Monday, November 8, 2010

crawling toward the finish line

I'm down to about 2 weeks left here in Valparaiso, now having lost a week to being sick. I'm feeling about 85-90% since yesterday, but on Saturday I still wasn't up to doing aikido in the heat.

I haven't been sitting this past week, but I started again because first, that's what discipline means, but second because I have a lot of thoughts and emotions going on right now and there's a lot of things worth watching.
  • impatience - I have spent all these months not looking forward to being home, but now it's a bit over 5 weeks left, and I'm mentally very tired. It's called "get-home-itis": when Kelly and I did our epic road trip in 2006, we'd planned to hit the coast at San Luis Obispo or Monterey and then head north over a day or two. Dinnertime conversation revealed that after 2800 miles of curvy back roads, we were both done, so we plowed through and got home that night. I don't mind being impatient, as long as I don't neglect what's really happening right now.
  • frustration - Really? I'm sick again? Really?
  • sadness - I like Chile, and I don't know if or when I'll ever see these people again. Especially my kids: even keeping up with some of them on Facebook, I'll never know what effect I had. Right now, I think they don't know either.
  • satisfaction - I made it. I learned a lot. I changed in ways I wanted to change and in ways I still don't understand. I did a useful thing. I learned that working with hordes of people all day is, indeed, probably not what I should do for a living. Certainly not in a Chilean school.
  • eagerness - I'm studying to turn myself into a better, shinier software engineer. I love learning new stuff.
  • fear - It's daunting to imagine going back to U.S. culture, where the money is all green and prices are familiar and I understand all the conversation around me and holy crap what? Living in a foreign culture leaves you spending a lot of time inside your own head, isolated from the lack of information. It's just shy of overwhelming to think of having all that information again.
  • understanding - There's a self-indulgent reassurance in having people miss you when you leave, but it's also scary to realize how much I miss everyone else. The support of our relationships isn't just a matter of what we're used to, although certainly we're all inter-habituated (I like that word). Looking over the gallery of friends, lovers, teachers, my Zen sangha, my aikido dojo, the tutoring kids at the library, they're all communities I'm in because I fit, because I find them nourishing and interesting and (mostly) relaxing. We listen and share and help each other according to what's needed, to what's happening now. I have...almost none of that here.
This round of being sick has knocked me pretty well on my ass, and I'm only getting back up slowly, because I'm not what I consider "healthy" at this point. It's been 8 months of crappy food (the family cooks almost exclusively with soup mix, for example) and minimal exercise. I have a whole constellation of things at home that give me energy and support and it's all been missing here. Today I did two classes' worth of testing, then I taught a simple review class, and while I did that I realized that I'm not so much "running on empty" as I am "coming to a stop as the engine sputters on the last of the fumes." I already drew on my deep reserves, and I don't have any energy left that I can put into teaching. I'm done.

11 more days until the end of school.

1 comment:

  1. I love this list...and I love how you pay attention to stuff. ***hug***