The Sweet Spot

The President of ASHI, Mila Mercado-Bunker and I celebrating World Youth Day.

Well. It’s happened. I’ve been here in the Philippines over a month now and wouldn’t you know, I’ve hit The Sweet Spot. I’m still learning, growing and changing every day, but there are things I’m more sure of now. I can get around on jeepneys, tricycles, taxis - I have landmarks across Manila and in the provinces I’m working at in Rizal and Antique that guide me, I can negotiate when necessary and I know when that is. If I were to get terribly lost, I’d find my way again. I’ve made some friends. I know what questions to ask the Kiva Borrowers. I know how to endear myself to them by inflecting just so on certain words, the body language, interactions between age groups, social groups, men and women. I have a few favorite foods. I’ve gotten used to the hardship, accustomed even, and I’m living each day to the fullest. Most of all, I’m confident here, I’m not worried, I’m just fine.

In my travels and nomadic lifestyle, I call this “The Sweet Spot.”

This has happened to me before, after a few weeks in New Orleans, I stopped getting lost every other second, I had friends, I made connections. I adjusted.

Walking path in a village I stayed in.

Hey man, that’s life.

The prisoner, the soldier, the person with a sudden disability, or who has lost everything, or become a millionaire overnight - any of these require adjustment.

We either look at life and say, “Hey I’m going to make lemonade from lemons” or we hang our heads and say THIS IS JUST TOO HARD.

Which type of person are you?

I’m taken aback by the adjustment. I mean after all, things can be really hard here. My computer’s hard drive essentially melted, I’m fighting a truly terrible cold (I’ll be so mortified to have swine flu, holding off on the doctor for now), the placement was for “English Speaker” but man every day I wish I was fluent in Tagalog because it is a barrier in many places. I’m traveling to a new place every few days. Which means I’m living out of a backpack and part of me is damn exhausted from doing this for 7 months now (1 here but before on the go-go-go too). Internet is NOT guaranteed. I mean really. Adjusted? The Sweet Spot?

But it’s here. I can feel it. I wonder what the next month will bring. But better or worse, I’m learning a valuable lesson. I can adjust to just about anything. All it takes is a little faith in humanity, a strong sense of curiosity, a support network to turn to for when things are down and the understanding that these experiences come in waves and to maximize the up and minimize the down.

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