This morning I am sitting in my new office, a little space tucked off my bedroom, with windows on each side which allows the breeze (and no doubt the harmattan dust) to waft through. While I look into other buildings, a giant palm tree tempers this view. And while I can hear the cars blaring their horns and roaring past on Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout they are far enough away to be a dull white noise.
Because we like a challenge (ha!), we moved house a few days before we left for our Christmas holidays, all in the middle of end of year celebrations and farewell parties and the simmering guilt I had over a university assignment due just after Christmas. So in this chaos, my little office became the dumping ground for those boxes you don’t quite know what to do with. And the boxes and baskets of sewing supplies and children’s report cards and letters deemed too precious to throw away. So I took great pleasure yesterday in stacking the boxes, organizing the books and bits and pieces of clutter, and with a new 2015 diary in hand, wrote out the school holidays, and looked forward to the year ahead. I didn’t allow myself to dwell on the instabilities in the mining industry, but simply felt grateful for a lovely new apartment and a clean(-ish) desk.
I’m not one for gratitude diaries which proponents tell me will increase my daily happiness and mindfulness of the moment. But I do think it’s important to take a moment every now and then to acknowledge all the simple good in our lives. Whether we dwell on tragedies in the wider world or the frustrations of daily life, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity. I think this can be exacerbated by the challenges of living in developing countries, where a bad morning can easily spiral into a nightmarish day. And combine this with being away from old friends and family, it can add up to a fairly miserable time when we lose sight of the bigger picture.
So clinging onto the refreshment a holiday brings, here are a few things which are giving me simple pleasures at the moment:
A clean desk and the sense of opportunity it brings.
An internet connection, even sweeter when it has been off for several hours/days.
Penicillin. Thank you. To this tropically acclimatized body those European flu bugs pack a real punch.
How lucky we are to have had such a great holiday, and the greatly extended pleasure of remembering it. I’m loving sorting through our photos, admiring our new Touareg carpet and my Berber earrings. The container of Saharan sand on Jock’s bedside table sings to me of wonderful opportunity and memories.
Printer ink. Truly.
Discussions with the children. Last nights dinner special started about the importance of not offending someone’s religious beliefs vs freedom of speech, obviously in light of the Charlie Hedbo tragedy this week. But it progressed, as these things do, to about ‘being principled’, and whether Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian are principled people…how does this happen?
The really lovely comments and emails I received after my last post. It seems as though, you, the discerning reader, are happy for me to explore any and all possibilities for this blog. Sometimes it will be about the meanderings of life and sometimes about life specifically here in West Africa. I am always humbled by you taking the time to reach out to me, particularly those Ghanaians in the diaspora who read this blog to touch base with home. As a non-Ghanaian, I am humbled by your praise, and can only say ‘Akwaaba’.
Let me know, what’s giving you simple pleasures?