Time and perspective

I am not going to lie, it’s been pretty hard keeping up with the blog posting. Well you probably have already perceived that since last time I wrote was just few weeks after I arrived. And now, well it has been about four months of being here in Brazil. Four months, which I can’t tell if it has felt like my whole life or a blink of an eye. At this very moment I am sitting on my bed writing this, and I am not sure if it is for you I am writing to let you know what in the world it is that I am doing or if it is to explain that same thing to myself.

Quite the mission really, to try to explain, to define, and to reflect on everything that has happened. Especially considering that the only plug in my room is being used to charge my computer, which means I can’t turn on the fan which is the only true repellent that seems to work here and the only thing that helps to escape the heat and humidity that are never ceasing. So bare with me as I scare away all sorts of insects from my computer screen and legs, and try to pretend that it is winter.

So, first lesson is that time is a funny thing and we are the only ones responsible for making our own time meaningful. I realized this after all the excitement of being in a foreign place was starting to fade away, routine kicked in, and life became (in a way) normal. I thought that just by being away from everything and everyone I knew before would make everyday an adventure, that everyday would have a lesson at the end, and that I would just be living in a tropical paradise. Turns out, more than half the time we are the ones responsible for making our own moments of paradise even in the worst of situations.

About three months ago I got lucky enough to get pink eye, joy oh joy.  With red, mushy, itchy eyes I would wake up everyday faking a smile to face the world here. For a while, I refused to believe that I was feeling like crap, but then I started questioning my decision to even come here in the first place, I started to miss the life that I had before, had I really traveled all this way to get pink eye? A combination of culture shock and illness was starting to become too much. It was time for me to accept my vulnerability and ask for help, I gave up on my stubbornness and decided to accept my family’s invitation to go to the eye doctor. Away we went to the doctor in the next town over about an hour bus ride away. Through some treatment and care and loving from my host family, my eyes recuperated. I was so unbelievably grateful that they would take time out of their jobs, and lives, to take care of me and my gooey eyes. It then just seemed so simple; it was about being honest to my self about my feelings and my well-being. It made me realize that pretending to feel fine, to trying to hide this vulnerability of being sick, even though it was quite literally on my face, was just not worth it. That I was wasting time and energy holding all the pieces together alone, when what I had to do was to let go, ask for help, and let my self be taken cared for, even if it was just this once. Just like that, the difficulty that I was facing become a meaningful lesson. Though this is just one example, I’ve noticed that any situation- seemingly bad, big, or small- can be flipped into a rewarding learning experience; it all just depends on perspective.

Of course, not everything is a bad situation that needs to be turned into an “Aha” moment, sometimes there are just beautiful things that we get to experience and see. Like my little host brother running away from my whole family as they try to put on his bathing suit on, but all he wants and perceives as normal, is to go swimming naked in the river. He splashes water and screams “chuva, chuva!” with all the innocence and happiness in the world across his face. Spending an afternoon working in a farm, with light rain overhead picking squash and yucca from the earth. A silent walk through tropical woods with blue and yellow butterflies gliding the air, finding a full moon on a lilac sky as we kayak down the river, making an apple cake on a grey afternoon while sucking on cacao beans, the color of the sun as it passes through the palms trees out side my window in the morning. The world is so full beauty and love; it’s just about taking the time and disposition to see it.

So, thanks for listening and letting me tell you a little bit of what it is that I am seeing, feeling, and thinking.