Post Title: 011_What I’ve noticed in three months (about me!)
Written Date: 28 Oct, 2015
Posted Date: 28 Oct, 2015
No photos this time. I decided to stop with what I originally just planned on starting with when it got a little longer than I’d planned. Also, retitled the post. You’ll get the original title soon, but this one’s going out now. (postscript – one photo! At the bottom.)
This is a pretty self-indulgent musing. You won’t learn a lot about Namibia, but you may recognize some of what I say about yourself,or me, or not.
Wow, three months since I’ve posted. I obviously could have found a few minutes here and there, and perhaps I’ll get “better” (?), maybe more regular, with postings. But I honestly don’t feel too badly about it. The past three months are months 4-6 of being in Namibia, and months 2-4 of being at Penduka, and I have been doing a LOT of experiencing, adjusting, and thinkingfeeling on many fronts. For now, suffice it to say it is all worthwhile. This is one of life’s great experiences.
I think one of the reasons I don’t post/write more often is that I usually feel like I should create some sort of complete picture, and I just can’t in the time available, or with the number of impressions that somehow need to be expressed. But I’ll try to write more, with shorter and more specific topics of the moment. No promises! I am “otherwise engaged” a lot over here.
What I notice about life and relationships from the “other side” of what I’m used to:
It’s not only a “foreign” culture (to me) that has occupied my energy, it also gives me an entirely new perspective on friends, family, relationships, and other things I (probably all of us) often tend to take for granted. Note that these are mostly about changes in my own awareness. Very little about others has changed. A few notable notices:
- As I get older (now 66), I love the fact that I keep learning nuances to things I felt I knew about years ago. And the connection/family orientation in Namibia points out some of these things much more clearly than I am accustomed to. Case in point: Friends, and love, is really what it’s all about. Particularly in Sausalito I managed to make a few close friends that to this day accept me for who and what I am, and they let it show in every communication. Even when I’m away and out of touch for a LONG time, every time they write, or Skype, or call on WhatsApp, they are interested in what’s going on with me, and letting me know what’s going on with them. I love it, and I love them.
- Even folks I don’t know as well have gently, and nicely, let me know that they enjoy the posts and would love to see more, and they do it in a way that expresses an interest in what I have to share and say in a way that says “they miss me.” It’s sweet, and thank you for the reminders.
- Some of the people in my life who have been the worst at staying in touch over the years are also the worst at reminding me of how guilty I should feel for not posting more often. I can happily report that guilt has pretty much disappeared from my life. Popeye has become a mentor, much to my surprise: “I yam what I yam.” Love it or leave it alone.
- Many of my own communications in past years have been driven by the kind of “expectation” and judgment inferred from the previous paragraph. I plead lack of understanding, and apologize. Like I said, I’m still growing, and realizing, and learning.
- This is not new, but it is a little more clear than it has been in the past. Just because I live up to a pact in opening up and expanding my personal ability to connect and care doesn’t mean it will be matched by a reciprocating effort by the other party iving up to their part of the pact. Sad, and kind of painful, but true. The “other party” isn’t by definition wrong or to be blamed, but that doesn’t keep it from being uncomfortable and my feeling alone, again. As I told a 23 year old colleague here who is becoming a good friend, just because you’re “old” (I am, apparently 🙂 ) doesn’t mean we don’t have the same feelings we had when we were, say, 23. I don’t know that I could have understood that when I was 23 either. And no, the colleague is not someone referred to earlier in this self-revelatory aside. Why does this belong under the heading of this section? I’m not sure I would have noticed it, or taken the risk, or had the reaction, if I wasn’t in the middle of a foreign culture that values relationship and connection so much more than the cultures I’ve experienced in the USA or western Europe. That’s just me noticing what I experience, not a “truth”.
- This experience is “real life”. There is no “going back to the real world”, or the “real world” back in the USA. It’s real, it’s in your face, and it is a force to be dealt with in unexpected ways. It points out the wonderful things, and the not so wonderful things, in all of us regardless of our color, culture, or beliefs. Talk about being in touch with reality, and noticing when others aren’t. I think saying “back in the real world” is a form of denial.
- I’m closing this section with “I’m getting what I really wanted to get out of this experience in the Peace Corps in Africa.” It looks a little different, takes more time than I figured on, and in most ways isn’t what I thought it might be, but it’s very real and very fulfilling. I’m really, really glad I’m here. I just can’t be in a hurry – the environment won’t let me be. That’s taken some getting used to, and I’m still working on it.
OK, OK, OK, …. ONE photo! But just because I really like the cover, and it was delivered yesterday.
My new Batik cover for my sofa. Made to order by the women here at Penduka! The cover (not the sofa) is definitely coming back with me when/if I come back! It will fit on almost any sofa.