Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Life Worth Living

I only have three weeks until I'm no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer. I'd like to let that sink in for a minute.

(insert minute here)

Understanding, of course, that I'll always 'be' a Peace Corps Volunteer, this realization - captured in one, simple sentence above - carries at least a dozen different emotions; and though I'm not one for abrupt endings, I'm pretty sure a lot of things are about to change abruptly.

My way of coping (read: ignoring) is to obsessively plan the details of my next travels and, like an excited child, I find it hard to sit still for very long. At any given moment I'm prone to random, public outbursts of excitement which include, but aren't limited to, the type of dancing I usually keep to myself and a wistful smile, put on my face by wine sipping, obviously touristy daydreams. It's not that I'm ready to leave Ghana behind, but I'm excited to continue my adventure.

Ghana is the home of over 70 different languages and at least as many different cultural practices and beliefs. While I admit that this became normal for me, I recognize that Ghana offered me over three years of unique daily experiences. It's why, even at its most boring, my time spent here was worth dozens of blogs, 36 paged letters, and a ridiculous amount of photos. With a new adventure at my fingertips (and each jump of my heart bringing it closer to my throat) I think I may have found the secret to a life well lived. A life well-lived is one spent in exploration.

What I think most people don't realize is that a life spent in exploration can be spent anywhere. Being in the Peace Corps simply made the adventures, the diversity, more obvious. I felt obligated to experience the world around me. It was my duty to share those experiences simply because I was having them. It was part gratitude, part curiosity. I appreciated my life here because it was unique and it came from a completely different perspective, but who's to say that needs to stop?

Traveling to Europe is obviously exciting; it's not every day I get to run my hands along terribly dirty, terribly ancient buildings, but (along with all of the other things I managed to find in Ghana) I found that I've rediscovered my curiosity. Too many people forget, as they get older, as the bills pile up, as life gets more complicated, that the world is interactive. It's meant to be enjoyed. As three years slipped past me, I realized that it's not enough to survive each day; we must engage in the world around us, appreciate our capacity for helping and learning and loving, find something exciting about its smallest detail.

Before I moved to Ghana I was in love the idea of traveling, but it was still an idea; I was determined to become a citizen of the world, an active member, an avid explorer, an ever-lover. Somewhere along the way I succeeded. Maybe I'm not a perfect citizen - there are days when I ignore the world, cuddle up with a good book and fall in-love with a fictional universe - but I'm here. I'm here and I'm committed. I've put a ring on it - a metaphorical ring in the form of tiny, plane-shaped carbon footprints that, I hope, will lead me anywhere. Yep, I said it: anywhere.

You see, it doesn't matter where I end up as long as I'm doing something I love and actively exploring what the world has to offer (which happens to be something I love). When I joined the Peace Corps I took a giant leap into a life that offered something new every day. What I realized was that grand gestures weren't necessary; every moment anywhere has something new and exciting to offer.

Shift your focus. Explore and stay curious.
A life well-lived is as simple as that.