I never thought that sitting outside, the rays of the sun kissing my face and dancing off of my dark skin would feel so rare and necessary. Today is my 53rd day in some type of self-quarantine or shelter-in-place since returning from Thailand at the end of February. I didn’t know when I was on my last flight from Tokyo to San Francisco that it would be my last international trip for the foreseeable future. I didn’t know that the two weeks of self-quarantine I was prepared to enter would go from 14 days…to 25..to 40…until now.
My friends often characterize me as someone who “doesn’t like nature.” But that is far from the truth. I don’t like camping, but I love the earth. (People who think that camping is the only way to love the Mother Nature and this earth have never spent a summer running between plants and trees, spending time with them so you can call them by their names or sat on the precipices of cliffs drinking in the vastness of this planet.)
As early as I could remember, I’ve loved being outside, dirt between my toes (I hate shoes), wind in my hair, and stretches of earth’s landscapes in front of me. People of African descent are people of the earth — the way we return to the red clay of our Mother Continent and seek in her wisdom, the secrets of this world and the medicine to thrive in it. My mother has long taught me to respect the earth and all that she has provided; we grew strong on eating the wide variety of fruits and vegetables and grains of the earth, and we knew which foods and plants could heal or harm us. I still remember when I lived in Ghana how onions helped calm the ache in my tooth until I could get help for it or every moment in which lavender has soothed my soul.
I cling to the death and rebirth of the planet. How it has taught me that seasons are temporary and that things that die do not have to stay gone forever. I can ebb, knowing that wholeness will be in sight again.
When I think now of how the earth is responding in these times, I don’t go to the dangerous lines of discussionon how people are the virus. No — too many people have used such lines of thought to destroy my people. Instead I think about the word ‘return,’ and how I long to just dig my toes in red dirt and feel the firmness underneath me andbe held.
Sacred. Present. Whole.