The last month flew by so fast! It is incredible how passing the half-way mark has re-framed things, not just for me and the other Cuso volunteers who are on the same travel timeline as me, but also for the people we work with. I am suddenly getting a lot more questions about what comes next, and am having a lot more conversations about what has yet to be done or needs to be finished before I go. Add back to school preparations at the YMCA into the mix and the month has felt like it was on fast forward.
As time goes on, I continue to feel more settled and more comfortable, but I also feel the ‘rubs’ more strongly. Many of the things that annoyed me and challenged me in the beginning, like the garbage or the traffic or the constant noise are becoming just a part of daily life. These little stresses take a toll, and it is nice to feel an ever growing sense of relaxation about the day to day.
In contrast, things like homophobia, sexual harassment, religious pressures and political corruption and apathy become more complicated to face. As an outsider, I try to approach these issues as cultural differences that require (and, out of respect for the many differences between my upbringing and this culture, deserve) patience and compassion. The more integrated I become, the less I want to tolerate these issues. I work harder, and fail more often, to bite my tongue I encounter these obstacles.
I’ve been thinking about both of these things – the release and the tension that comes with integrating – in the context of my remaining time in Jamaica, and how it feels like everything is ramping up before it winds down. I’m starting to ask myself how I want to spend my remaining days here, what I want to leave behind (in my work outcomes and in my habits), what I want to take with me (lessons and souvenirs), what I will miss, and what I will be glad to be rid of. In many ways it is premature, but given the scope of this adventure, and given my predilection towards planning, it feels reasonable to start thinking about it all now.
In addition to the busy-ness of mindfulness training and back to school preparation, I was blessed to have another visit from David last week. As always, it was wonderful to have company, and to experience some ‘normalcy’ in the midst of this ongoing adventure. I will share some of our adventures in future posts.