“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully.” — Maya Angelou
WOOF! I can’t help but get excited about the fact that really…. every day that goes by is ONE DAY closer to going home! Conversations are peppered with plans for the future (GRE and Foreign Service Exams, Resumes, Internships, COS trips, GRAD school, location plans) all of it SO EXCITING!!!
But then… of course… reality comes a’knockin at the door with a daily notice that are still PLENTY of days left (less than 300 though – but who is counting?). These days that go by…. I am not treating them with much respect. Watching them go by and doing a small fist pump for every day that I can cross off on the calender is not exactly appreciation. Every once in awhile… I hear Aretha in my ear prompting me to pay attention to the moments… pay attention to the people in front of me- the ones who truly deserve my respect and attention.
So little by little… I am attempting to grow as a person and be more IN the moment. I am the type of person who is always looking forward to the next thing. So one of the most difficult aspects of Peace Corps for me has been time.
For those that don’t know… I like me some structure.
Schedules… folders…meetings… whew- color code everything and I’m likely to swoon!
Sitting around… waiting…things changed at the last minute… planning a meeting and sometimes never having it happen OR everyone is there and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IMPORTANT IS TALKED ABOUT…showing up at some place and having the event start two or three hours later? My tiny little reliable scheduler was constantly screaming: “WHAT!??!?!??!?!”
Obviously, the structured part of me went really really crazy for awhile. I never realized how color coding things helped me feel in control… and how that control made me feel composed. At first, my need for structure went into overdrive. I attempted to control almost everything … especially my own personal schedule (Wake up at 8; Exercise at 9; read from 10-12; facebook 12-1; make lunch 1-3 …wheew EXHAUSTING!). Which led me to try AGAIN and AGAIN to control my time with Moroccans- meetings, classes, etc. etc. Which leads to one tired, frustrated Amber. I am not sure if you all have met her, but let’s just say…she isn’t very fun.
HOWEVER, I am happy to report that after 15 months, I am on my way to being a recovered scheduler.
Amber: Yes, Hi my name is Amber. And well, I used to schedule my naps. They were the color purple. I haven’t made a schedule in 7 days.
Group: Hi Amber
Now I’m not so recovered that I am good at “just hanging out”. I prefer to have something to do… watch a movie, play a game, go running, go for a walk etc. etc.
But* I am getting better. Yesterday I planned to have my tutor meeting just like I do every Thursday… I walk in and find out that my assistant mudir (director) wants to go home an hour early. How do I respond? Mashi Mushkil (no problem!). Its all about the baby steps!
We still have quite a bit of time for me to practice patience and flexibility, for me to get better at balancing my need to have structured time with spending quality time with people. Morocco has shown me that it is important to take the time to get to know others… it is important be IN the moment with someone to show them respect and that I care.