Saturday, September 18, 2004

Thinking Less

I keep trying to write a posting about sharing and how people that have a lot seem to share less than people with very little, but I can not write it...

    Tonight, I had just finished supper with my daughter and her boyfriend in downtown Minneapolis. I took them to a very friendly, smallish part of the city. We were walking down a street I am familiar with when I remembered a wonderful Ukrainian restaurant that was nearby. The restaurant often has live folk music from eastern Europe. I convinced my daughter and her boyfriend to come with me down the street a little further.
    There happened to be a band playing. A rather large band (about 20 people). As soon as I stepped into the restaurant, I noticed a very beautiful woman playing some sort of strange stringed instrument.
    As soon as I saw her, even before I could think about doing anything (or about not doing something) I found myself eagerly waving and warmly smiling at her like she was a close friend not seen for a long while. The wave and smile just popped out of me. I had not planned or even thought about it. It was completely impulsive and wonderful -- I have always wanted to be the type of person that did that type of thing but was always thinking so much that it never happened.

      And guess what: she smiled back -- in that happy, sweet, slightly embarrassed way.

                The place had a very warm feeling, and as I looked around, many people warmly smiled back at me (my heart was leaping). I felt so in touch with myself and my own joy. It was like the feelings I had while being in small towns in Nepal or China.
                The music was great and we stayed as long as my daughter and her boyfriend could stand it. As we walked away from the restaurant, we happened to pass by the window that was just behind the band. The beautiful woman with the strange stringed instrument came to the window and smiled at me again, in a brave, happy way.
                Now, her smile keeps bumping into my thoughts.

              There will be no Peace Corps-type posting tonight, because my thoughts have been hijacked by a smile from beautiful woman with a strange stringed instrument.

              Thursday, September 16, 2004

              Only Dreams

              Life will go by very quickly.
              In an instant it will have happened.

              Do not wait for another time to do those things that you dream of.

              Wednesday, September 15, 2004

              Symptoms of Chronic Peace Corps Withdrawal

              An interesting topic related to being a Peace Corps volunteer is:

              • How does it feel to be a returning Peace Corps volunteer?

              I have read about the strange and unexpected reactions people have upon returning to the States. The following list is taken from a Peace Corps "Completion of Service" manual. It describes some common reactions and feelings experienced by returning Peace Corps volunteers.

              Fifteen Symptoms of Chronic Peace Corps Withdrawal

              1. Guilty feelings about your indulgent lifestyle.
              2. Salivating when you hear poly-rhythmic music.
              3. Decorating more than two rooms of your house with host country memorabilia.
              4. The desire to do everything outdoors.
              5. Confusion between "immediately" and "by next week".
              6. Greetings exceeding three sentences or eight seconds.
              7. Making deprecating comments about American beer.
              8. Subscribing to magazines normally found only in libraries.
              9. Anxiety induced insomnia from lack of mosquito net in bedroom.
              10. A fixation with ethnic restaurants.
              11. Feeling nostalgic when your commuter bus is filled to over capacity.
              12. Involuntarily using foreign swear words and interjections.
              13. The inability to use the left hand when making cash transactions.
              14. Reaching for the pepper before the salt.
              15. Considering yourself better informed about third world countries than top level state department officials.

              Tuesday, September 14, 2004

              High-risk Altruist

              High-risk: Being particularly subject to potential danger or hazard.

              Altruist: Someone who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being.

              Article that coined the phrase

              High-risk + Altruist = Me!

              (What do you expect after two strong margaritas)

              Sunday, September 12, 2004

              In an Instant

              I have been thinking about my perception of time. I've been trying to notice when I am patient with time, and when I am impatient with time. I know that many times when I get lost, I begin to become impatient with time -- time starts to matter more:

              Time starts to close in around me.

              In this state, I become very aware that time is running out. I recognize I am not where I should be, or at least not going where I should be going. As soon as I become un-lost, time seems to fall away; I take a deep breath and feel very relaxed.

              The fact that moving from lost to un-lost can happen so quickly makes it a wonderful event to study. One moment I have no idea where I am at; the next moment I see something familiar and all is well -- the situation completly changes in an instant. One moment I am impatient with time; the next I am patient with it.

              This analogy is important, because these last few days I have been feeling much more patient with time; I've taken a gi-normous deep breath and feel very relaxed. Something has changed in an instant.

              I now admit that I was feeling lost in my life. It was a subtle (but strong) feeling of being lost. Sometimes it would appear to me as loneliness, but that was only a symptom. I was headed in the wrong direction and time was beginning to close in around me.

              I was surprised (and a little unnerved) how quickly and intensely my feelings changed a few days ago until I started thinking about what usually happens when I move from being lost to un-lost.