Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why did I join Peace Corps at 27?



Where do you start with that question? Was it wanting a new life? Was I trying to escape something? Boredom? Disillusioned with the “American Dream”? Lack of career advancement opportunities? Having no idea of what area to pursue my current career or a new one? Not wanting to return to school to double my loan payments and having no idea what I would major in? Was I running away from commitment? The call of the unknown? The idea of facing new challenges?

It would be a lie to say that all of those things did not have a part in it but they were truly not the reason for my decision to join, to leave my family, my job, friends and possessions.

Somewhere between living on farmland to living 12 blocks from our nation’s capitol. Between having no one to having a large number of people who care and love me. Between living in the Hoosier heartland to Saint Lucia in a fishing village.

What do those things/experiences mean?

Having seen this life through so many different world views and points of view has left me with some ability to look at life in a different way. I am not drawing the same conclusions as the majority in regards to what this life is about. I don’t purpose to lay out what it is and it certainly changes as I grow older.

I would start out with the common comment that I have heard from other Peace Corps volunteers when people found out they were joining the Peace Corps. “Wow your joining Peace Corps, that is so cool, I thought about doing that, I really wanted to but I just couldn’t.”

As I spent the last 3 years working professionally I noticed a strange phenomenon after the first 6 months. I would look back at the last week and I could not remember anything of significance, except perhaps a good cigar, some good time with a friend. As the years went on it became 2 week 3 weeks where I would catch myself asking what happened the weeks before as it all become a blur in what was becoming to me, a monotonous life. Hanging on in quite desperation is the English way comes to mind from the Pink Floyd song Time.

I guess I was just not ready to give up, to settle into what seems to me at the time a boring mind suck.

I have also had the fortune to find that every time I make a move to something new and challenging I have met with tremendous success that has opened the door to other better opportunities. If I had listened to some people back in Indiana I would be working in a factory as a supervisor without all of these amazing life experiences.

Most people are happy with this but that’s not me at this point. Perhaps at 30-33 my tune will change.

It just does not make sense to me to work and live to make house payments and provide for your children before your 33 or so. What are you spending 40+ hrs or your life for? A house payment and a car payment? Bah?? Meanwhile your bored and locked in. (the exception is for a few people I know who have excellent, interesting careers and flexible wives) Truly I have found the best points in my life have been when I am meeting new people, experiencing new cultures. "Travel" as my friend Junnaid says is the time when you feel the most alive, the tastes, the sounds, the smells are new, they are not mind numbingly familiar like your day to day can be. Am I not right? Lets test it? What do people all talk about doing when they retire? What is it that they have always wanted to do? Travel…travel….travel. And for some they never get fulfill that dream because they are not able bodied (bad knees or diabetes) or they cannot afford it. Folks we have it backwards, do it while your able bodied and open to new experiences. Trust me, joining Peace Corps or teaching abroad at a later date is just plain more difficult, your set in your ways and lifestyle and your ability to assimilate different perspective, your tastes are dulled unless you have already lived a rich life.

Living the life I have chosen I feel like the first day of camp when my toes first touched the water. That excitement is there. I have two years to explore the entire Eastern Caribbean. Life is good my friends.

Well enough on the rant. Take care everyone.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't ever think you're not a good writer, oh toes in the water. I am getting to know you better through your blog than after three years seeing you every day. And, some of what you say makes me sad but mostly I am happier for you than I can express.

Lisa said...
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Big Country (Leo) said...
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Jon said...

For what it's worth, I agree about the writing. There's a really poetic sense to your prose.

As for the Peace Corp, that's fantastic! If life ever brings you by Chicago, be sure to stop by.

Anonymous said...

funny how the old mixes with the new, yet the root statements are the same. Still, you question why work to survive...
Sounds like you're enjoying searching for the answer.-me

Big Country (Leo) said...

Hello Jon, I am not placing you mentally, remind me.

Jon said...

Former member of Southside RP in Indianapolis. Friend of Joe B. We met at some Lafayette RP student function. We used to see each other a lot more often, but now it's only occasionally. Bibby's wedding is the last time I can remember. Check out the pics on my website if none of that rings a bell.

Cheers :)
Jon E.

ps - I can personally speak to the fact that you bought Joe a damn fine hookah for his bachelor party present. Well played.

Anonymous said...

Very Nice Leo. I have to agree that doing what you are doing is better when you're younger than waiting for retirement and not being able to enjoy it nearly as much. Of course when you reach my age and realize that you will probably work till you can't, you will appreciate it all the more, Love, Jim & Cass

Big Country (Leo) said...

At the bibby bachelor party! That was an awesome time, I will NEVER forget that pinyata. Did you have the new truck and worked at Delphi/engineer?

Big Country (Leo) said...

Right on Uncle Jim. It was very nice talking to you and Cass yesterday, thanks for sending the books for the kids.