Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is more important than being really really ridiculously good-looking?

How do you do it? You are likely one of the majority of people on this earth who spends most of your time living in one location, at the same job, seeing the same people, eating the same foods, and laughing at jokes so similar to the ones made the week before.

I am back in NY for less than two weeks, have yet to recover my energy from my recent travels and am already searching cheap flights to anywhere, literally anywhere.

I spoke with a friend recently, who travels more than I, who cautioned me. He said that having the experiences I have already by my age means I am doomed to never live a normal life. I don't know if I would consider living an unusual life being doomed, but I think he has a point.

Glancing through facebook photos - always the best way to discover what someone is like - I realised I have pictures of me with Asians, pictures of me with Africans, pictures of me with Latins, pictures from all over the world. Each of those pictures connects me to a period of growth; the first time I saw a baby whose eyes were glazed over from malnutrition, the first time I realised that in most places of the world poverty is insurmountable (due to lack of education, disease, lack of jobs, etc). The first time I saw a woman with leprosy begging and I was horrified in case she reached out and touched me, and horrified at myself for not stopping to see if I could help her in any way. The first time I met hundreds of teenage girls who had all been raped multiple times since a young age. The first time I met a doctor who abused his patients, yet he was their only hope.

There have been other firsts as well, the first time I gave a speech to hundreds of Nigerians, and was terrified and my hands shook. I began my speech with a rhetorical question, which the entire audience answered. I realised my speech needed more audience involvement and changed it on the spot, adding to my fear.

When I return to New York, to a comfortable life where I have every opportunity and option in my daily life and my future I am so grateful to have been born and educated in the west. I am always torn between enjoying my salad, Ultimate tournaments and visiting with friends and the desire I have deep inside to return to these other places and find some way to offer what I've received to more people.

When I think of all the ways my dreams set me apart from a normal life I wonder if I can change my dreams, and I have to remind myself why my dreams are different. When I
remember the people I've met who have changed my dreams I am so grateful I have been given the opportunity to help them, and the knowledge they exist. I'm taking improvisation classes, surely if I ever need to I can act out a normal life. In the meantime, I am grateful that my dreams match my experiences unlike people who have dreams of a normal life with no way of ever achieving it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Day in the Life of...

There is no such thing. Each day is different, although I've almost enjoyed returning to some semblance of routine in NY. Monday was my first full day at a desk since mid-June. It felt weird. I was working at warp speed trying to get everything done before I had to run off to my next flight or some important meeting, and every 30 minutes would remind myself that I have no plans to travel for at least another month and could actually focus on projects that are not urgent and yet important.

Since returning, there are so many projects I knew I couldn't do while travelling and had pushed so far to the back of my mind I'd forgotten of their existence. Suddenly they've all come tumbling forth again and I'm struggling to prioritise amongst all the mountains of work I'm suddenly confronted with.

I also thought, since no one knows I'm back, that my first week would be relatively calm. Instead I've been singly to triply-booked each night this week. All events I couldn't skip out on; the opening of the UN General Assembly,  a friend's birthday party, etc.

I've been enjoying waking up before 8am and before my alarm clock goes off. I can't chalk it up to jetlag as I really didn't struggle with it after my first couple days in Thailand. It seems my body hits a certain level of exhaustion or day-time uncertainty and then quite obediently sleeps when I tell it to and wakes up when forced to, regardless of day/night time.

I miss travelling, having each day be a surprise and opportunity to meet new people, eat new foods and learn something new about another culture just doesn't seem to get old. Returning to a culture I'm comfortable with allows me to look at it through the eyes of other cultures and also to realise that as open as I may be I have certain paradigms that continue to effect my thought processes and solutions to world problems. There are absolutely values to some paradigms I possess, and other experiences and solutions I simply won't generate because of my background.

Today, I missed a meeting by calculating a time-zone difference wrong. I've received emails from almost every continent. I've learned about some famous people from another country who I never would have discovered on my own and I've brought people together in a search for information. 

This evening, I will attend a UN reception along with some of our interns currently in NY from different parts of the world.  I will then go grocery shopping since I am down to a few cans of food and ramen noodles - that's what happens when I haven't shopped since April.