What is most remarkable about this, my final morning in Senegal, is how quickly the emotions of the past several days have receded, and settled into memory.
Of course, as soon as reread those words, emotions upwell.
On the last day of school, as teachers were cleaning up and checking out, a colleague asked how I was doing, if I were excited about leaving.
I realized only later what I was unable to express in that moment. I was experiencing a dozen emotions, not one. A cartoon character might feel one emotion, excitement, but what I have been feeling are multiple emotions -- sadness, loss, regret, uncertainty, anticipation, and, yes, excitement.
I have been mindful, in these final days, to walk softly, and exit quietly, without drama or fanfare; to depart feeling rather than moving, alcohol-free.
The Senegalese notion of teranga is real (though the culture, generally speaking, is no less contradictory than my own). Teranga is an inner state and connotes an authenticity and deepness of regard that is foreign to me as an American. It is the most important and valuable souvenir that I might take away from three years in West Africa.
I will desperately miss spending my days in the company of so-called third culture kids. I’m very sad about it. The felt sense of loss is on the order of a death. In an interesting reversal, I feel like I’m loosing my teachers, and individuals whom I so admire, for their basic goodness, and ethical sense, and broad, international perspective.
There’s something of great personal value and significance beneath these images and emotions. I do think it lies in their basic goodness and selflessness, whether real or perceived.
It certainly has been a rich three years -- not all positive, but rich in learning and experience nevertheless. I’ve experienced Senegal Deluxe.
I’ve learned the importance of having a light or lighter touch, of touching and releasing, and then returning to what doesn’t change, whether attention to posture, or breath, or related.
And so it is now time to move on.