Saturday, August 28, 2004

Emergency Kit Item #1 -- Magic Jewels

I know there will be difficult times working as a Peace Corps volunteer, far from my family and friends. In preparation for those times, I have decided to build an emergency kit for myself (see this post). I am going to document the contents of that kit in this journal.

The Tibetan book of the dead describes a very interesting process for helping someone that is dying. Here is my attempt to paraphrase that process:

    1. Sit very close to the person that is dying.
    2. Breath in as the dying person breaths out, imagining you are pulling the pain and death from the person that is dying.
    3. As you bring this pain and death into yourself, use it to destroy those bad things that are inside of you (hate, anger, loneliness...).
    4. When you breath out, breath out peace and happiness for the dying person to inhale.

Trying to understanding the pain of others has helped me understand and then reduce my own pain -- sometimes it has even helped the other. Also, in a strange type of symbiosis, as I build compassion for other people I find I am more able to have compassion for myself, which helps me have more compassion for others...

Item #1 -- Magic Jewels

    Compassionate thoughts are like beautiful jewels made of bright magic. Their magic is strong and over time can heal great pain.

      (I'll write this phrase in my emergency kit's "book of thoughts")

    Update from the Recruiter

    I just found out more information about my nomination status. Nothing has actually changed with my status; just my understanding of how long I will have to wait before my status could possibly change:

      The earliest I could be nominated into the national pool would be November 1st -- that is the day the Peace Corps will begin nominating volunteers for October 2005 deployment.

    Thursday, August 26, 2004

    Getting Stuck

    I have a friend that feels stuck.

      I've felt stuck before, and it is a terrible sort of "non-feeling". I knew where I was at, and what I was supposed to do, but for some reason I could not do it. It was almost as if I was watching myself in a detached way, wondering when I would get going. Now that I think about it, its more like I was out of gas. From what I have read, this is a common feeling for Peace Corps volunteers at some point during their service.
      I think I am going to make a list of all the things that give me gas (like refried beans) and then tuck the list away in a type of emergency kit for myself. I'll make the kit look official and fill it with all sorts of interesting things that make me smile. I include phrases and poems that help me through difficult times. I think I will also ask people to write me secret notes stored in sealed envelopes that say "Open in Case of an Emergency". I'll put the secret notes in an especially safe area of the emergency kit.

    I think I will give my friend a secret note in an sealed envelope that says "Open in Case of an Emergency".

    Moving Forward

    My Dad, Grandpa, and I used to fish for walleyes. Sometimes we fished at night, far from shore. Once while fishing at night, I looked out and studied the lights of all the cabins on the shore.

    I found it difficult to grasp that in each cabin the lives of unknown people moved forward, separate from my life.

    Now far from that night, I know that in fact we are all connected, and moving forward together.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2004

    The Path Ahead

    As of yet, I have not been accepted into the Peace Corps, and if I am, there are still a number of hurdles to cross. Here is what I have done so far:

    1. Applied
    2. Submitted references
    3. Had an interview

    Here is what I have left:

    1. Wait for nomination (into the national pool)
    2. Get medical and dental clearances
    3. Get legal clearance
    4. Get placed
    5. Wait for an invitation (upon receiving an invitation, the recipient has 10 days to review the invitation package and decide whether to accept it)

    I have decided that if I am not accepted into the Peace Corps, I will find some other way to go where the most help is needed. That thought is a little scary to me, because I have really become attached to the idea of being in the Peace Corps. The more I learn about the Peace Corps, the more I appreciate what it is trying to accomplish.

    Tonight I will send an email to my recruiter and ask her how things are going...

    Monday, August 23, 2004

    Not My Decisions

    Not everyone in my family is as excited about me trying to join the Peace Corps as I am. Actually, I think a better way to describe it would be: they have significant concerns. I guess that if our family was not a close family, they would not have so much concern. I can sense their angst -- they want me to go forward and meet the challenges of my life, and they also do not want to see me (or my children) suffer from decisions I may not understand completely. I know this is because they want me to live a happy, safe life...

      One of my daughters is beginning to make big decisions regarding her life. This has been very hard for me. I don't think I want her to change -- I have become very used to how we are together and how she is (I mean was). I am also very scared at times because I do not think she realizes some of the very likely consequences of her decisions. I care for her so much -- I wish she could make it through life easy, without the big mistakes I made. I want her to be happy, and I am afraid the consequences of her decisions might lead to a more difficult life for her...

      I have spent a great time thinking about what things I can say to my family to ease their concern. I have tried to tell them key thoughts that I have, in hopes that these might help them see what is in me, and why the Peace Corps is right for me. I think that this has left them confused, and me feeling empty. I have not come up with the magic words to make this easy for us...

        I have been waiting for my daughter to say some magic words to me that will reduce my concern about her decisions and her future happiness. I can tell she has been searching for those words. I know that she wants me to be as happy about her future as she is. I can also see that she has also begun to feel sad because she can not find those words that I am waiting for. I can see now, as I am typing this, I am not making this easy for us...

        It would be easier if my daughter would make the decisions I want her to make, but then I guess they would not be her decisions. She has been trying to tell me this, but my ears were filled with my fears of her future. Her love for me, and her patience with me have proven to be stronger than any magic words.

      To my family: I love you, and I will be patient.