Nothing will yank you out of a reverie faster than inhaling a cloud of tiny bugs.
While running yesterday evening, I lost myself in daydreams of where I hope to live and work in a couple of months. My body was moving down the Shamgona road, but my mind was thousands of miles away, arranging the yet-unknown details of my life. When suddenly, I ran through a thick cloud of no-see-ums. Sucking down about ten of them through both my nose and mouth, the miniscule insects snapped me back to reality. Choking on little, fluttery wings and spiky legs, I stopped dead, coughing and spitting out as many of them as I could. I'm sure that I swallowed at least one, (protein, as my dad would say) and I aspirated another far enough into the top of my windpipe that I couldn't cough it out.
That's what I get for ignoring my present mantra to stay present.
With my consciousness restored to what was in front of me, I noticed one of my fifth-grade boys riding a bike. Although the bike is too big for him, it fits him better now than it did when I first came. Back in the fall when he rode the same bike, his feet lost touch with the pedals when they bottomed-out on their revolution. He pushed on the top pedal when the other dropped out of reach and caught the opposite pedal on its way up. He had to shift his weight from one side of the seat to the other as he applied enough pressure on the rising pedal to propel himself forward. But now when he pedals, he can almost sit still in the seat and his feet just about touch the pedals through their entire cycle up and down. He has grown.
Growth. It's something that I have noticed all around me lately. The tiny, fluffy chicks are now gangly, teenage chickens who wander further and further from their mother hens in search of bugs to eat. Kitten has doubled in size, although he still hasn't grown into his ears. His lanky body stretches out the length of my lap when he sleeps there. The spring shoots in the gardens and orchards are now full-grown plants already flowering with this season's tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kiwi, mandarins, and persimmons.
The kids have grown, too. Levan has grown at least five inches, stretching out his little-boy looks to beginnings of a handsome man. The third-grade boys are now wearing capris -- pants that covered their ankles and reached their shoes on the shorter versions of themselves at the beginning of the school year.
Physical growth may be the easiest to notice, but I've seen growth in other avenues, too. Of course, my friendship with both Lika and Tea has grown -- with Tea, especially -- she is like a sister to me now. Both of the ladies have grown in their knowledge and use of English. The community's growing acceptance of me is most noticeable through a contrast of looks -- especially when I run. Most of the villagers are very familiar with me and are used to seeing me. The growth is noticeable when an old "bebia" or "babua" who has not ventured out of the house since last summer sees me running down the road. They stop and stare like everyone else used to do months ago.
I've also seen growth in myself. I have grown out of the cynical, sardonic attitude I had adopted over the last few years. I have grown to accept those things about my nature that I thought were signs of weakness (femininity, sensitivity). I have grown in my understanding of variance in culture and tradition, and given credence to the importance of both. I'm still working on growing in humility -- that's a tough one.
Growth. I know that this is a topic that I will continue to develop in my remaining posts. It is something that is at the forefront of my thinking right now as I observe and measure it all around me. And if I can stay present in my thoughts, I will see more and more of it in everyone.
And I won't inhale any more bugs.