Earlier this week I was speaking with some other teachers and parents at school. We were discussing the different pronunciations of the alphabet and the different ways we spell words.This is far more obvious in the multicultural setting that we are now in. For example, some like to pronounce the ‘Z’ at the end of the alphabet as zee, others of us like to stick with zed. Some countries prefer to spell words like colour with a ‘u’ and others without. Then we were discussing the colour grey. Is it spelled with a ‘e’ or an ‘a’. We determined both would be correct, however we did agree that we would spell the colour grey with an ‘e’ and a name with the ‘a’.
Stacy and I have started taking weekly french lessons again. There are about 12 of us in the class. Our teacher is fantastic. He is a local man that teaches at the school. It is great learning from him as he incorporates so many cultural aspects as well.
This week our understanding of cultures has broadened immensely. In part because of our french lessons, but also because we had a day of orientation on Saturday. It was very insightful. It is amazing how diverse each culture is. The North American and African lifestyles and cultures are so far a part. Yet, we are all looking for community, for love and acceptance. As my understanding broadens, I gain a deeper appreciation and respect for each one. Each culture has some amazing positives to it and I am reminded that I still have so much to learn in this life. I am continually amazed at how we are all so unique and we all have something totally amazing to contribute to this life. Life is not as black and white as we tend to think it should be. Yes, right and wrong still remains and there is still truth.
For those of you who know me well, you know I like to be organized. I like to plan. I like to arrange. I like to be on top of things. I like to accomplish and get things done. Often times I have been very black and white. I am growing in this area. Since our time in Africa I have not been able to plan for the day ahead, never mind the week, the month or the year. I have an unusual peace about this. I am learning to hold things loosely and to be okay with the imperfect. Let me share with you just one of my funny stories……
We love to go to the local markets and look at fabrics. I have been hunting for some beautiful small prints that are in greens and purples. This is not an easy task here. Most fabrics are big prints and have lot’s of blues, oranges and yellows. Not my first choices. Not wanting to buy for the sake of buying or waste money, I have wrestled with finding the perfect fabric. A few weeks ago, I walked into my favourite fabric store and saw this delightful small print with green and purple. The perfect shades. Small print. I hardly had to think about whether or not I was going to get it. I unrolled it a little to discover that it had big squiggles on it. I was still okay with it. Then I discovered they were question marks. Well, although it was no longer an ideal print, I still loved the colours and thought I could live with it. I took it to the tailor and she made me a beautiful wrap skirt. As I put it on, I discovered that the question marks were backwards. Since the design is printed on the back side, the question marks swirl the wrong way on the front side. I had to laugh. This is how life is here.
This skirt is one of my favourites. It is a symbol and reminder of how little I can control. For me, it makes me smile. It makes me laugh at myself as I see how much growing and letting go I have done in the last few months. It is a statement of what I am learning to accept. Life is not black and white!
As I headed to the kitchen yesterday to make the coffee and tea, I opened the cupboard door and realized that I had spilled a lot of crumbs from the toaster oven. I hadn’t really thought it was that dirty, but I guess I underestimated. As I got closer to sweep out these supposed crumbs, I realized that they were moving and they were not crumbs at all. Upon closer inspection, I saw tunnels all along the seams of the cupboard…. they were termites.
Stepping back, I chuckled to myself, “Really? If it is not one thing, it is another!” Smiling I headed to get Stacy and let him know the ‘good news’ to start off his day. We emptied out our cupboards, took pictures of course and began the process to eliminate our new invaders. Having sprayed the chemicals, we headed out the door knowing we would have to finish this process later on.
As we sat in one of the sessions yesterday, we heard this quote that really struck both Stacy and I…..”Longevity requires a willingness to accept the grey, rather than insist on the black and white.” Life does not come in a neat and tidy package. It does not unfold how I wish it could. But when I let go and accept that reality, when I stop striving, it is easier to accept the bumps along the road. In Africa, the roads are bumpy, they are dirty, but they are fun! (This is true both literally and figuratively!) So, why not live life with a backwards question mark. I am seeing there is a lot of fun to be had, less stress and more peace. Now I wish my skirt was grey.