Moving Onward

Once a month we like to share a story we find really interesting from a volunteer’s blog. This month we share one from REturn.

Clarence Say, 129 TESS

I’m sitting right now in the second story of Di Cafe next to Monomer Hostel with my computer plugged into an outlet that doesn’t seem to be working, sipping on a steaming hot Americano and munching on french fries wondering what it means to be happy.

This journey here across the globe has been for me, a search for meaning and purpose.

It is here I think, that I have figured out what it is that I want out of life – and it isn’t complicated. Friends, food, feelings, french fries. (Damn, these french fries are good.) It’s all part of a complex fabric that covers us all, keeping us moving forward and wanting. And lately I’ve been finding myself wanting. Longing. Not just for the things that I used to take for granted such as hot water, air-conditioning, a gym membership, fresh ground coffee, but for the things that I thought I could live without. Religion. Family. Culture. A relationship. Important things I know, but these are the things that I left behind to come here. To serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. To work at a school that is 100% Muslim, live with people I have never met before, be mistaken for Thai on a daily basis, dodge messages/invites from girls who can’t even pronounce my first name right … I’ve come to learn that the heart is a fickle thing. Love is hard. Trust is difficult. Integrating is more than just showing up. And yet, I’ve made a life for myself here. Amongst a people that I knew next to nothing about. In a place that I have never before heard of, let alone seen on a map.

Sitting here now, staring out the window, the sound of Bangkok traffic intermingled with voices from downstairs, the coffee grinder turning on and off, pop music playing on the station overhead, thinking to myself in Thai and then switching back to English, I can’t help but sit back, close my eyes, and just soak it all in. This moment.

Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d be here, right now, doing the things I’m doing now. Spending the last week in a sleeping pod, collecting poop samples for the Medical team, feeling up the quick dry material at the Uniqlo, and swiping through Tinder profiles only to head back to site in the evening on the 15 hour overnight bus after which comes the local van and a 45 minute walk back to my school housing on a hill. Back to the people that I love and will be leaving in less than 3 months. Back to the life of a teaching volunteer where the daily life of my community has become my religion, my students my family, my work my culture, and myself my one and only committed relationship. Will I miss it? Most definitely. But what I am most afraid of is readjusting. Learning that everything really is so transient. Momentary. Quick. Replaceable. It feels like my life is flashing before my eyes and I just wish that I could hold it close and keep it. Not that I fear the change itself, I’ve been changing all my life – it’s the leaving behind that hurts and the knowing that in a short amount of time everything will feel normal again.

This journey will have come to an end and I will still be be on the search for meaning and purpose.

Because it is for these two things that I have done everything that I have and will continue to do. It drives me forward – moving onward towards a destination just beyond reach. Living right now in the want and longing knowing that if I take a step back and look at it all from a distance one day, it will make more sense then it does right now.

Read Clarence’s previous articles and contributions.

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