Recently I’ve made two observations about my life in Jamaica:
1. I’m living small yet big.
2. I’m living in chaos yet am at peace.
Let me explain.
Living small: My daily movements are fairly tiny. Same little route to the bus stop every morning. Same small “hellos” and fist pounds to the squeegee boys. Same graceful “no thank yous” to the taxi drivers who must one day hope I say I need a ride. Same lengthy, sweaty walk home, stepping to the backdrop of horns which have started to quietly fade. Same morning runs to the park. Same little night life – it is now dark by 5:30 pm and so unless I have plans with the group, I’m cozy in my apartment studying or cooking or reading or writing or listening to music or marking or connecting with loved ones. Despite all of this, and living modestly on a local salary, I feel I’m living it big. Huge.
WHY? I’m giving so much of myself everyday to to this country. To the community. To the organizations I’m trying to advocate for. It takes a massive amount of effort most days. I’m also in an incredibly plentiful place. One side step outside of my routine – to the beach, the mountains, a new restaurant, a concert, a special event – feels large. Like it’s all magical. Time and space are much wider than me. I’m a small part of the panoramic picture. Walls are expanding, not cascading in.
Living in chaos: There is so much noise. So much filth. So many smells. So much harassment. So many distractions. So much potential danger. So much unwanted attention. So many questions. So much…..everything. Nothing is simple or straightforward. For example, this week I had my first focus group meeting (it’s a small miracle people actually came to it and participated actively) and I arrived at work to find the entire building had flooded. I also had a blind participant in the room that I had to attend to. None of this was expected or planned for, but it happened. Expect the unexpected.
So, in order to achieve some kind of equilibrium, I must find and then attain inner peace. Otherwise, I would become a crazed maniac. We would have a messy explosion on our hands. Tears, shouting, fighting…you name it. I have a constant internal coach, a soothing voice that calms me. The world is spinning faster therefore I have to slow down my heart rate to counteract this. Peace and unwavering patience are being generated automatically in response to my often hostile and perplexing environment.
Some new pictures from the small-big-chaotic-peaceful life I lead.