This week as I've settled back into the slightly mad life of a human rights officer in Afghanistan I feel as though I'm living another equally rich, exciting life that nobody around me has any idea about.
My colleagues are happy to see me back (if not for my sparkling personality then at least because I can pick up my share of the work load again) and they all ask about my week in the UK. I tell them a little, focusing on the fabulous and unseasonably warm weather, the freedom to roam about the streets and to go for gentle jogs in the parks. I tell them about seeing my family and friends. I tell my Afghan colleague who helped me pick out the jewelry I took as gifts about how well recieved it all was. I tell them about dinner for my cousin's 21st birthday party, about going to yoga classes and eating at sushi bars. It is all true and was all wonderful, but it doesn't come close to the real wonder of my week.
The real treats of the week were at once much more subtle and much more spectacular. They include:
- spending almost enough time with my very precious, loyal and wise friend Immy. Whether walking in Kew Gardens, eating sushi in Soho, doing our sun salutations side-by-side or drooling over psychology and sociology books in the huge Waterstones in Picadilly Circus we barely stopped talking long enough to take breath. This woman knows and loves me well enough to tell me the truth, and I love and respect her enough to listen, and that's a combination a girl needs regular doses of in her life.
- talking so animatedly, honestly and engagingly with my aunt that our quick morning coffee lasted two hours and she left for work several hours after she was supposed to be there, and in the process remembering how much I love my family and how much they love me, despite all of our respective quirks
- spending time with a new friend whose generosity, intelligence, wit and passion exceeded even the high expectations I had formed based on her great blog, with whom I could talk for endless hours without ever getting bored and who shared with me a little corner of London that felt like a fantasy Saturday afternoon come true
- meeting a true soulmate, a woman whose honesty, beauty and sense of humour made me feel right at home from the first hug and smile, an angel who drew me a map to the spot where I could tell my story and start my healing
- finding someone who didn't just listen to the story of my dark winter months, but who had a degree in dark winters Someone who could help me see more clearly how and why they came about, who could tell me what i was doing that was good and healing and who could point me in the direction of more healing, more peace
- learning seated meditation from a man who is not just a respected member of the international Shambhala Community, but who worked for Amnesty International for 25 years, and who therefore who understood my job, my life and my struggles in a way that probably only one in a million meditation teachers could
- attending a yoga class taught by the very special childhood friend of one of my dearest friends and all time favorite women.
And there was more, believe it or not.
I arrived back in Afghanistan armed with:
- fabulous papers and other treats for collaging (gift from a generous and kind friend, thanks sweetie!);
- books by wise women to keep me company when my real ladies are too far away (Natalie Goldberg, Pema Chodron, Iris Murdoch, yay!);
- lots of new music on my iPod (bloggers rock!);
- a new and improved seated meditation technique (keep the eyes open and learn to carry the practice out with you into the world, yes that makes sense to me);
- a big stack of new Moleskins to fill; and
- a renewed sense of fun, of lightness and of hope for the world and for me.