January 29, 2012
I can’t recall the last time I felt so content, the product of a good sleep, a satisfying meal, and a sense of mission.
My severe-looking bed turns out to be quite comfortable, and with two wool blankets I stayed plenty warm.
After rising at 5:00, I fired up the hot-water pot, drank coffee, and read from Bron Taylor’s Dark Green Religion: Nature, Spirituality, and the Planetary Future, a book that celebrates Thoreau but actually relates in powerful ways to much of the 20th-century American literature I will read with my students. Think of Willy Loman longing for a garden to plant, or Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim finding some peace in a world of fire-bombings in his Buddha-like discovery of the simultaneity of every moment. More on this later.
Then breakfast: cranberry juice and yogurt (both chilled on my balcony) as well as a tomato, a banana, a chunk of cheese, and an even chunkier slice of bread. Such basic food satisfies deeply, and I’m certain that the pleasure comes as much from touch as from taste and smell.
My ‘mission’? To teach my Kosovaran students American literature by helping them to grow as writers and researchers, yes, but—even more fundamentally—to teach myself to listen and to lose myself in others’ stories.
But my rich experiences here come at a heavy price: my separation from Judy and from all the people and critters I love. Skyping helps, but I know that days will come when the mission fails and even electronics can’t bridge the gap between here and home.