I’ve been doing a lot of things to keep busy these last few weeks.
There’s been plenty of packing and, with that, plenty of trips to the store to buy something I’d forgotten or hadn’t yet thought of.
There’s been more paperwork (of course) and at least one trip back to the doctor for a shot.
There’s been a lot of downloading, ripping, burning, charging and organizing on the trusty laptop. I’ve managed to build a sizeable collection of movies, music and programs to trade with my fellow PCV’s in Africa – No RedBox there (I’m assuming). Tradable data is apparently a hot commodity down there since many of the volunteers spend their downtime without a TV. It’s a good emotional connection too, I think. It reminds you of home and what you left behind. I think it can also put things into perspective. I’m half-tempted to find a copy of The Real House Wives of New Jersey because I feel that their problems would be comedic –gold in South Africa.
At times, I want to bury myself in things to worry about. When I keep my mind on where I’m going, I’m able to avoid thinking about the hardest part stateside: saying goodbye.
My journey begins the day after Independence Day (my last US holiday for a while). I’m going to spend it with friends and family and try to forget about the day ahead of it – not because I’m scared to leave or afraid of the journey, but because I know there is an entire two years of beautiful experiences that will go missed in my absence.
That’s a heavy thought.
It’s the kind of thought that doesn’t really start churning its way through the mind until you shut the lights off to go to sleep. It’s the kind of thought that comes back to haunt you when you realize that this is the last time you’ll drive a car for two years. Or pet the cats for the maybe-last time. Or meet up with friends that you know will probably drift out of touch during the time between.
There is no doubt that Peace Corps is what I want to do. I hear people saying that the world is becoming a darker place every day and that mankind is so depraved, so wicked and so deceitful that there is no hope for us at all. I used to think that too.
If you believe that, then the natural question that should follow is, “What are you doing to change it?”
I believe that wherever there are people, there is also Goodness – not the kind of “light vs. dark” kind of goodness, or Jesus’ salvation kind of goodness. Rather, this is a kind of general, basic warmth of human connection between individuals. It’s older than the United States, older than books of empires and the emperors themselves. It spreads out from the cover of clandestine night and is etched and painted on the walls of the caves from which we came.
It is the compliment that turns your day. The “wholeness” that exists when a family is together. It is music sung in the car, it is forgiveness, it is politeness, it is supporting beliefs that you don’t agree with because someone you love does.
There is a world of Goodness out there, but it exists in a privileged fashion here in the States. Our circumstance is such that we take all these things for granted but thrust into an uncompromising situation, these would be the things we would cherish most. This common kind of Goodness is the heartbeat of our species. It keeps us alive daily; a lack of it would most certainly go noticed but its abundance and steady thump-thump-thump goes so unappreciated.
And so unreturned.
I have a rich life and I have been lucky to be a part of the lives of others who have so fed my own. It is because of this that leaving them will tear like Velcro, but it is also for this reason that I feel so compelled to share and discover this same Goodness elsewhere. We’re all of us part of an amazing family on an extraordinary planet presumptuous enough to boast a loud variety of living things. What a tragedy it is when we fail to bear witness to its full beauty. Greater shame still, when we do not extend our reach just enough to be a part of it and wonder at how such a thing can be a some thing at all.
It’s 5:10a.m. July 5th as I write these words. I would love to sleep but I didn’t really have much hope of that happening. I went ahead and spent the rest of the night tugging and pushing and straining and zipping my luggage into the right proportions. While I’m a little worried about being able to carry all of it at one time, no one item is especially weighty and I feel that the whole of it will fall short of the required weight limit of 80pds.
For those of you wondering, this is what two years of luggage looks like for me:
1 x Rolling Suitcase ~ 30 pds
1 x PACKED Duffel ~ 15-20pds
1 x Acoustic Guitar ~ 10pds (I will take this as carry-on)
1 x Side Bag Carry-on ~ 5pds