This may come as a surprise to some. Others may have seen this coming from day one. The truth is that, for me, it has been a gradual process of deep thought and prayer that has guided me to make this decision. I joined the Peace Corps and came to Peru because, after four years of killing myself over something that seemed so meaningless and materialistic, I had a desire to help others. I know I came here with the right motives and an all or nothing mindset. In fact, up until a short while ago, I still had the right motivation and a feeling of peace. Slowly that feeling of peacefulness has faded and has been replaced with discontentment and confusion, a longing in my heart for some sort of change. I have no obvious reason for feeling this way. The other volunteers in Arequipa are amazing people and I am blessed with an incredible site. I kept thinking I was just in one of those “valleys” we talked so much about during training. I kept trying to remind myself of all the reasons I should stay and suddenly found that foolish pride was number one, helping people was no longer at the top of my list or even on it for that matter. The more I thought I about it, I realized I am doing service work selfishly. What an oxymoron.
Another important realization I have made is that I was helping people at home. I just wasn’t able to see it at the time. I was a shoulder to cry on or someone to just listen in the middle of the night when a friend needed someone. I was a daughter who eased her mother’s worries by living in the same country as her. I was a grandaughter that came to visit whenever I could. I was there for anyone that needed a companion for an adventure. I was a niece to pass time with when a daughter moved away. I was a fellow design student that had a small role in helping the others get through it. I was a coworker that would always give someone a ride home. I was a babysitter. I was an advice giver, a dog walker, and someone who specialized in always making people laugh. I don’t want this to sound like bragging because it is not. It is really just a self-evaluation that I am able to make because I have stepped out of my life to get a third party perspective.
I have been gone for 7 months (8 if you want to count California and England) and in reality not that much has changed at home. The world did go on turning without me. Friends and family missed me but they continued living their lives. Some new buildings were built. Some businesses had closed. There is a McDonalds in Shartlesville now?! Some old friends moved back home and some old friends moved far away. People got engaged, married, pregnant, or became parents. Kids got older… well everyone got older. And a close friend passed away. I don’t want to imagine what I would miss in another year and a half. I knew I would miss out on things when I left. It was part of the deal. I guess I just didn’t think about how short life is when I did it. Yes I am young but, as we have all recently seen, that doesn’t always matter.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
As much as I hate quitting things, I think that is an awful reason to stay. I will have other opportunities to travel and other ways to pay for grad school. Did I even want a government job anyway? I will be able to visit Peru in the future. I will be able to stay friends with the fellow volunteers that I am blessed to have met. I have faith that I will be able to find some sort of job regardless of the state of the economy. Although it will be hard to leave, it would be even harder to stay. Peru will always have a place in my heart. It has changed me more than I can even know right now. It just all comes down to what I truly believe is the most important thing in my life… spending it with people that I love. Kara always says, “I spell love T-I-M-E.” I was able to do that before I left and now I have to spell it the normal way and in emails or myspace messages. What I am trying to say in a really round-about way is that I want to know that I spent as much time as I possibly could with Granddad (and everyone else) before it is too late.