Michael “Beaux” Mudd, 128 TCCS
I remember pulling out of my dad’s driveway back in January of 2009, headed for Montana. Up until that point of my life, I had always lived in Kentucky. I had dreamed for some time of living elsewhere in the world; I didn’t know where but I felt it was something I needed to do and knew I could always come back home. Eight and a half years later I still find myself on the road, reflecting upon what I’ve seen, done, and learned. To say I’ve been lucky to live in some of the most beautiful places on earth is an understatement. I’ve gotten to live where people take their holidays, where they choose to spend their money, and it’s where I’ve gained a better understanding of expectations.
It’s only normal for us to have expectations, especially when we are on vacation, as both the time and money are finite. We often base our trip on the amount of wildlife we saw, the number of pow days we shred on the mountain, or how many nights we saw the auroras. I believe we all set the bar too high all too often on these trips. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the chances to participate in activities and witness nature as they are presented versus trying to force them. I’ve witnessed all too many times people that leave with utter disappointment from a trip because they didn’t see the aurora, totally having missed all of the other small beauties in the area because they were distracted looking for something else. It’s something that has helped me along the way, in simply trying to enjoy the daily joys more, and appreciating the big events when I am so lucky to witness them.
Thailand has been a whole other beast when it comes to stepping back and enjoying the little things and setting our expectations at an appropriate level. As a PCV, Thailand can chew you up and spit you out when it comes to your expectations. As a teacher, I believe my expectations were quite high in regards to both my counterpart and students and when, early on, we were told to temper them it was quite eye opening. Now a year and a half into service, in which I can start to see the end, I get it. You truly do need to throw all of your expectations away. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t expect great things from your community or your school, but that a successful service can be found in many forms.
For me, it’s a continual process of appreciating the simple things, and especially working to let go of things I cannot control. It’s accepting that some days you just fail, some days the kids are just awful. Lately, my experiences over the past several years have helped out a great deal, in that they’ve helped me appreciate that I am here, living in this small community, and I’m being given a gift that is being able to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of village life. I’m not just coming in a for a short time and seeing the fun side of my kids. I get to see them warts and all, and I’m trying every day to appreciate that as much as the things that are easy. Thailand will teach you to alter your expectations one way or another. That much I know for certain, and it’s up to us as PCVs in how we deal with it.
For the remainder of my service, I hope to enjoy the little things more and more, take things as they come, and to not force my expectations on those around me. I want to appreciate the limited time I have with my kids and I look forward to all of the growth I know they’ll go through. I want to appreciate Thailand and all its crazy ways as they are, as challenging as that may be at times. I know once it’s all over, it’s those times that I will miss the most.