Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time and Purpose

I have a problem with time. It's moving too quickly! Exams are over, my marks are completed and my teacher career is almost past the finish line. This Saturday is my farewell party. There are people coming in from town, Deorham and, of course, all over Loopeng. I will be back "home" in upstate New York in three weeks.

I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm a little bit nauseous. I'm frantic. I haven't started packing! I'm surprised. I never once thought time would move so quickly. I thought this experience would never end, and now it almost has.

I've made an uneasy peace with the work I got done. I did my best. Maybe it was enough and maybe it wasn't, but the whole Peace Corps experience was a net positive for both myself and the various places I worked. I'm content.

Loopeng will be a difficult place to leave. Just yesterday I went for lovely walk along the riverbed and discovered a part of the village that was entirely new to me. After all the time I've spent here, and I'm still learning and seeing new things. My favorite discovery was one of those balloon-ish flowers that opens only at night. This one is huge, and tucked right up against the village's largest thoroughfare. I must have walked right past before. Now, I'm trying to soak up every detail.

People keep asking when I'll come back. I have no idea. I want to come back and visit, but I don't think "coming back" is really possible. I can't come back to my life here. I'm sure I'll wish I could. As rough as it's been, it has its charms.

Another Peace Corps friend wrote to me recently about readjusting to life back in the States. What she missed most about life here really resonated with me: living a life with purpose.

Lots of people have purpose in their lives. Teachers influence young lives, doctors save them, families raise them. But many people don't. Many people just get up everyday and go to work. For what? To earn a paycheck? To earn money for an anonymous corporation? For nothing?

Life as a Peace Corps volunteer has purpose: make the world a better place. The task may be entirely impossible, but it's there. It's something to strive for, to get out of bed for, day after day, disaster after disaster. I hope my return to America doesn't mean a return to my prior life as a purpose-less amoeba.

Tomorrow's a big day. I'm headed to town to blow my entire paycheck on party supplies. My family's borrowed a grill and invested in a new soundsystem. I'm going to buy wors and pap and beer. I may be leaving soon, but I'm going out with a bang!