Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Being present

So, it's June.

There are two and a half weeks of school left, and I'm down to looking at the calendar in terms of weeks instead of months. In order to view my time here in mentally manageable chunks, I have not looked at the calendar in terms of days -- there have been too many. And there still are. Not until there are fewer than twenty days will I start looking at my remaining time here in terms of days. But I don't yet know when I will fly home. While my return date remains a mystery, I will continue to think in terms of weeks.

At the same time, I am working at staying present, enjoying every moment here that I will not get back, and being self-reflective in all respects.

Staying present is a difficult discipline to practice when my heart is someplace that my body is not. There is a constant pull inside of me leading my thoughts to fabricate some kind of future. But dwelling on the future is futile. It is completely unknown.... especially since I have no idea what I am going to do or where I am going to live when I return to the U.S. To bring myself back to the present, I have to involve myself in a conversation and make eye contact with the people around me. Focusing my attention on those who are physically in front of me is the only way to ground me in the present moment. The minute I am alone or drift inside my head while staring off into space, I start wishing to be Home. That is not the way I want to spend my last weeks here in Georgia, because I will not get this time back.

My friend James and I were talking about this last weekend. He made a statement that stuck with me -- he said that before we know it, we'll be sitting in our families' houses, shaking our heads and saying, "Whoa, that was a weird dream!" I know how true that is. There have been other times when I have looked forward to something happening for so long, but when it finally arrives and then ends, it feels like a dream. This time it will be a 7-month-long dream! But I know that when I am sitting in my brother and sister-in-law's house where I sat just before flying half-way around the world, it will feel like I was there yesterday. These seven months will feel surreal -- like an alternate reality that may have been a movie I saw. But, unlike a movie, I won't be able to replay this time. When it's over, it's over.

Knowing that this time will end is helping me to be intentionally self-reflective. I know that I have a lot of growing to do. My life has completely fallen apart. The life that I wanted evaporated in front of my eyes. Starting back a square one is a tough place to be, and I want to know myself better than I did before I came to Georgia. Noticing what makes me tick while surrounded by foreign-everything will help me to know why I think the way I think and do the things I do. I have found out what is important to me, and keeping those important things in the foreground is going to aid me in re-prioritizing my life when I get to putting it back together.... whenever and wherever that may be.

But for the next few weeks, I will notice the little things and take joy in them -- the heady scent of roses from the neighbor's garden, the fireflies flickering around the yard at night, my students excitement at everything, Tea's brilliant smile and musical laugh. They'll be mere memories before long.

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