What’s the Rush?

Oh, I’ll tell you what the rush is. I have just one year to experience, soak up and learn as much as humanly possible in just one year here – not the mention trying to fit spiritual growth into my busy schedule. I’m joking. Or am I? Suddenly, this year, which by the way was actually only 11 months to begin with, has suddenly turned into four months. It feels like I’m just hitting my stride in my assignmnet and now I’m going home in like, two minutes.

Really, though, the important thing is having and enjoying experiences, and along with that, I’m hoping, come learning and spiritual and personal growth. I’m hoping that it’s kind of a package deal.

That being said, part of the experience, a big part, is understanding that there is, in fact, no rush.

As one might suspect, I tend to do things a bit faster than a lot of people here. Not everything, but some things. For example, walking. When I lived in Salatiga, I would occasionally eat out or go wsimming with the girls form the dorm where I was staying. Inevitably, while walking down the street, I would look back and see that somehow, inexplicably, the person I was walking with and I would be half a block ahead of everyone else.

Here in Abe, I routinely get bored about halfway through the 2ish block walk to church on Sunday mornings, as I spend a good portion of the time stopped or lingering so I don’t end up way ahead of my host mom. On Christmas, my host mom and I went to her brother’s house for dessert. She asked me if I wanted to walk or take a taxi. It wasn’t far, and I do love to walk, and that’s what I told her. She said, “great, we’ll just go pelan-pelan.” She said it several times. Now, as far as I know, pelan-pelan just means slowly, so I wondered why she emphasized that we would go slowly, and thought, “why not just…normally?”

This past week, at the end of a long adventure, I was in a taxi and still a ways to get home, when the man sitting behind me* didn’t like the way the driver was driving, so he said, “hey, slow down, will you?” And again, I was struck by the thought, “why does everyone always want to go slower? Don’t they realize that we’re already going slowly?”

Today I was in a taxi, again, and was running late to meet a friend to set up for our English class. No one was telling the driver to slow down, but at a few points he asked if people needed to go through a couple of side-neighborhoods, parts of the regular route that are on more of an “as-needed basis,” and a few people did need the detour. I was reminded again, as I sometimes am when these things happen, that at this point, being late is inevitable, and worrying about it will only make it an unpleasant experience. So I let my friend know I’d be there ASAP and then sat back and noticed what a beautiful afternoon it had turned out to be.

Incidentally, I asked a friend about the pelan-pelan thing last week. She said that in that context, it seemed to her like it means, “Yeah, let’s walk – no need to hurry.” I think I could get used to that idea…

If you’ve ever met me in person, you may already have picked up on the fact that I thrive on being stressed out. And let’s be honest, people who complain about being stressed out LOVE it. We can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly annoying to other people when we complain about this self-imposed condition. It’s probably not a terribly healthy lifestyle, there’s the annoyance/driving people away factor, and then there’s the hope that I’ll learn and grow through these new experiences I’m having here, and if I continue acting exactly how I did in college, as I found myself doing this past week, I don’t see a whole lot of potential room for growth.

Last week I was waiting for a report from a focus group discussion that I needed to translate and send to a focus group in the US before their discussion on Sunday night. Thursday, Friday and Saturday all passed, and I was still wondering where the report was. Early Sunday afternoon, I realized, I might think that it’s absolutely necessary to get that report done and sent, but I would be wrong. Life went on, the group in the US still had their discussion, and I stopped worrying about the report, which I then received the following Friday. As much as I want to the world to revolve around focus group discussions on gender, it just doesn’t. Maybe someday…

As for packing this year full of experiences, just living my everyday life in Papua is a different experience, if I can just chill out and let it, and I like that a lot. Over the last month I’ve really been making rest a priority (aside from the incident with that report) and it’s quite nice. In fact, when I lived in Java for two months, and went to language school for four hours a day, it was the first time in as long as I could remember that I was genuinely calm and relaxed. And it was glorious.

While I might be tempted to overdo it on the activity level here, I really view this year as a stepping stone; just one small part of a larger journey that God has in mind for me. So whatever experience I have this year, God will take care of me, and there will be hundreds or even thousands of adventures left for me to go on, even as I go from this place.

I’ll leave you with this quote from my beloved David Sedaris:

“What I found appealing in life abroad was the inevitable sense of helplessness it would inspire. Equally exciting would be the work involved in overcoming that helplessness. There would be a goal involved, and I like having goals.”

Parental Reunion Countdown: 40 hours till I pick them up at the airport. I am just beside myself. This is one of the most anticipated events of my life thus far :)

Plus, I’m talking to my brother right now, who will be leaving the US in 9 hours and I’ll meet up with him in Bali later this week. There you go, Nate, mentioned you by name.

*A taxi is like a bus, as in, it’s shared with other people and goes on a pre-determined route.

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