Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reflections on a Year

Tomorrow marks one year.
I am looking forward to sunrise.
Not only as the middle day of the three day Thai New Year holiday, but of a project I chose to begin at this time last year. I have made it.
It has been a full calendar year.

Has the year been perfect? Of course not. Have I accomplished everything I set for myself at this time last year? No to that as well. But this is bigger than any of those.

This has been by far the biggest undertaking of my time abroad, for me.

I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve realized that often, being an educator and being somewhat of a journalist of cultural experience can be incompatible, or may be ill advised in what’s considered professional.

I’ve realized that sometimes, self-censorship occurs for reasons that are more in line with my personal values in caring for others than the need to record from observation and publish.

I’ve realized what I think I always knew, but perhaps was afraid to admit – one year is not enough.
But nor is the first year, of anything, going to be the best one.
You may look at me and say – but, you’ve been there two and a half years, so what are you talking about?
And? I’m not just marking time from tarmac to tarmac.

I’ve realized, or reinforced my idea that you don’t bring your Grinch to somebody else’s party. If that means you sit inside and sit out much of the Thai New Year, then so be it. It takes a bigger person to admit they cannot, or do not want to accommodate others than to fake it. And it takes even more than that to avoid bringing others down when you are. I value raw and real, but on this day, you have your celebration and I’ll have mine. And yes – that idea is part of the accomplishment of this year as much as it shows the steps that lay ahead for a second year and beyond.

I’ve realized that what I used to think I wanted, and what I used to believe to be the order of things – is not the only way the story can play out. Nor is it the way the story is going to play out. In some ways it’s a frightening realization, except that, it was always the case whether I realized it or not. You can make choices to work with and change your circumstances – but you don’t choose your starting point, or your curve balls. You’ve got to work with what you’ve got and adapt. And if that ends up leading you further afield than you first thought well – maybe, to get started, it’s best that way. It’s much harder to get cold feet if you don’t really know what you’re getting into. Once you’re in it, well, already here right?

I’m not extraordinary. I’m not entitled. Or required in the ways I once thought.
I am determined. I am driven. And I am striving forward, often on a path I never used to see as a viable possibility. Perhaps the greatest blessing of feeling your world turned upside down a few times early in life – is that it leads you to question more of the rules – and break more of them to open a new trail.

If you’d like to walk with me, really walk with me, I’ll tell you about my dreams. Walk with me long enough, I have stories to tell beyond that. They won’t always be sunny. But I promise they will be me.

It’s only been one year. It’s been a full year! So much has happened.
There is so much more to come.
And we’ve got a long road ahead, so let’s keep walking.