No, I did not have a near-death experience. The idea of my life flashing before my eyes came to me this morning as I was walking back from my first warm shower since I left Quito almost 3 weeks ago. As I was marveling at the amount of hair I lost to my comb, I looked outside at the foggy, wet morning, and saw a little piece of my life. What I saw was not a monumental moment that had changed my life, not even something that would have made a good story. I remembered an evening at a restaurant with my dad and sister. It was on our way home from a tennis match at GSA, one I had lost. But sitting in that rustic- styled barn house, eating pizza with two of my favorite people, was the little part of my life that I flashed back to.
This has been happening a lot to me lately. Another time I remembered going to eat pie at Governor’s with my two best friends on a rainy day after school. Or when I was swimming with my grandma at her friend’s pool one summer. It’s always mundane, I don’t flash back to times of pain, anxiety, heartbreak, or stress- not even my very happiest moments, or moments of change in my life.
The smallest flash of insignificant but meaningful happy moments, like my best friend and I balancing apples on our heads, are the ones that really stay with me. I don’t think I would have realized this if I were not here now. This realization means a lot to me in my search for a more meaningful life. Now, I hope to appreciate those little moments more. I can stop searching for those grand events to add meaning to my life, and stop planning them as well. Even this trip, coming to Ecuador, was in part my planned event to give my life more purpose.
When it comes down to it, I don’t even think I’ll remember “the year I went to Ecuador”. I will remember my morning cafecita with my host mother in Quito, and playing soccer with my new family the night I arrived in Penipe. I’ll remember watching the castle of fireworks in my town’s fiesta, and gathering around the fireplace making s’mores with my new friends at the first training session.
If I had not had this time to reflect in Ecuador, I would not have had this realization. Or at least, I would not have realized it when I did. If I could offer you advice, I’d say, “Take more time to appreciate those seemingly insignificant happy moments- they nearly always include the people you love, and food”.
In other news, I moved in with my family for the next 6 months, started working with my apprenticeship, had my first training seminar, and started Spanish classes. But, I’ll save that for the next blog.
Before I end this, I would like to include the vision statement for the year I wrote in Quito. I have been working with this to make more specific goals, but this is the broad overview of what I hope to gain from this year:My vision is to embrace my new community, to learn to value this new culture, to discover myself in my weakest and strongest moments, to form lasting bonds, and to create a more meaningful purpose for my life. I plan to embrace my community by reaching out to others and pushing myself to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. I want to share confidence, compassion, and energy with those I meet. By embracing my community, I hope to learn from this culture everything I can. I want my opinions and preconceived ideas to change or solidify. I plan to leave Ecuador with not only knowledge, but also a bigger vision that will stay with me throughout college and the rest of my life. Through this experience, I plan to get to know myself better. I know that through my low points and high points, I can discover myself in a new and more meaningful way. I hope this year will give me even the slightest inkling that I know where my life is heading. And I plan to work to make bonds and connections with people so that I can share and listen to the ongoing changes and insights in order to add meaning to our journey. Also. I hope that while developing my sense of purpose, I can aid in developing other’s sense of purpose as well. And finally, I hope that this coming year, and this vision will influence my future goals and visions.
Until next time!
PS: The picture is with a mummy from the 1500s discovered in the wall of a church in Guano.