An Attempt at Gratitude

John Spence - Ecuador


June 1, 2015

Thank you. Thank all of you.

Thank you to those who read my blog during the year. Thank you to the folks who messaged me on Facebook. Thank you to the people who posted pictures of their smiling faces so that I could feel their happiness from thousands of miles away.

All the time now that I’m home people ask me what I missed the most in Ecuador. Easy. You. I knew going in that leaving you all would be brutal. Read my first post; it absolutely tore me apart. But being there and operating almost completely without you surpassed every last one of my expectations. You were constantly on my mind. When things took a rough turn or even when things seemed spectacular, in the back of my mind I always thought about April 18th, the day I’d come back to you all.

Well, it’s been 43 days since I touched down in Nashville on the 18th, and to be perfectly honest, it’s been a struggle. I mean ‰ÛÒ let’s be real ‰ÛÒ if you’ve read my other posts, you realize that I struggle with most things, so it’s nothing new, but nonetheless my return hasn’t lived up to the hype.

I just want you all to know that any let down I feel or that you perceive in me is 110% self-inflicted. You all are the same superb people I left nine months ago. You all are the same flippin’ fantastic folks who inspire me daily. I say that my return hasn’t lived up to the hype only because I haven’t lived up to the standards I set for myself before I came home. What happened to all those awesome things I planned to do? What happened to that awesome guy I left in Ecuador? Constantly, I worry that I regress. Having returned to my old environment, am I sliding back towards the same person I was when I left? Nothing scares me more.

Yet, despite falling flat on my face upon my long awaited return, I still find myself surrounded by incredible people. All the anger I feel towards myself and how I’ve readjusted, all the pain I feel having left a thousand new loved ones a thousand miles away, it’s almost made ok just because I’ve gotten to see you all again. In the past month and a half, I’ve seen almost every one of you. Sometimes it was weird. Sometimes it was awkward. Sometimes the conversation didn’t quite flow like it used to. But without fail, you all have made me feel loved.

So thank you. Thank you for asking me about Ecuador. Thank you for listening to me for 30 seconds or 10 minutes or a couple hours. Thank you for watching my video and reading my letters. Thank you for welcoming me back and helping bring me back into the fold even though I haven’t done the greatest job coming back to you all. More than anything, thank you for being you, for giving me something to come back to, for making me feel loved despite all my shortcomings.

Just like I worked so hard in Ecuador to earn the love of my new family and community, I will work even harder to deserve the love you all shower me with. As always, I know I have enormous room for improvement, and I’m working towards it all the time. You make me feel like the luckiest kid in the world.

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Thus concludes the hardest year of my life.

John Spence