Monday, January 11, 2010

Musing on my Upcoming Move to Ghana

One of the best books I read over the course of my winter break travels was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. After a wrenched divorce and failed relationship Gilbert finds herself in a state of depression that she feels she cannot escape. Gilbert chooses to move to Italy, India, and Indonesia successively to explore pleasure, devotion, and balance. Gilbert’s Italian friend explains to her that each person has a word that defines his/her being; a word that permeates every level of that person’s identity. Gilbert struggles through much of the book to discover “her word.” If Springfield, MO had a word I think it would be “Do.” If Preston, England had a word I think it would be “fun.” But what is my word? I think I could best be described by the word “fusion”: I am a coming-together of an eclectic variety of ideas and traits and I believe my primary goal is to fuse people. I seek convergence in the world.

I believe that travelling abroad can be a wonderful opportunity to self-examination and to evaluate past relationships and situations and return to one’s life with a fresh perspective. I will not return to America the same Judith Rowland that I was when I boarded the plane to Manchester in September. England has been a spiritual blessing for me; I have never before felt as loved, happy, and balanced as I am in Europe. I question why I would ever leave such a utopia. But, as I travelled other winter break I discovered that England didn’t change me- I changed me. I am terribly upset to set aside the friendships that I have developed in this wonderful country but I recognize that staying longer will not benefit me more.

My move to Ghana awaits me. I am content to set aside my straightener, dancing shoes, and addiction to travel in favour of a bed net, Tevas, and a wonderful internship. Ghana will change me in ways that I cannot currently fathom. I am excited to release myself to this new country and to allow the voices of the dessert to envelope me. I am tentatively eager to lose my naivety and to understand a part of the world that carries with it the baggage of Aids, Malaria, poverty, and poor conservation methods. My life in England seems too frivolous in retrospect- why did I allow myself to be consumed with thoughts of “What am I going to wear?” when instead I could have considered what I would do that day to make the world a better place? I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what I will learn and the realities that I know will crush my soul. I’m afraid of what the Judith Rowland I am to become will think of the Judith that I am currently.

As opposed to making New Year’s resolutions this year I elected to make “Ghana resolutions” or promises to myself that I believe will enhance my experience in Ghana. They are as follows:

1) Begin each day with one hour of meditation. Meditation is a significant part of my spiritual life but I often become caught in the busy nature of my mind. Meditation is the only way I will truly be able to be changed by Ghana.
2) Write every day. I believe I have greatly developed as a writer this semester and I appreciate the records I have of my experiences. Writing forces me to place into words my emotions and thoughts. I will write in this blog or I will write for myself.
3) Explore something new each day.
4) End each day with an unorganized period of reflection. I want to move away from my tendency to let reason guide by soul. I do not want to be bound by goals for each day (ironic, eh?). I want to simply… be.

For four months I intend to allow myself to be directed by the world and not by my innate dedication to reason. I look forward to the person I will become.

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