Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What I have learned, so far: about others & myself

I should say what I think I have learned about others and myself during these months before departure. My world seems to be evolving rapidly, so my observations today may differ from those of tomorrow. But let me try anyway.

About Others.

People seem to be divided into different groups as they try to understand why we have joined the Peace Corps.

One group I classify as the "Good Samaritans/Americans". These people believe that we have joined to help others, to better those less fortunate, and increase the prosperity of those who live in the backwaters of the world. Altruism, self-sacrifice, doing good are terms they use when talking to us.

Another group are those who think we are escaping from something. They don't know what that is yet, but are sure they will find out about it later. They conceive of ghosts in our closet. These people never say what they think.

Still another group is sure we are simply stupid to give up what we have gained over the years. They are sure we are touched by some mental illness. In other words, they can't figure it out, so the it must be us who are touched, not them. This group is typified with words like, "Ya sure", "sounds great", "awesome", and "I wish I could do that".

There is yet another group whom probably will miss us when we are gone. They seem to be figuring out what their life will be like in our absence. They face an empty hole in time. A hole we would have probably filled if we were not leaving. This is the most difficult group to confront, because they leave a hole in our life too.

About myself.

What I have learned about myself may be delusional, but I believe it anyway.

Stuff... Collected over the years. The measure of your success. The incessant rhythm of our society... has become just, stuff. Junk, crap, garbage. The joy of getting rid of it seems better that the pleasure of accumulating it. The decision as to what to keep, what to discard, defines what you consider important. Houses, furniture, cars go. The photographs, cassette tapes of children/parents, VHS videos, scarps of paper with words, mementos from people and places, these are the things put into boxes for when we return.

Faith. Not faith in God, but faith in others. Faith in human beings to do the right thing and to make the right decisions. For when you distance yourself from those closest to you, you lose what little influence you may have had on them. And, faith in those people whom you are about to meet to guide you and keep you from harm.

Fears. Fears, yes I have a few. I wonder what I will be like after the Peace Corps. Will I be like "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold"? A person whose experiences in another world, make him a stranger in the world he once inhabited. How will I appear to others, others to me? Do I become a mental constant traveler?

Excitement. There is a rush in preparing for the Peace Corps. Almost like taking a drug. The immensity of going doesn't seem real. Time is flying by. Major events in my life are happening every day, yet I am almost ambivalent about them. I am ready to go, now.

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