I have found myself thinking about other YAVs often this week. Mis amigos in Kenya, Northern Ireland, South Korea, Guatemala, Peru, and cities throughout the United States. If I have been feeling down about leaving India, how have THEY been feeling? Maybe sad, too. Maybe happy. Maybe anxious about what comes next, whether its back to school or finding a job. Or maybe anxious about the fact that they don't know what comes next at all?
I wrote the following 'note,' entitled "the trade off," on facebook in October 2007. At that time I was a sophomore at FSU and lived in one of the dorms with one of my, to this day, best friends, Levity. I have included the note below; I randomly re-read it the other day and found it appropriate for this time.
"As I sit in my mass-produced desk, in my mass-produced chair, here in my beautiful dorm with my beautiful roommate, lucky to be me, living my beautiful life, I can't help but wishing for the magic ability to whisk back to the past, to the way things used to be. To a different time, or different times, rather, when life seemed a little more carefree.
What I wouldn't give to sit in Mr. Joiner's Criminal Justice classroom, studying the familiar faces of serial killers on the cold, watchful walls. To lay on the docks at Camp Kiwanis, aware of only the sun on my face, the breeze in the air, and the rhythmic creaking of the wood. To spend quality time with Dixie on the kitchen floor, seeing no judgment in those golden-brown eyes. To walk down my pitch-black hallway, instinctually avoiding every piece of furniture. To be close to old friends, or to see familiar faces at church.
It's ironic how the things we think of as habitual, commonplace, or boring become what we associate with comfort.
Change, however, is inevitable, and requires a sacrifice of that which is comfortable. It's not all bad, though, because what we give up is surely replaced by equally wonderful--if not better--experiences and occurrences.
To not leave the comforts behind would be to sacrifice the promise and potential of what lies ahead.
We lose to gain, and we gain to lose. Life is a trade-off. It's a cyclical process that is good and necessary, though not easy. I know this, I agree with it, and I am glad for it.
But sometimes, don't you wish you could just go back, if only for a day?"
Indeed, it is unpleasant to exchange comfort for uncertainty. And my life in Kerala has become comfortable (...even without a washing machine, air conditioning, etc ;-)). Although the list of what comes to mind when I think about things I associate with comfort here is drastically different from the one above. When I think of what I associate with comfort in Kerala, I think of daily morning coffee. The smell of wet dirt after a heavy rain. The moment when I take my plates into the kitchen after eating and, without fail, find Gracy Kochamma there chopping vegetables, endlessly. Seeing Jaimol Kochamma every morning. Catch-up conversations with Jim and Maggie. Beating the table with the rhythm of the songs at evening prayer, finally being able to sing loudly, too. After school hours, not being able to walk anywhere without one or several of the boarding students hanging all over me. Listening to them as they try to express their latest thought or story or joy or sorrow in English. And so many other things...
As I mentioned in "the trade off," we human beings tend to live under the principle of inertia--we resist change. But what stands out to me, now, in the above piece, are two things: 1. the truly cyclical nature of life--there were so many things that I was missing and feeling nostalgic about as a sophomore in college...and just look at all the wonderful experiences I had then and have had since! And 2, in continuation of that thought, "to not leave the comforts behind would be to sacrifice the promise and potential of what lies ahead." If I am honest with myself, in the midst of my sadness about leaving Kerala, the "promise and potential of what lies ahead" is something of which I have not been very mindful.
Two years ago when I posted that note, a wise friend of mine, Jason, commented and responded to the question at the end and said: "Sometimes, but in a few years you will look back and have the same nostalgic memories about where you are now. If you take time to appreciate that then you will be doubly blessed." I find his observation to be as equally powerful and relevant now as I did then.
So here's to appreciating the present and being doubly blessed, and to knowing that, while good things have passed, that good things are also coming :)
"The world is round and the place which might seem like the end may only be the beginning." -Ivy Baker Priest