There have been a number of minor problems along the way, but so far nothing has changed my plans. The problem is that everything feels like it will, every problem could be a disaster, a massive shift in all my plans, a waste of time. Anxiety still floats around like a banshee, wailing and haunting my existence. Once, that would have been enough to stop me, but not anymore.
I wonder what would happen if my trip to China falls apart. I doubt I would be out of the Peace Corps, but how soon could I transfer to another country? Would it be better to find another way for now, or to set sail for a far distant shore?
The more plans I make, the more I expect, the more anxiety I feel. There is a reason I always preferred having a direction rather than a plan. Being fluid makes my life more bearable. Stress comes with trying to force the river to my will rather than floating downstream. Both have their place, and my river has been kind, but I don’t think I’ve come close to where I want to be yet.
The places I’ve been have darkness, but I’ve still managed to avoid it, by choice or by luck. There is a lot of pain in this world, and I know I have spent most of my life avoiding it, but I don’t want that to continue. I hate that feeling that pushes me to turn my head, to not make eye contact, to not give because I fear what people will ask for.
As much as I’ve learned over the years, I have yet to really learn to be okay with saying no. I can do it, I can ride the emotions that come with it, but there is pain that is always associated with it. Part of it is the need that people have, that they truly need more than I do and that I won’t be able to absorb that pain forever. Maybe some people find it easy to live apart from others, but for me it’s an inferno.
Joseph Campbell talks about the moth and the flame a lot. The moth finds the flame and sees perfect beauty. It tries to get to it but can’t so it returns to tell all the others about the glory of the flame. The true goal, however, is to enter the flame, to burn and die, and become one with it’s beloved. I understand that desire, but I always stand on the line between the fire and the darkness.
I want to be that passionate about something in my life. I want to love so completely that I will delight in being consumed and becoming one with the flame. But I hold back from everything, especially emotion.
To feel is a glorious thing, but I find so many times that I flinch from the full force of it. It’s a matter of control as much as it is fear. To feel so completely that I lose my ability to control my demeanor, to keep from laughing, or crying. To keep from truly loving something.
I want that fire, and I may get there one day, but for now I’ve been taking the slow way, the safe way. In Mexico I had friends, I knew the language, and I could get home. Taiwan was a place where it’s safe, where you can settle down with a family, where you didn’t have to be paranoid. China is with the Peace Corps. I don’t know how much support we will get, but it’s not truly running off into the world alone.
If there is any real purpose in my life right now, it is to feel, to abandon control and be a part of something more than I ever thought I could be.
That is what scares me most in this world, to lose what I think I am to feeling. What I think I am, my ego, my memories, my weakness. Everything goes away, and there is power in controlling when, but again, that’s just another form of control. The paradox of abandoning all but trying to control the conditions and timing.
I don’t know what will come, but being here, back in the States, I know that what I want will not be easy to find here. Comfort comes to easily, life is too ordered, and even volunteering has a protective coating. It’s too easy for me to avoid the hardest parts of life here, and to fall back to what I used to be.
In a few years, maybe I’ll be ready, but I still think I’ll have a long way to go. To Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Morocco, Estonia, Romania, Moldova, Oman, India, Nepal, Mongolia… I can’t list all the places I dream of, and I know my life will just continue to get harder. I know, because that is what I am looking for. Above all else, I know we find what we are looking for and what we fear, even if it’s not there.