Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Very Deep Water Please

The trick to eating extremely spicy food is DON'T STOP. The moment you finally give in to that desperately needed first sip of water, you're a goner. After that, you won't be able to go more than two bites without gasping for more. I've been known to go through more than a litre of water in a single meal for some of Victoria's more...enthusiastic dishes. But it's either deal with the fire or get totally bland food because Ghanaians don't do anything halfway.
Welcome to the teeter-totter, the land of extremes.

Something about this place seems to evoke equally extreme emotions. I've suffered homesickness so intense that I felt physically ill. I've also been so outrageously happy that I really thought I might explode, or implode, or maybe both at once.
I asked Hannah what compelled her to come back to Ghana only months after her four month volunteer placement here. Her answer was simple:
"I feel things here I don't feel back home."
Everything seems somehow sharper here. As if the layers have been stripped away right down to my nerve endings themselves.

No buffer. No coddling. Life as it is.

For me, it's been the ideal environment to experience my first true rite of passage into adulthood.
Ghana will show you what you're made of without pulling any punches.
I can't honestly say I was ready for that challenge, but I certainly sought it out. I knew right from the beginning that if I was going to postpone college and take a gap year, I was going to do it right. I guess maybe that's a big part of the reason I turned down Kentucky last minute. I just didn't seem...hard enough.

I firmly believe we rise as high as we need to in order to meet the situations we find ourselves in. If I had gone to Kentucky, it probably would've exhausted me and challenged my limits. Just like if I'd gone straight to NMU I probably would've experienced homesickness and learned a lot about what it means to grow up. But I would've handled it, so why not push the bar higher? I've seen it with volunteers a lot. All the volunteers who come when others are already here say they can't imagine if they'd had to be alone for some time. All the volunteers who came and had to be on their own for a while realized that you can endure a lot more than you think you can.

I wanted to swim in the deep end
without floaties.

Not because I thought I could, but precisely because I thought I couldn't.
I know myself, and when it comes to a lot of things, I'm a quitter. If I give myself an out, eventually I'll take it. So this time I didn't give myself an out. I bolted 6,000 miles from home as soon as it was humanly possible to a completely foreign world where I didn't know a soul. To prove what?

That if I gave myself no other choice, I'd be able to tread water for nine months.

1 comment:

  1. "Tread water for nine months"? Ah my dear lady, you are learning to swim the river of life.