Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How and Why

This is an idea I have been thinking about for a while, but did not have my head wrapped fully around it or maybe did not know if this was something I would need to explain to friends, family myself and new acquaintances. But when you plan to go abroad (for me this is to Senegal from the United States) for a few years people start to wonder why, if you are right in the head, and think that 2 years is a very long time.
Baobab Trees in Senegal

The article "Regrets of the Dying" written by former palliative caretaker Bonnie Ware helps sum up some of the reasons I am doing this. Some people look back at their lives and have regrets. I hope to not be one of those people.

Serving in the Peace Corps will be a life changing experience in ways I can not even start to comprehend at this point, but living abroad and being immersed in another culture for a few years is, I think, a whole other bag of worms. Good or bad, you learn more about yourself and other human beings (good or bad) on this planet by living within non familiar culture for a few years. You are able to build bonds, understanding and a life that being there for few months you might not be able to do.

2012/02 Gagan Diesh - I'm not a creative, I solve problems creatively. from CreativeMornings/Vancouver on Vimeo discusses the difference between what you do, why what do you do matters, and how does it impact the people's lives that it touches. With my degree being in design, I think about these things. Frankly I have a hard time creating things because of this. Fashion design is one of the most wasteful industries which makes if difficult for me to work in an industry that is slowly making a better way of making things.

How am I going to do this?
This statement makes me think of the phrase "Even the dumb squirrel finds a nut". Life is what you make of it and I think that life can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be. I am not saying that everyone wants an easy life has it and that hard life is brought on it by yourself. But many people have more choice than they know and I think in many cases they simply do not exercise that choice.

Author Martha Beck writes about how many people "[n]ever ask themselves why" what their consistent purpose of doing the things they do is in her book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. Her way to solve this is ask the purpose for what your doing and then ask the purpose of that until you find a consistent answer.  Interestingly enough my answer is because it's something I have wanted to do all my life. This is coming from a girl, that for the life of her, can not remember what she wanted to do when she grew up. Go figure.

It's not hard to take a leap of faith if you are naive enough to not know what your doing before you actually get there. I have done that before with a few projects. By the time you are knee deep in it, there is simply no turning back and it's better to cuss your way through it than to loose face by giving it up. Right, I'm sure I'm not the only on that has been there. Am I crazy? Maybe. But that's okay. I might just find my nut.

Why am I doing this?
Why not? The U.S. economy isn't exactly the greatest right now. After graduating college in 2006 I was laid off not once but twice within a few years. Honestly I am more than happy to go to a country that living off a few dollars a day is being rich. I'm not saying that it will be easy. But show me a place that there isn't something to complain about. It's all relative and depends upon what you are able to tolerate.

That being said, 2 years is a long time, if you are counting the days as they pass and looking forward to going home. I think of all the things I could have done n 2 years if I knew I had the time and foresight to plan ahead. In some ways preparing to leave for this trip makes me think of even more things to put on my life list not only because they are things I want to do, but frankly, handy when traveling. Teaching English as a foreign language certificate, paramedic training, writing a book and interviewing more people about their adventures are just a few.

I am doing this because if I didn't I would have wished I did. I'm doing this because a few people didn't think I could and others want me to stay. I'm doing this because I can and sure I will be a better person for doing so. Hopefully.


  1. I love that you are going on this venture. Sure, I would like to have you close by, but you will be back and all the richer for having this experience. It's a bold choice, but certainly not an easy one. I hope I raise my daughter to have the guts to try... just go out and try and really live life like this. Kudos to you.

  2. Hi Megan, thanks for asking about the book. I haven't actually mentioned it recently on the blog because it is sort of on hiatus until we return to Africa. But I have an agent in New York who has taken on the project, we are in the proposal-writing process right now and the book is in the third of many drafts. It fits in the category of 'spiritual memoir' with some Africa and family adventures tied in. I'm really excited about it!

    Good luck on your peace corps journey!

  3. Thanks Jo!

    And thank you Rachel! I am very excited to hear more as your book develops and to read it when it comes out!!