The power of Sankofa. In Ghana, West Africa, the word “Sankofa” means to 'reach back and get it.' This phrase is often symbolized by the Asante Adinkra symbol of a bird, with his head looking backwards towards the middle of his back in order to pick up an egg that had been resting there. Reach back and get it; meaning, your heritage, your history, or something from your past that was lost, but is sorely needed now. One cannot move forward without claiming the past. You must reach back and get it, and savor the gifts within your egg. The bird flies forward while looking backwards at the past, in order to assure the future journey will be fruitful. Another symbol representing Sankofa is a stylized heart; which brings me to my message. Once again, I am speaking of love.
|Sankofa-2 by StaceyTorresART|
Love has a tendency to spin things to appear to be what they are not. Like things we hope for and long for. Some of us live for it. Love can be elusive, fleeting in its appearances, and will often take leave for years; decades even. Love can come and go in and out of our lives throughout these years. And, for a few fortunate souls, love can stay and last a lifetime. But, sometimes we have to remember that love may be misplaced at times, and we think it is lost forever. Yet, if we look back to our past and gather our eggs, we move forward with clarity, and love will find us.
Not long ago, a close friend introduced me to another very close friend of hers. It was a casual introduction, certainly not intended as a “hookup” or a matchmaking effort. She was merely introducing her friends to each other. However, there was something more – much more.
Very quickly, we discovered we had more things in common than most people do in several lifetimes. Both of us had cared for our mothers, who have since passed on. We like the same things -- unusual, quirky things that few people could even relate to. Within a few short days, our lives became entwined, in a wonderful positive way, and life as I knew it would never be the same. I suppose it's safe to assume life for him has changed as well, but I won't speak on his behalf. Things are still quite new for us. Without going into details, “smitten” would be a good word to use to describe our current situation.
The grin on my face feels permanent, my outlook on life is much lighter. I am happy. I have not been nor felt happy in many, many years. I sing again. I laugh a lot more. I feel giddy … silly … much like a school girl – an almost 62 year old school girl. There is peace and sweetness in my life again, and the pain and darkness from the not too distant past is beginning to fade more and more each day.
So, what does the power of Sankofa have to do with all of this? Well, one evening during one of our marathon telephone conversations, I mentioned something about a building I once lived in many years ago in Indianapolis. This prompted some distant memories and several questions ensued. It was then that we realized we had actually met briefly 34 years ago. On that night, we shared a pot of tea and talked for hours; much like we do today. But, what happened to us? How did I let him get away? How did he? We don't know … nor do we really care. At that time in both our lives, neither of us were ready for each other in any way. We needed to grow, to live and experience love, hurt, disappointment, joys, grief and tragedy all in our own time, in our own ways. While our lives did have some parallels, we simply were not prepared to even know each other. Life had to happen. Love had to happen. And, love had to leave in order for the process to continue. Our pasts had to happen in order for us to journey towards our futures. And, as our lives began to unfold and open like a late blooming rose, love came back again.
At a time when I truly thought all was hopelessly gone … When I believed that love only happens to the young and those who have been steady on the path … When I believed it was all over for me, and I was ready to just give up on everything and resign myself to being an old cat lady (without the cats), love stepped out of the shadows and offered the egg.
My guy has an amazing mind for remembering millions of song lyrics. And he's fond of an old Cole Porter tune, “What Is This Thing Called Love?” Well, we don't know. What it is to me, may not be for him, or vice versa. However, it seems to work for us. We're just enjoying the view and basking in the comfort of each other and our new-found friendship. Last night, he told me that when he woke up in the morning, he felt completely surrounded and engulfed with love. I'm still trying to imagine what that feels like. I'll be honest, he remembers far more about that night in 1979 than I do. At first I doubted his revelation, but his recollection of the evening – of me – and other details validate our little miracle.
Last month, I wrote about what “Love Is.” It can be so many different things to everyone – it does not have to be about romance, but it should always be about passion. Your love of your family, your friends, a career, a pet … anything … Put your all into that love. As we all know, life is so terribly brief. Grab what you love and hold it dear. And, of course, give as much back – and then some. Please don't deny the ones dearest to you the knowledge that you love and care for them. Tomorrow is not a promise; nor is the next hour.
What I realize now, is love never really leaves. It stays around, but not necessarily in the way we expect or hope it will. Sometimes we don't recognize it. In my life, I know I have loved many people; and in all due respect, many men. And, I am being candid when I admit I've never been in love until now. And for what it's worth – whatever this thing called love is … whether it be for a minute, a year, or if it is the beginning of everlasting … Love is Always Here to Stay. Open your heart, and reach back and get it.
Stacey Torres is an artist, dancer, and the author of “Jewels Of My Soul,” available on www.amazon.com.
First Published in The Courier-Times, September 27, 2015