Untitled Part II

Bella Bjornstad - Ecuador


February 10, 2015

Since my last blog, I have dug deep into the experiences that were sparking those thoughts. I don’t like cynicism, I think it’s a cop out, an easy say to wiggle out from under our responsibility to each other. And the same thing goes for pessimism. So, under these extraordinary circumstances, I have had the opportunity to experiment with this and other philosophies. My life here has become a daily practice in choosing optimism. Like that the bus will actually arrive this morning or that the taxi driver I get when coming home from Riobamba after dark will just drop me off at my house. Or even more common, that the words coming from my mouth are saying what I intended. Ultimately, it’s a choice, regardless of the evidence, I have the power to choose which end of the continuum to ride.

Iwas riding home from Spanish class in Riobamba, a day filled with girl talk, venting, and warm equatorial sun, wishing I was more excited to go home, when I realized the power I have over myself. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what my Ecua-family has provided me, which is a stable home, plenty of food, and a very Ecuadorian experience. I feel so grateful for their existence. And yet, when it’s time to go home, I feel the nerves of anticipation. It’s anticipation for the language barrier, for the judgement I see in their faces when I come home sunburnt, for the pile of potatoes I will have to consume in order to avoid their judgement. Then, as the bus swerved around cars and other buses, and drops of rain webbed across my window, I realized that I get to decide how I choose to see the differences between me and my family, and me and the rest of the world.

And when I got off the bus in Tres Juanes, a neighbor stepped off behind me and we walked down the lane together. He happened to be the owner of the almost-rabid dogs who I have to brave to get on the bus so they don’t bother me. And when I walked into the kitchen, my family was sitting around the table waiting for me. My niece screamed when she saw me and reached her arms up, asking for a hug. And it turns out, the same scene looks incredibly different when I take control of how I experience it.

Bella Bjornstad