Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just don't think about it, and everything will be ok.

Walking with the Beji Bros, savoring the 70-degree weather and clear views of the surrounding volcanoes, we had just returned from a spectactularly scenic hike in a neighboring village.  We were carrying a juicy watermelon (please note “Dirty Dancing” parallel) to a gathering where pie made with real butter would be served. As we walked, we passed a car as “Islands in the Stream” was playing on the radio. Perfection. 

With the close of training and my move to my permanent site before me, I stand on the precipice of yet another change filled with many more unknowns: Will my host family like me? What will my school be like? How I will I spend my days? How the heck will I teach English when some days it seems I can barely speak or write it? Can I survive as the only bule in my village? Will there be rats? It makes glorious days like these particularly potent and worth noting. The bule-bonding, watermelon-carrying, pie-eating, Dolly Parton- listening days could very well be over, but I really have no idea. Perhaps my village holds Kenny Rogers’ number one fan? Maybe pie will be as much a constant in my new village as is nasi (rice). OK, maybe not. 

I came to training braced for pretty much anything and with few expectations. That proved quite successful. I anticipated not liking many people in our training group and prepared myself for a life of total isolation, which actually sounded a bit enticing. Alas, much to my chagrin, I ended up enjoying each and every person in our group. True, I do get annoyed at times when my references to the popular 80s television show, “Small Wonder”, are lost on my village mates. And I get mildly perturbed that they don’t seem to care one tiny bit about the fact that the popular teen singing group, New Edition, was the launching-pad for so many important careers.  But overall, life without them or the other PCVs close-by seems a bit hard to swallow right now. Also, maybe I have grown a bit too attached to my host family and their funny picture-posing ways. Alas, here it comes. Fast. Tomorrow even.

Every December, some of my NYC gang would discuss what the theme of the upcoming year should be. Past mottos include: “Why not?”, “Ask yourself, ‘Is this awesome?’”, and “Check yourself before you wreck yourself”.  I realize it is only June, but my official swearing-in as a PCV seems to align somewhat closely with the insurance council year. So as an ode to my career in life insurance, it seems appropriate to introduce the new mantra now. 

“Just don’t think about it, and everything will be ok.” 

  • How did the kindle charger that lay two feet away from me as I slept get stripped of its plastic covering?
Just don’t think about it. 

  • How is it that the fish I am eating could still possibly be good to eat after sitting on the counter all day without being refrigerated?
Just don’t think about it. 

  • How will I memorize in Indonesian how to thank an audience full of people including the US ambassador?
Just don’t think about it. 

  • What will I talk about for 6 hours in a car with my principal who speaks no English as we ride to our new village?
Again, just don’t think about it, and all will be ok. 

And somehow, it truly does end up ok. Worrying and thinking too much really isn’t worth the time as it will probably end up differently than I imagined anyway. 

Just in case the philosophy falls short, and for those times that I am choked with the reality of my new life, perhaps the Bene Gesserit litany against fear sent to me by my pal, Bill, may come in handy. I am only slightly embarrassed that this will be my second Dune reference in two months, but here it is: 

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.


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