Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Year Later: a Vision Quest and an Introspect

To measure self-growth, to mediate maturation, is as difficult as it sounds (seriously, I wrote that four times before it sounded right). And I am no exception:

June 8th marked the training of a new batch of volunteers (I say 'batch' like we ship them by the dozen in bulk). Aside from being overwhelmingly nostalgic about my days as a trainee, I was startled to find that I would suddenly be considered a deep well of information. I picked up my plastic, heart-shaped, hand-held mirror and asked quietly: "Am I a deep well, mirror?" (mirror-like silence) "What could I possibly know that would fill a me-sized well, let alone a deep one?" (pointed mirror-like silence)

It wasn't until last week, marked by a trekking trainee of my very own, that I realized I had vastly underestimated the kind of change that can occur in thirteen months.

Elizabeth Lyons, my vision quester, asked a lot of questions. More than this, she asked a lot of good questions (so specifically tailored to me that I thought, for a second, she might be my PC soul mate ... and realized, a second later, that my assumption was correct). As I answered her questions, which led to discussions, it dawned on me that I sounded like an adult. Now, I'm not entirely sure I could explain to you what an adult sounds like (or what I sounded like in that specific moment), but I felt different and it wasn't just the way I spoke, but the way I was. It was like staring into a tiny, plastic mirror and finding a deep, dark well staring back.

I bring this up because a lot of people have been asking me how I've changed. Though a year in Ghana merits a little introspection, I couldn't seem find an answer. I kept sitting there staring at the screen, hands poised over the keyboard and waiting for inspiration: How had I changed? Surely I could answer that without consulting a heart-shaped piece of plastic ....

Blank. Blank all over the screen, blank in every corner of my brain, blank in the general direction of a little plastic mirror that could.

But then I got Lizzie and after Lizzie I got a message asking a slightly different question: 'Do you think we'll notice that you're different when you get home?' It suddenly occured to me that I'd been thinking about it all wrong. Of course it had been hard for me to measure change - I couldn't readily observe it (even with the help of a slightly awkward, heart-shaped mirror ... sorry, mirror).

What I can say is this: I know I've changed, I just don't know how. I'll leave that up for to you to decide in another year. I know I've changed only because the way I view the world has changed - something I didn't notice until last week (when I was given both a platform and an audience). So, while my little mirror keeps it's secrets, I'll be patiently waiting to see just how different I seem  because, apparently, I've been sneaking around behind my own back, hording knowledge and doing change-y type things.