Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Everything and Nothing

I've often said that I want to do everything and nothing at the same time. It's a strange feeling to want that and I've wondered about the complexity and the paradox of that statement. I think I've finally figured it out...

I want to do everything, but not because I necessarily want to do it forever. I want to be able to live my life knowing that I did it. Like Peace Corps and law school. They are both things that I have said I want to do for a long time. And I unequivocally do want to do them. Sadly, I haven't because I have been hung up on the "why" for doing things. Why should I do this? What is it that I want to do and why will this help me get there? I'm not sure if I want to be a lawyer some day or if I want to spend my whole life working for the UN. I do know, however, that the idea of doing those things intrigues me and inspires me and is exciting. I also want to go to Bali and practice yoga and I want to sit and watch the sun set and then rise over the Grand Canyon without moving a muscle. I want to be a dog walker and play fetch and wander through the park with no other purpose than being outside. All of these things are entirely different and none of them are leading me to any great end or specific goal other than doing things that make me happy.

Life is short and we consciously only live once. I want to do these things because I want to do them. Isn't life really all about the things that you do and people that you meet anyway? I can't imagine life being about more than that. If you go through life having experiences that make you happy and doing things because you want to, then I can only assume that you will be leaving the world a better place because you will feel joy and accomplishment and will want to share those things with others.

So I've decided that I don't need a purpose or a reason for wanting to go to law school or wanting to sit and watch the leaves change color. I should do those things because I want to. I have been letting the fact that I don't know what I want the end to look like to hold me back from doing the things I want to do. I need to let go of the "why" and try to hold onto the "why not".

I think I am so proud of myself for finally applying to the Peace Corps because it means I am starting to live the "why not."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yes, I Want To Party

Since word got out that I finally took the plunge and applied for Peace Corps, everyone has been asking me about my "going away party." Well, folks, I am here to say that I have absolutely no idea when this blowout party will be yet. The problem is that I am still waiting for confirmation that I passed medical so that I can talk with a Placement Officer and receive my formal invitation to serve. Without these things, I cannot set a date for this "going away party." Yes, I want to party. And yes, I want to know when it is going to be just as much as each of you (probably more). So, if you want to get this party on your calendars soon so that you can start getting excited about it, then you are going to need to contact Peace Corps and let them know it's time for me to finish up the process and receive my formal invitation. Once I have that, we will get this party started!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Be Grateful for Water

Today is Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year's topic is water.

I love water. I probably drink 70 oz of water a day, it is always refreshing, and my favorite water is straight from a hose. I haven't had to worry about getting sick from drinking contaminated water from the only muddy river nearby. But this is a reality for nearly half the world. And, if you consider that only 1% of the world's water is suitable for drinking and that the population is steadily increasing and the health of our environment continues to decline, the number of people without access to clean water may soon be rising.

In about six months, I will be heading to Sub-Saharan Africa and will most likely have to face this reality and will truly understand the impact of the global water crisis. In the meantime, I am proud to join the Blog Action Day movement to help people learn more about the importance of clean water. It is vital that we realize how lucky we are in the United States to have clean water and begin to take action towards helping those less fortunate.

Here is some information you should know:
  • Water problems affect half of humanity.
  • Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
  • Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
  • 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
  • Some 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhoea.
  • Children lose 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
  • Close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
  • Millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water.
  • To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit. The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses, and labour diversions  are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.
There are a number of organizations already in place to help bring clean water to people around the world. Take a minute to look at some of these websites to find out how you can help! Clean Water Campaign, The Water Project, Global Giving, Clean Water Action, and Charity Water.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Few Things I've Learned About Myself

For the last few weeks, I have been implementing my "pre- pre-planning" list-making and have learned a few things about myself...
  1. I have a lot of stuff. Literally just stuff - stuff that I have collected over the years and have carried with me from place to place. I like all of this stuff but it plays no significant role in my life other than my liking it.
  2. I have a lot of clothes. Yes, I like these clothes and I'm sure I get around to wearing them all eventually but I always reach for my wardrobe staples - a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, my moccasins or my TOMS, and a fun necklace or scarf. This realization is very comforting to me as I look forward to packing.
  3. I use Q-Tips a lot more than I ever realized (and for a lot more than just cleaning out my ears). And, honestly, I think they would have been something I didn't bring with me because I would have thought they played an insignificant role in my life.
  4. I really don't use very much stuff. This is another comforting fact.
  5. I am ridiculously prepared. I have read countless blogs by current Peace Corps Volunteers, I have read every blog I can find by volunteers in Botswana (which is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that stages in April says Peace Corps Wiki), and I have studied about Africa. I have an idea of what to expect from where I get stationed and I am learning more and more about what I can bring with me (both literally and figuratively).
I am excited and I am ready. Now if only I didn't have to wait another six months....