Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weathering the Storms

"She stood in the storm, 
and when the wind did not blow her way, 
she adjusted her sails."

- Elizabeth Edwards

I'm attempting to document an authentic Peace Corps experience, authentic life serving in Jamaica, and authentic humanity. However, because I am writing as an employee of the American Government and because I have to consider our safety as foreigners, I cannot share every last thought and event with you. Please bear this in mind as you read this post.

morning run in Negril, Westmoreland

I said goodbye to Rosend on Monday past. A few things have been eating away at my mental stability over the past few months. After spending a splendidly calm and introspective weekend with my Safety & Security Coordinator's family, I called my Program Manager on Monday morning to gain insight on perspective. I wanted to know if the things I have been wrestling with are unique to me or something that most PCVs struggle with here in Ja. Turns out that they are unique.

My more-than-supportive PM gave me exactly 5 hours to gather everything and inform the appropriate parties that I would not be returning to site. I've been marinating my thoughts in the option of a site change for weeks now. But I've been holding onto one thing: relationships. Relationships with the children in my yard and relationships with my incredible site mates. Unfortunately, the cons eventually outweighed the pros.

Thus, I have to move on, to a new place on the Jam Rock.

For now, this means living out of suitcases (again). It means starting all over (again) in a new place. But it also means the opportunity for growth in a different way than I could have predicted. And it means continuing to trust in that which I cannot see or explain.

I'm adjusting my sails and begging the wind to continue blowing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On the Other Side

So many times I sit down to type a little something, attempting to construct my overflowing mind into sensible, entertaining, and thought-provoking words. Being articulate and interesting is more difficult than I like wish it was. I visit other blogs and wish I could captivate my audience as they do. I see creativity and wish I were more original in my approach. I think I have lots of interesting things to tell the other side of the world, but others just do it so well already.

Today is one of those days. My heart is brimming with emotions and a desire to chat about my latest musings with you. I want to have a conversation about life with you. I want to share with you. I want to understand how you relate. So here's what's on my mind today:

Struggle for survival. I'm using this both figuratively and realistically.  Crime rises as the holidays approach. Our area is still struggling to recover from the hurricane and continues to flood as the rainy season persists. The struggle to survive is just as much mental as it is physical. How we feel has a huge effect on what we think, and visa-versa. Everyone seems to be in an apathetic funk. I'm having a hard time trying to be an effective change agent. We are taking each day as it comes, one little step at a time. Anything more may just be too much.

Perception is not always reality. I attended a well-facilitated seminar last weekend about understanding cultural boundaries. On one poster we wrote things that others stereotype us personally about. On another poster we wrote things that we stereotype Jamaicans about. It was a very interesting time thinking through cultural stereotypes and norms, talking about right from wrong and who decides why. Maybe I'll work on writing about this in more detail later.

Judging others. Throughout my life--and especially in the recent past--friends have told me that when they first met me, they were afraid of being judged. This came as a surprise at first, but I soon realized why. I have a distinct (and somewhat predictable) set of morals that every last person does not share. This is not a bad thing. But those who do not share them often think that I will judge them accordingly. Lies. Thinking that I will judge you is, in fact, you judging me. This ties into stereotypes and perceptions we hold of one another. I guess I'm learning to approach it all in a different way.

Complaining. Complaining is mostly a selfish action. I'm sure we can think of good things to complain about (fairness, health, and so forth). However, living in a spirit of complaint is toxic. It's toxic to our own attitudes and perceptions, and it's toxic to those that we complain to and with. Upon being given a second chance to continue PC service, I set the goal to limit complaining. I have failed. The opposite of complaining is thanksgiving. Thankfully, we are given second and third and fourth chances.

"To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask for or imagine...."

Lord, save me from myself.