have been blog-avoiding for a while now. It is probably more apt to call it neglect. In any case, I have been living the in-person life with the occasional Skype date and letter writing session. Without the internet writing I have been moving and reading and speaking and looking and sitting in my head. Mostly, I have been enjoying beautiful days, distractingly beautiful days. Those days that draw you into the physicality of the world where key-typed words feel far off, foreign.
Life started to feel more saturated the moment I stepped off the plane in Joburg. That instantaneous feeling of being “home” again for perhaps the last time in a long while. Six more months, goodbye was startlingly imminent. Voices sounded sweeter, my reaction to frowns shifted from resentment to acceptance, frustrations turned quirky, life moved quicker. “ Presence”—that age-old self-help nonsense preached by capitalists parading around as selfless gurus that the overworked and overstressed consume at every opportunity—hit me over the head. Lately, I feel so incredibly fortunate when I wake up in the morning, when a stranger says hello to me, when I sit down to read for my thesis, when my roommates come home, when six teenagers show up to my photography class. The gratitude is effortless and un-ignorable.
Life and its multitudes of experiences both begin and end. Beginnings, with their newness, are often filled with sensory experimentation and enjoyment. Endings, with their historical significance, feel much the same. I was sitting on campus on the 19th of March, my 23rd Birthday, waiting for the vice chairperson of our Amnesty International society to meet me, so we could go over the notes from the prior meeting, which he had missed. He was half an hour late. The sun was shining, I was listening to music and reading, waiting. This continuation of my enjoyment startled me, and I was reminded of a time two years earlier in Durban—sitting on the pavement, shedding storm tears because my photography students were either late or just not coming. Those tears stemmed from disappointment with my students and the world at large. I had such big expectations, stressing-ly utopic hopes for our world.
Today, the race to perfection is gone, or rather imperfection has just taken over perfections unattained significance. Now as I wait for my students to stop talking in class, I know, with some unfounded degree of certainty, that I am doing the best that I can, that they are too, that everything else is outside our control. I think gratitude slides into life with the freedom of these feelings. Some days are unbearably hot, and that basic fact of breathing and feeling, the sweat and thick air, makes them the best days we can and will ever have.