Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Onwards to the Horizon

So. This is it. It all comes to an end. I'm currently sitting at a computer at the Peace Corps office in Manila. I have just finished all of my closing paperwork and am merely waiting on my medical approval. As of tomorrow morning I will be a RPCV (returned Peace Corps volunteer), even if I am yet to return to America. I will also be a "tourist" again, at least according to my visa. I'm feeling such a mixture of strong emotions at the moment its hard to express them all in words. I'm excited for my travels to come, I'm so sad to be leaving such amazing friends and family, I'm so excited that I will soon see other amazing friends and family that I have missed so dearly over the past years, I'm nervous about the uncertainty of my future regarding work/school/finances, and I'm proud of the work and goals I have accomplished in the passed 33 months. It’s all overwhelming!

Quickly approaching, if not all ready arrived, is the one of those "transition" periods in life. They involve so much, evoke such emotions, and its so exciting and scary at the same time. I love these periods. I feel most alive during them. I hope to open myself up to it and accept and prepare for the next challenges in life.

Before I embark on this transition stage however I want to take a moment to thank each and everyone of you that are reading this. If it wasn't for your support and friendship over this past 3 years I never would have made it into the Peace Corps, let alone have made it through it in such an positive manner. Each of you has been amazing, from packages, to cards, to emails, to text messages, to phone calls, to visits. It’s showed me how incomprehensively lucky I am to know and have such brilliant, giving, and supportive people in my life. I love you all and owe you each a debt of gratitude. May the sun always shine on each of you!

To my Filipino friends that read this, salamat gid sa tanan. Paglakat na ko, mahidlaw ko gid sang mga lugar sa Filipinas, pero pila ka hidlaw ako sang mga tawo sa Filipinas. Salamat gid sa mga bulig nyo, sa mga support nyo, sa mga friendships nyo. Syiempre indi ko manalipat ang Philippines, sa Philippines may mga amigo ko kag may mga family ko. Syeimpre mabalik ako so lugar nyo. Grabi gid kamo tanan!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Who and where am I?

This past weekend I traveled to my first host family’s house, which is located on the other side of the Panay Island, in the province of Capiz. This was the beginning of the end for my Peace Corps service. It was the first of many good byes I will be saying over the coming weeks. Upon arriving on Friday afternoon I found myself alone, standing outside, looking out over the surrounding area. I found myself in a reflective state, thinking back to April 2005 when I had first arrived to that spot, after only 8 days in the Philippines. I remembered being nervous, scared, excited, and completely unknowing of what the future would bring my way. It was the last time I remember thinking about "why" I had joined the Peace Corps. That was the moment when the "click click click" of going up a roller coaster stopped and the rush of going down started. Now, 32 months later, the ride is nearly over.

Before I left for the Peace Corps I was consistently asked why I had joined. This is no easy question. There are multitudes of answers, all of them are just as true as the next; to make a difference, explore the world, learn about myself, for the adventure, to change the world, the experience, etc. However I found myself falling back and giving one response more than any other. I want to make myself a better person, and in turn make the world a better place.

While standing in the front of my first host families house I thought back to the first time I had stood there and the intensity of it all; all my expectations, the unknown adventure that lay just ahead of me. Now standing their again I began to process. Somehow throughout it all, over the last 2 1/2 years, I had failed to take stock of what was happening to me, to realize if I was changing. Before I new it, as I have mentioned many times on this blog and to many of you, my life in the Philippines became just life. Nothing extraordinary, yet extraordinary in the since that it was my life. For the first time since starting my new life here I began to analyze what had taken place. What had happened? Who I was now versus who I was then.

Answer: I am completely clueless. Since stirring these questions awake I have yet to get a full night sleep, not from anxiety but just from deep down curiosity. This type of reflection is very healthy and I enjoy it very much, but I do not expect answers to come easily. That is okay though, there is no rush. I have time.

I did realize some things of immense importance to myself. I still wake up each morning and look at myself in the mirror and I am happy with who I see. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a analytical way. I look myself in my own eyes and I ask myself "is that a good person standing in front of me?" No one else on this planet can look in your eyes and really see the true answers to that question except yourself. Even then the true answers can still try and hide. This act of looking at myself in a mirror I have done since I was in high school. It is a lesson that my Father taught me. I have found great amounts of solace in. I am my own judge in this world, often I am the toughest, and I am the only one who’s opinion matters in the end.

I don't know if I'm a better person as a result of the last 2 1/2 years, but I do know I am still proud of what I see in the mirror. Perhaps this would mean very little to the me of nearly 3 years ago; perhaps this is how I grew. To the present me this as important to life as water. It matters not if I am lucky or unlucky, rich or poor, single or otherwise, blessed or cursed. I can honestly say that I would choose the lesser of all the previous if it meant I still found the person standing in front of me, the person looking deep inside my eyes, the person in the mirror, was still a good person; if I still took pride in being that person.

I do. And I aim to keep it that way. As long as I accomplish that small, immensly important, task I am making the world a better place.