Sitting in NYC, I finally see that I'm not who I was when I left the states. I think I've noticed some of it while in Botswana, but it's hard to see the change in me when I'm constantly in the environment that taught me to change. Watching people interact on my journey from Kang to NYC just amazes me. Their behavior makes me realize how much I've changed mine.
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I give more. Mostly, because I have realized I need less. I gave the cleaning lady three hard-boiled eggs, simply because I could. I gave my taxi driver an apple- because if I get to eat an apple at 6 AM when he picks me up, he should be able to as well. I bought tights I didn't need (or want) from a woman selling them to raise school fees for her children. I gave trail mix to a woman in the airport because she said she was hungry and not feeling well. Any of that extraordinary? No. But I realize how much I love to share now. I say hello. I want to know you. I want to know your story, your heart, your dreams. I say hello to people who might just need the smile. I compliment strangers because I genuinely believe what I say and believe they should hear it - even if it surprises them to hear it from someone they don't know. I observe. The man next to me asked for a chicken dinner, but they only had pasta with a small chicken side salad. I offered him mine (in addition to his own) since I don't eat meat, and he graciously accepted. I noticed rude remarks from a gentleman at a coffee shop to the cashier - - and managed to make her laugh it off, left a tip, and let her know she was appreciated. I make friends quickly. We are all so similar- all of us in the world. Conversation is so much more natural when I know we can connect on the same level - the level of simply being human. I laughed and chatted all morning with a woman from Tanzania on the bus, exchanged contacts with a South African woman working at a restaurant I at at, and helped a Chinese woman get on a taxi to find her way to law school in NYC. I am continually humbled.I find myself in so many situations that scream, "you are so blessed. Give all you can & help as many as you can." We are here to help one another - and it's necessary to put aside and pride of shame that prevents us from giving all we can. I wonder what weighs upon hearts. I think about what people might be going through. I'm sure I'm rarely ever correct, but the point is - - no matter if someone is at a good point in their life or not - they deserve love. They deserve respect. They deserve a smile. A large majority won't return the favor - but every bit of good that goes into the world make it a better place & I know that I'm a part of that. I wear my own heart out on my sleeve. I have learned that my transparency with others allows them to be more open with me. We connect on a deeper level. It makes me more human. I can't pretend that I'm not emotional and that I don't get reduced to tears... I'm human. We all are. I err on the side of love. When I find myself in a situation & I don't know what to do, I love. I consider whatever option can show my love the most and do that. Maybe not everyone would agree, but giving more, loving more, listening more, and helping more makes my heart content. My soul is at peace that way. I laugh at absolutely everything. Really. EVERYTHING. Kids make me laugh the most - - but even when things go terribly wrong, I'm still laughing. I remember someone saying that PC Africa volunteers come back laughing at everything - and that certainly seems to hold true for me too :o)
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Have I changed the world in 16 months? No. But I have changed me. And even if I've just improved who I am, I guess I have made the world a bit better. I'm inspired, I'm motivated, and I'm determined to keep smiles upon strangers' faces, laugh along with the absurdities in life, hug & kiss my loved ones more & look for ways to help. Life is so sweet. I am so blessed. And my soul knows the difference between who I was & who I am. Thank you, Botswana, for changing my life. I look forward to another 10 months when I return. My heart is light & full of joy. Now to spread the joy.... Love & Light, TMV