January 19, 2009

Pondering Life's Big Questions

So this was just some random writing I did in my journal. I didn't intend it to be a blog post, but I got into thoughts on being here and life here and life in general and all that. I'm a little hesitant to post it here, but I think it could be interesting for some of you. So I hope it is.

So, I just broke my foot last week and am currently on medical hold. We swore-in as official PC volunteers about 4 days ago and my entire training group went back to their respective sites 2 days ago. So I am just hanging out here in the capital at the PC house until my foot heals. I’m hoping to only be here a week, but probably it will be more like two or three. It would be really fun if I could walk around, but it’s such a pain to get anywhere—ie. crutching 100 yards to the street to get a car, crutching from where I get dropped off by the car, etc. But I’m managing way better than I thought I would be. I go out, I went dancing. It’s pretty awesome. I’m really proud of myself for going around and being able to do almost all of the things everyone else can do.

Life here other than that—well, it hasn’t really started. I finished training last week and won’t be back at site to start working as an official PC volunteer for another few weeks, until my foot heals.

So I just re-read the first sentence of that paragraph—that life hasn’t really started, or won’t start until I get to site. And I don’t know why it feels that way? Right now, I am staying in Kombo (the capital area). and like I said, I don’t really feel like this is life, like I’m doing anything meaningful. But I feel fine and happy, because I know that my time here is limited and I will be leaving in a week or so for site, where my life will start. But why is it that I feel like this isn't really life? And instead of this bothering me, it actually allows me to feel happy and stressfree. It’s the thought of going back to site for the next 2 years—starting life, actually living life—that scares me to death.

I’ve tried to figure out why the idea of going to site is so scary. Until now, during training, I had a schedule for every hour of every day—learning Mandinka, doing health stuff, etc. But in one week or two weeks or whenever I actually get back to my site, I will have absolutely NO schedule AT ALL. And when I arrive and have every hour of every day totally free for the next two years and can’t segment out my life, I think I will freak out. But, I can’t actually figure out what it is that is scary—maybe it’s just having so much free time, not knowing what on earth I am going to do with myself everyday. But would being super busy in the states really be better? Is it, in fact, easier to have a crazy schedule that includes 10 hrs a day in an office than it is to have a totally open schedule all day, everyday? I don’t know… In all honestly though, I think it probably would be/ is a lot harder to be happy in the US. And I think I will have just as many highs and lows here as I would were I living in the states for two years.

So then I try to sit and figure out why I am so afraid to have so much free time—to live without schedules and endpoints. I guess it forces you to live in the present. But I just can’t pinpoint why it is so scary or, actually, so hard to just be present, to just live in the present? I don’t know… Does everyone working some 9-5 office job with no end in sight feel this impending fear? Is that life? I don’t know. I have no idea.

And I mean, really, there is an end in sight for me. I am here for only 2 years. But after that I will leave here and then what? Maybe I will go to grad school. And then what? When does life actually start? I mean, I know this is life now, but why do we always have to be working towards something, or looking forward to something to be happy and feel alive. Why can’t you live every day for that day, and not look towards the future. Why is it so hard to feel alive or fulfilled just by living in the present—being happy, forming relationships, bettering yourself?

For the first three months at site, called three-month challenge, you’re not supposed to start any big projects or anything (in fact, some PC people advise you to wait at least a year to start a big project or to not even do one at all, and instead to focus on more grassroots activities). So for the next three months, I am expected to do nothing but fully immerse myself into my family and village. Most people get really antsy during that time and feel like they need to be doing something. But I’m really looking forward to just hanging out and I don’t think that will happen to me, because, well, I’m lazy and usually content just doing nothing.

So, I hope that during these next three months, and next two years, I will learn that I can keep myself happy here even if I’m not working towards some big goal—that I can live in the present, enjoying each day, without having to constantly look towards the future. I hope to accept that I’m not going to change the world or end poverty or anything like that in two years and that’s ok. That just by learning about this culture and how to live a different way of life I am working towards something. And if I spend each day here working to be a less judgmental person, trying to gain a deeper appreciation of life and a making new friends— then, my time here and life as a whole will be a success.


Lindsay said...

Marn - I think it's great that you're so in touch with your feelings and your experiences. It would be unimaginable for you NOT to be scared and nervous as you begin your time at your site. But, I think you have a great, positive attitude and with that, will do amazing things. Love you!

Whitney said...

i agree with linds. i am so proud of you and amazed at all that you are doing. i can't imagine anyone with a bigger thirst for learning and living.