Thing one: I was overjoyed to learn that — if we can look at the glass half-full for a moment — the damage to Notre-Dame was much more limited than it could have been:
- Even though I saw a bunch of disheartening photos of windows missing their glass, CNN reported that all three of the massive rose windows from the 13th century along with many of the other stained glass panels survived the fire. I was sure the glass would all melt away, and I am so happy to know that much of it held out.
- The organ was also spared, as was much of the artwork.
- Many of the statues had been removed just days before, in preparation for the renovation work, so they weren’t caught in the fire.
- A bunch of priceless artifacts were rescued before they were destroyed, including the crown of thorns that means so much to Catholics.
- Had the fire reached the towers, the whole thing would have come down soon after. It didn’t, and that seems miraculous.
- According to the New York Times, almost 850 million Euros has already been raised towards rebuilding, which seems so fitting for Notre-Dame’s 850 years of history. Some have asked why money can be raised so much more easily for a cathedral in need than for people in need, but I choose to focus on the fact that there is a need and it’s being met. I think that is a wonderful thing.
Thing two: I realized that I had inadvertently already donated to the Notre-Dame rebuilding fund by responding to the World Monuments Fund‘s annual membership call the day before the fire. I gave $45 to become an Explorer-level member (usually $50 but there was a deal during the pledge drive). This means that a. I will receive a yearly magazine about the organization’s fascinating and important work to save and restore humanity’s architectural heritage, and that b. I have contributed to that work. You can, too!
Thing three: I just learned that the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. will “celebrate (and complicate) connections between Benin, Brazil, and the United States” through an exploration of their voodoo-inflected musical and cultural traditions. You know what that means?! If you can’t bring the girl back to the Vodoun Festival, you can bring the Vodoun festival back to the girl. See you in 2020, D.C.!
Thing four: The day before I left Senegal, I had breakfast with a French-Guinean journalist friend, Sarah. We caught each other up on where our respective lives had led us over the two years since we had last seen each other, and we exchanged our conjectures and semi-formed visions about where the future might take us. At some point we realized that we were both in a similar place of finally enjoying the present moment and accepting that life was not going according to our preconceived plans, but that it was working out really well anyway. Then she casually dropped the pearliest pearl of wisdom: “Life has more imagination than we do.”
I found it so profound and thought that only someone speaking a non-native language could express themselves so poetically in casual conversation. She later told me that she had actually heard the words from a friend many years ago, had held on to them, and had passed them on to me in that very apropos moment. Regardless of who said the words first, I now think of her as a poet-journalist.
I meant to post the quote sooner because I love it so much, but I’m glad I didn’t get around to it until now so that I could apply it to the horror-turned-to-wonder of Notre-Dame surviving a blaze that could have burnt it all down.
I haven’t posted an encouraging quote for awhile but I crossed paths with this one via Brain Pickings a couple of days ago and it seems eminently appropriate for the times we’re living in. To say the zeitgeist has been getting me down is an understatement. I keep coming back to the conviction that community, connection, and love is the only thing that can save me – us – from chaos and despair.
I have been saying it to myself in much less poetic and profound ways than Tennessee Williams does here, though. This is a beautifully wrapped reminder of what it means to be human.
This is the song that floored me at the first Youssou N’Dour concert
that I went to in Dakar. The song and the voice are among the most beautiful I’ve ever heard.
Missing Senegal something awful after hearing this again today.
But… in relation to Senegal and many other things, I’m reminding myself of the wise words Cheryl Strayed shared in a recent “Dear Sugars”
column in the New York Times:
“We have the strength to let go of even the things we treasure. Other treasures eventually replace them.”
Such a beautiful way to express something that is so hard to do.
Today’s quote comes directly from The New York Times’ International Women’s Day-themed Daily Briefing. And it couldn’t be more appropriate to where I’m at right now.
Also, the briefing noted that Senegal ranks in the top ten countries with the most female representation in Parliament. I had no idea. Go, Senegal!
I unexpectedly and very pleasantly had the day off, and with nothing pressing to do, I started the mammoth article I’ve been meaning to read for three months, added words to my neglected French vocabulary list while finally streaming Lemonade, ran a couple of miles at dusk, and generally lazed about doing semi-taxing but rewarding things that are only enjoyable when done at leisure. And I did indeed note that I was happy, and feel grateful for it.
I hope you are having a happy day, too.
I harbor a very strong fear of posting cheesy* motivational quotes by multi-millionaire self-help gurus on my blog, but since everything I want is on the other side of that fear, I’m doing it anyway.
*yet powerful, practical, and true
I’m not sure whether anxiety and depression are feelings, or mental states that keep you at a distance from your feelings. Regardless, a big old ball of anxiety tinged with despair has been hanging over me like that little Zoloft cloud lately, and every which way I’ve tried to fight it – or not fight it and simply get through it – has failed miserably…
…including posting this quote. Oh well. Maybe it’ll work for you.
(I don’t know whether this rightly belongs in the “inspiration and encouragement” category, but I don’t have one called “let’s all feel like shit together,” so it’ll have to do.)
Yesterday was my one-month anniversary (monniversary? mensiversary?) in Dakar, and I spent most of the day crying. But that was before I realized what day it was. At about 6pm it dawned on me that I arrived on February 15 and it was now March 15, so I took a moment to be proud of myself before returning to weepiness.
This morning I was scrolling through Instagram (where I finally started posting photos) and saw this quote on @CarolineCala‘s feed. It was exactly what I needed.
I’m by turns discouraged, lonely, bored, frustrated, overwhelmed, disconnected, hungry, nauseous, and unsure of myself here, not to mention convinced that my hair – which I am hoping to grow out as quickly as possible and which I am thus loath to trim into shape – makes me look like a socially untouchable muppet. But I’m not leaving til I finish what I started.
(PS It’s not nearly as bad as that sounds. I am in a slump right now but there have also been many moments of pure joy, confidence, excitement, chattiness, connection, and happy gorging.)
(PPS Will share photos from my trip when I figure out how to connect an Android to a Mac to upload them.)
I don’t actually need any hump day inspiration considering that I got back from vacation last night and did literally nothing at work today but hang out and hyperventilate/chatter about said vacation while extremely high on espresso and life.
I’ll share photos once I sift through all 1,500+ of them and find the gemmiest of the many, many gems… Because where I went, it was eye orgasms every which way you looked.
Hasta pronto, mis amigos! No puedo esperar para mostrar mis fotos del más magnífico vacaciones en la historia de vacaciones! (I’m still high on that coffee, fourteen hours later.)