There is a nightjar cooing softly in the forest, a somber tune from such a somber bird. That is the thing about nightjars--being nocturnal and notoriously shy, they are rarely seen but often only heard. It is as if they live in dreams only and in our faith that things hidden by the night are not forever dark.
Quiet tropical evenings like this usually lead me, after a beer and a cigar, into a state of deep introspection. Sometimes it seems as if the beads of sweat on my forehead bring to the surface both questions and memories from deep within me. This time spent alone with a few chemicals surging through my veins has the power of philosophy and it imbues me, in my inebriated, asphyxiated mind at least, with the sensorial and deductive abilities of the gods--for these moments at least. In the end, each evening so spent inevitably ends in a fitful, humid sleep under a fan wondering at the passing hours. I don’t know why I find such trials so liberating, or why I seek out this masochistic solitude with such suicidal zeal. I fancy myself a tiny Sisyphus, perhaps. Or maybe I am just running from the world. But what I really think is that all of this has more to do (as so many things in life seem to) with the words of Bukowski: find what you love and let it kill you.
Find what you love.
Let it kill you.
Or to rephrase some other words, also by the infamous Buke: make death tremble to take you.
I am here at a guest house in the middle of a nowhere town in the middle of nowhere in Ghana. There is a small courtyard outside my window with bananas and papayas growing, as well as a fledgling mango tree with fruit just on the cusp of ripe perfection. My favorite thing about mango trees is that, when they are ready, the air becomes heavy like the ocean with their seductive aroma. I could live on their smell alone. The birds, understandably enticed by these same forces, dodge and dive past me on their various errands and the lizards sprint up the walls.
I am waiting. Waiting for my field work to begin in earnest. I may have a schedule I feel compelled to keep, but that is of little concern to the world. As of Monday, I will begin the slow process of getting to know a few rural communities, talking to the farmers and the fishermen, asking questions that to them, seem silly and self-evident, but nonetheless fascinate me to no end. Until then, I have a few rain-soaked, cloud-covered days to read and write and to take long dives into the philosophical, metaphysical musings that the heat and humidity tease from my mind.
Glad to be back in the field.