The Power of Now
Blogo-Soundtrack: hustle and bustle of an almost-real café ‘cause I forgot my headphones
I know, I know: It’s been too long. I hope this post finds everyone well, preferably still stuffed from a delectable Turkey Day dinner. Over here in the BF, I actually got a chance to celebrate American style with my fellow volunteers at our Country Director’s house, and the food was never-ending. And delicious.
I was prepared to feed you all the same excuse for why I haven’t written in so long: nothing’s happening/it’s all so normal now/what do I even really have to say? Truth be told, however, there’s actually plenty going on (how can there not be??) and I think the real problem is that I’ve been updating this blog so infrequently that when it comes time to sit down and jot something down, I just don’t know where to begin. But today I’ll give it a shot.
For starters, you can all give me a round of applause for completing my first year in country. And, in 14 days, I will be celebrating my one-year anniversary as an official Peace Corps volunteer. [Here, I take a bow]. I can’t believe it’s already been a year, OVER a year: it’s flown by but it’s also been the longest year of my life. This is, after all, one of the most underdeveloped (and lovable) countries in the world and therefore not always the easiest place to reside. But I’ve survived, and at this moment (I’m at a high today) I am feeling motivated and excited to start my second year. The hope, of course, is that I will actually get something done. DunDunDun.
We started our garden today (!!!) and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am, because I think my lovely ladies are thrilled. Hopefully in a matter of months we will have some perfect eggplants and tomatoes and onions to show for it. This little project is showing promise for the coming year.
I also organized a huge sensibilization with the help of some of my fellow volunteers: we walked into a school and taught 120 kids about reproductive health and family planning. It was (IMHO) a huge success, namely because a) the anonymous question box threw some doozies our way, which is a good thing (like, What do I do if I want to use birth control but my husband won’t let me/What do I do if I want my partner to get tested but he won’t) because it means they were actually listening, and thinking and, b) Luis and Doug got to teach pubescent boys a thing or two about the facts of life. The success of this event was much needed, and put me in the correct state of mind to live out my last two weeks in village before my first vacation, which I will be spending stateside for the holidays. (Need I delve into the specifics of how thrilled I am? I think not.)
My (revamped) girl’s club continues to go well, though it still will likely be a little while before it truly gets back into the swing of things. Last week I blew their minds by encouraging them to get creative with some crayon drawings (they freaked out at me). This coming Saturday should also prove to be very interesting because I am going to let one of the girls lead the demonstration on proper hygiene. That’s right, she’s leading it; I will be a simple bystander (hopefully) as she teaches the girls why soap is so important. This may very well be the beginning of me working myself out of a job (properly). Update to follow.
A lot of things have been happening in my village: lots of drama, lots of gossip, lots of everything. I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water with all this, and trying to remain impartial while at the same time involved. I’m definitely no expert when it comes to this type of subtlety, but at the end of the day I have to remind myself that though this is my home today, it won’t be my home in a few years: it’s their life, their story, not mine. And in truth this has been one of my biggest struggles during my time here, as I try to reconcile wanting to be helpful with not interfering to a debilitating degree. I have yet to strike the right balance, but overall I feel as though I’m getting the hang of it as much as I’ll be able to.
With all of these projects and potential projects in mind (a world map project is next on the list) I can’t help but be slightly obsessed with the world of development and the huge failures that arise from seemingly well-meaning intentions. I could go on about this for pages and pages, but today I’m going to ride the wave of contentment and talk to you about all that jazz another day. Or, even better, face to face when I’m home for Christmas (you can write these dates in your calendar: December 14th through January 4th).
And with that, I’ll end on a new-agey note:
I have this friend (she’s actually one of my best) who has often talked to me about the book The Power of Now. I tried to read it once, as I was lounging happily under the non-African sun up at the Russian River – one of my favorite places on earth – but I couldn’t get through it. Crazily enough, however, I’ve been finding myself listening to her wonderful advice now/finally: Just Stay Present. Easier said than done, is what I wanted to yell at her through the computer as I read her kindly-meant email. But the more I think about it the more I know she’s completely right. This life that I’ve got going for myself here lends itself all too well to thinking about the past, and more scarily about the future; about all those things that I maybe could have done differently, and about all the opportunities that lay ahead (even more sleep depriving). Here I am though, exactly where I fought to be, and the silliest thing for me to do would be to escape this pretty unique experience by checking out mentally so early on in the game.
So the word of the day, even though I board a plane to go home pretty damned soon, is FOCUS. The more lengthy version would be STAY IN THE NOW, but just the tone of that transports me back to Whole Foods/Yuppie-New-Age-Central which makes me a little queezy (especially since being here), so I’ll just stick to FOCUS.