It seems too early to be having these feelings; creeping in quietly, camouflaged by frustration. Thoughts bred of selfishness and impatience - "I just want to go home." The resonance of a familiar thought while volunteering, but this week the thought felt much different.
With reflection, I recognize these thoughts emerge from shadows of fear, uncertainty, and anticipatory pain. I look at faces, into eyes, and past smiles: goodbye hurts already. Already, I want to flee the hurting part as I simultaneously press myself to stay present and savor each moment. Each day I am here, my love grows for the patients, co-workers, community, culture, and food. From this angle, each additional day looks like a bad idea. Hard to see past the pain to the uncertain benefits I may still share.
Coded within "i just want to go home" is the truth: what I want to do is escape. Escape the reality of change and the pain of goodbyes, because I fully know that the 'home' imagined does not exist either.
I don't know how to do this.
3 busy weeks of joy, celebration, and distraction and then 3 weeks of actual goodbye. How do I find the slow presence? What words do I want to share with individuals I may never see again? How do I tell them or at the least let them know how important they are to me, to this world. How do I share hope without false confidence?
Hope. Well I hope to be back. I love it here, but clearly I never know. The uncertainties in life that brought me to Thailand could certainly have other plans for me.
Just a number, but 40 seems to be lurking.
I had a usually, unusual week. Susan and I celebrated early with an pre-dawn ride to NongKhai where I took a lot of pictures, regretfully ran 12 miles, and we searched in vain for a shoe size Thailand does not seem to wear. Spending the day together was the highlight, and we were thankful for no surprise downpour as we had last year.
Wednesday was a typical work day with the atypical celebration of me scattered throughout. It was nice, and too much. Susan's co-workers each giving me a small food gift that will thicken me up while I am on a running hiatus. We had cake with the patients, and I bought a small treat for each of them to have with dinner. Thursday brought another rabies vaccination and home care in the village.
I like that I am old enough to recognize the pattern. Life drifts on course: life drifts off course. I no longer have to panic when the course is shrouded or unclear, but I do have to keep looking for the new path. Avoiding easy escape, distraction, or aimless maneuvering. Each year I learn to recognize new waypoints which help me course correct less painfully - but keep a tenuous eye lest I miss one and drift further off course before finding another.
Small consolations are nice as I am already looking for waypoints on an uncertain future when we return home.