Trying to write a blog post about Peace Corps is an interesting thing. I keep thinking that I should be explaining the day to day life that I lead and tell you all about Turkish Toilets, the garden project I’m working on, the café that I sit at each day, and the general lack of insulation that Moroccan houses have. But when it comes time to put all this information down on paper it seems lacking. The biggest moments in my day to day life are internal.
Integrating into a completely new culture forces you to seriously self reflect. At home I often feel defined by those around me. My family and friends know me. They know my faults and my strengths, my shortcomings and my successes. None of that matters here. I am defined daily by each new person that I meet…. It’s a dangerous place to be if you don’t have a solid definition of self!
And so, as I walk through the town that will be my home for the next two years, I find myself thinking about how I am viewed by others and, more importantly, how I view myself. It’s my own little crisis of identity.
Travel seems to limit your natural (or learned) inclinations to judge, be quick to anger, be close-minded, or make any assumptions about anything, ever! It’s as though the world acts as a counterbalance against all the things you thought you knew, and that includes much of what you knew about yourself.
So what has come of all this self reflection?
For starters, I’m pleased to say that I like where I’m at (always a good first step). There is a lot for me to learn but I feel like I’m starting from a pretty good base (Thanks Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends for that!). Over the next two years I’m hoping to get an idea of what motivates me and how I can chase it. I’m looking forward to working with others in new ways. I’m interested in learning if I like living outside the US for an extended period of time, away from friends and family. I guess the whole point is that this experience is allowing me to grow as a person, and that’s always a good thing.
I’d like to end this post with some great, inspiring quote about how great Peace Corps is and such but the quote that has stuck with me this week is from the book I’m reading, The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov (tip-o-the-hat to Danny for the rec.) It’s just great imagery and is a good reminder, during this holiday season, of how a simple life can be grand.
“When the May thunderstorms came, and water rushed past the blurred windows and through the gateway, threatening to inundate the lovers’ last refuge, they would light the stove and bake potatoes. Steam poured off the potatoes, the charred potato skins made their fingers black. There was laughter in the basement, and after the rain the trees in the garden would shed broken twigs and clusters of white flowers.”
I hope this post finds you well, living the life you seek, with laughter, love, and charred potato skins that make your fingers black.
P.S. Extra special thanks to the Kirkpatricks, Reingardts, and Drays for the Christmas Cards! My first mail in Morocco!