The Day that Life Begins

Priyanka Rao - Ecuador


April 24, 2012

11am at work I decided I was going to the psychologist since the idea still clung after my 5am sanity jog along the Amazonian highway of Ecuador, where I am spending my gap year.
By 12pm I had an appointment with Edda, the Clinical Psychologist and a bed with my original host family; by the next morning I was on a bus to Quito, the mountainous metropolis of Ecuador. The freedom of a journey alone to the capital city; and the sweet victory of knowing I am taking care of myself.
When I got there, Edda listened to my story: confused and vague in places, but presented to the core. I apologize for my incompetence with certain typical topics of conversation. “So you’re saying,” she says, “that what they talk about doesn’t interest you?” I gave a flustered laugh, and she said to me, “Why should it?”
Why should it. It struck me like the crack of dawn, the lack of obligation to ‘live like they do.’ My blood tingled with personal possibilities; my gut slowly retched at a million T.V shows, food recipes, rap songs-a million feigned interests I had somehow foolishly adopted. And suddenly, slowly, excruciatingly, surely I was free. Free to be Indian, to love Spanish, to dance alone. To be validated, as Edda had done for me.
I owned my life, and it felt so stunningly fresh, to be nothing more or less than anything I actually want.
The first five blocks out of her office, I was hailed with stares, car horns and greetings; I emanated life. That glare of new confidence and freedom can’t stick forever: I feel a bit battered by group dynamics and sorting out my path. Now, I walk how I would want to walk, read that book I want to read, take the counsel of my bi-cultural field advisor; I am nurturing a name, a space, a repertoire that is solidly and inviolably my own.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day you life really begins.” ~ Bob Moawad

Priyanka Rao