When I was a kid, my pillow was a watermelon.
Mom and dad, they were farmers, and no matter where I fell asleep, I woke up outside. Sometimes I woke up nestled in the shade of the tomato plants where my mom was weeding. Sometimes I woke up in a half-full melon bin as my dad stacked cantaloupes and honeydew around my groggy arms and legs. And sometimes I woke up in a mountain of strawberries where I could reach out and eat my breakfast without having to open both eyes.
I always dreamed of the day I'd catch them moving me. Like my friends at Christmas I would plot and plan, and I'd be sure that tomorrow would be the day. Then tomorrow would come and I'd rub my sleep crusted eyelids only to find a bright blue sky shining back at me. I'd crinkle my nose and smell fermenting fruits, green grass, and sweet blossoms.
And just like those Christmas morning children, I never felt disappointed. Nope, instead I took in every magnificent new gift around me with only a fleeting thought as to how it came to be. Not only was I magically transported from my teeny bedroom into a colorful paradise every night, but the fruits and vegetables would change nearly every day too. And no sooner would I stretch the stiffness of sleeping on watermelons out of my muscles and shake the strawberry dreams out of my head, then mom or dad would be hauling me off to the next task of the morning, the next snack, the next adventure.
I never knew what it was like to sleep in until the sun hit the blinds, or to wake up to pancakes or cocoa pebbles. But I never missed it either. I didn't know that every kid didn't wake up on a mattress of dirt and soil and fruit.
Inevitably, I grew up, and I found out that most people wake up in the very bed they fell asleep in. Now I wake up in a queen sized bed, and my pillow is comfortable, functional down.
But sometimes in those moments just before waking up, when dreams and reality are still holding hands, I swear I smell strawberries. And every morning I still need to stretch out some stiffness, because in my dreams, I was sleeping on watermelons. Nature. Food. Women. Deepening my understanding and connection to those three things. Remembering to feel the way I felt in Africa, even when I'm standing in a shopping mall. Hunting, farming, cooking, wildlife conservation, nature, adventure.
My Vision for the Future
The world is our playground. May we understand things as children do.