I had a dream some months ago where I was in class taking a test on some complex mathematical algorithm I had no idea about. I told the professor over and over again that I didn’t belong there- I’m not a Math major! But every time I handed her the test , she handed it back to me and pointed to her watch. Tick tock. Exasperated, I yelled, “Don’t I have a choice?” “Of course you have a choice,” she smiled. “You can leave.” I felt like crying. “Forget this!” I finally yelled. “I’m going to volunteer somewhere!” And my eyes flew open.
Random (and a bit silly)? Yes, but that is the moment when I decided I would go on a volunteer trip. Really. Now, I might be taking the whole “Follow your dreams” mantra a little too seriously, but my dream self has a point. I need to get out of my head and do something I believe in.
Graduating is weird. Think about it. Since you have been about five, you have gone to school. Everything has been laid out nice and neat for you. Study this, write that, pass this grade, and then the next, and the next, and the next, and so on until suddenly… you’re out. It’s finished. “What? You mean I have to make my own decisions? But the public education system beat that out of me years ago!” Anyway, right before I graduated, I thought I had a handle on what my plans were, only to find out that I HAVE NO IDEA what I’m doing. Both freeing and terrifying, this truth rattles around in my brain every day. It follows me to work, it occupies my dreams, it taps me on the shoulder when I’m out with friends. “Don’t forget me,” it pleads. “I’m still here. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to figure me out. Get comfortable, start having fun, and all is lost.” Oy vey.
So obviously an early-life crisis warrants a trip to the Amazon, no? Ok, so the connection might not exactly seem clear, but I’ll try to explain my thinking (Yep, I’m a list person):
1) I may not know exactly what I’m doing with the rest of my life, but I do know that I have always wanted to volunteer abroad.
2) I feel that if I’m away from everything and everyone I know, I might be able to think more clearly and gain a different perspective.
3) I need to be challenged and get out of my comfort zone.
4) I’ve always been fascinated by the Amazon. All the birds, butterflies, and towering trees. Plus, I can’t deny that I want to try my monkey call and see if a real monkey hollers back. (But I’m also expecting bugs- lots and lots of massive, could-possibly-pass-for-small-rodent bugs.)
5) I’d like to learn about a different culture and practice my Spanish.
6) There is something very spiritual about Peru. When I leaf through guide books and see Machu Picchu, I feel compelled to leap into those pictures. I’m curious about the curanderos and what they know. I contemplate if there is a cure to every disease hiding in untouched regions of the jungle. I wonder what other answers lie waiting there.
7) Finally, for the least selfish of my reasons, I’d like to do something to help the environment. Maybe it’s silly, but I feel guilty about driving my car, not having a compost pile, buying things and ditching them later, and not hurling my body in front of every fast-moving bull dozer clearing the way for a new McD’s. You know, that sort of thing. I care about the environment, but what do I do? Well, I try not to waste electricity, I reuse and recycle, and… I complain about the amount of Styrofoam trays kids throw away at school. That’s about it. I think it’s time for a more hands-on approach.
If you’ve gotten this far, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’m excited about what lies ahead, and I’m thankful that I’ll have the chance to reflect on it all and share it with you.
P.S. The internet is spotty where I’m going, so… posts might be a bit sparse 😦 I’ll do my best to keep up!