Monday, May 2, 2011

Thanks for the Memories...

Greetings from Honduras. Well my friends…this is it. The papers are signed, the goodbyes have occurred and my time as a Peace Corp Volunteer is over. I am now what we call an RPCV (Returned Peace Corp Volunteer). I landed here in Honduras 27 months ago. This weekend I will return to the states. The ride was up and down, but no doubt, it was the ride of my life.

When I look back on it all, I ponder what brought me to this point. I decided one day that I am going to start living life differently; the way I want to. I wanted to do work that meant something. I found out that when you just say screw it, "I am gonna make this move because everything inside of me is telling me to," the turn out is pretty good. "Its too long. 2 years? What about my career? I'll be so behind." I always said this to myself. It seems so silly to me now. Too many times I didn't listen to my true voice. This time I did. It was the best decision of my life, and now I am changed forever. I am happy to have served my country in some way. Now I truly believe change is possible

What change do I see possible? My opinions were summed up well the other day. I was watching a TED lecture by a prominent "well-being" researcher from England named Nic Marks. That's right, someone who studies the happiness of people and societies. He conducted a survey of nations across the globe asking them what they want in life. Number one…happiness. Number 2 and 3…love and health. Wealth was lower yet the world seems to base a country's success on this single aspect. He also does a study where he gives two people one hundred dollars. He tells one to spend it on himself, and the other to spend it on others. At the end of the day, the one who spent it on others is always happier.

He honored the late Robert F. Kennedy for numerous reasons but notes one great quote. RFK said, talking about a countries wealth, was that "The Gross National Product measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile." The dominant measure of country’s success is measuring everything, except that which people care about the most. Isn’t that fascinating?

Wealth is not bad. I don't think making money nor wanting to make money is. What I am saying, is we should all make sure we are putting what makes our life worthwhile at the top…and sharing that with all who we can. That's what I have learned in my two years here. Experiencing that, with a different people, has given me a new sense of purpose.

Deep down I always felt I was here in Honduras for a reason. There was something that was going to happen and at that moment it would all make sense. I kept waiting for this moment. I was looking so hard for it and waiting patiently. It took me 2 years to find out that that moment has happened and is happening every single day. Nothing completely profound was going to happen at one specific moment. It was a gradual occurrence of events. Now when I look back, I see it all much more clearly. Sometimes when you are looking for what you think is a defining moment in your life, you miss the daily occurrences that will get you where you need to go.

When we look at what we have and just be grateful for that, with content, life gets much better…there is no doubt about that.

I came here and taught people how they could maybe create a better quality of life for themselves. I’m not sure if I made any huge difference. I think it is too early to tell. Time will answer that. I think about how much others, if any, learned from me just by being a foreign person in a foreign land... But what had I learned?

I learned about the importance of the sharing of ideas and understanding. Its an amazing feeling to really take the time to share with someone else the life I have lived, and the skills I have that can be transferred to those who haven't had the opportunities I have had. It creates a win win for both parties. Good times, abilities, and good fortune are nothing if not shared with other people. Then there is understanding, then there is friendship, and then happiness for all involved. In my opinion, this is the true formula for creating the peace we all seek in the world.

When my mind settles the truth of my whole experience hits me. Who really changed the most here? I realize that I could never give as much to these people and to Peace Corps as they have given to me. For that I am forever grateful.

So this is my last blog in Honduras. And to all who read it I say thank you. Thank you for your support and love. Thank you for being interested in how others around the world live. I will never forget my time here and the people I shared it with, whether Hondurans in country or fellow Americans back home in the states.

It’s very difficult to leave, but it’s time to return home.

Honduras…thanks for the memories.

…until next time