Would it be terribly wrong to say that I don’t think my life truly started until I joined the Peace Corps? Don’t get me wrong, I was alive and surviving through the mundane existence that I had… Go to work, go home, make dinner (or get takeout), go to bed, wake up and repeat. Where my relationship status (or lack there of) constantly worried me and took its toll on my self-esteem…. and relationships that I did have always felt like something was missing from them. My favorite times were the days I got to spend with my sister and nieces. When I thought about my future and one day having kids… I asked myself, what are you going to tell your kids you did before in life? What amazing stories do you have to tell them? That made me stop and reevaluate everything. I remember being a kid and looking at the beautiful things around my house…. a gorgeous oriental wooden screen, an oriental trunk, a beautiful black and red kimono, and oriental vases that my mother had gotten when she lived in Japan. Hearing her talk about how much she loved and missed Japanese food and Japan. And seeing pictures from when she lived there. Or hearing about how when she was a kid she lived in Holland with her parents for a year (and had an Indonesian landlady), and seeing the wooden shoes, mini windmills, and cuckoo clocks they had brought back with them. I remember thinking “I can’t wait to do that.”But like so many goals it got brushed into the pile of “Wouldn’t it be nice…” things to do along with medical school, writing a book, rock climbing, and whatever other goals and aspirations I deemed myself unfit or unworthy of achieving.
Then I finally woke up and decided to do something drastic. I decided to just go for it! And I have been living ever since.
It started a year ago. I said good-bye to a less than mediocre relationship, and I said ‘see you soon’ to family and friends as I left for my new life in Indonesia. I didn’t know what would await me, but I knew that it was going to be an amazing journey. I left home home on April 4, 2011 and since that time these are some of my unforgettable experiences:
I got to explore Hong Kong and got to see one of the largest Buddha statues in the world.
I visited Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It was built by the Sailendra Dynasty between AD 750 and AD 850. I saw reliefs carved into the walls of that temple that were so detailed they made me gasp. I climbed to the top and saw the Volcano Merapi and saw the toll its eruption in 2006 took on Borobudur. I tried to count all of the 500 and some odd Buddha statues and carvings within its walls (I was not very successful).
I have hiked through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life.
I have gotten felt up by an Orangutan, gotten to feed a baby elephant, and been so close to a tiger that when it hissed at me its saliva hit my hand and camera lens.
I have spent all night (13 hours) climbing a mountain just to see an amazing view and then turn around right after sunrise (without sleeping) and climb down so I could take a well needed bath and go to bed for the next two days.
And I have made friends that will have forever impacted my life.
Through these experiences and many more, I have learned that nothing in life should be deemed impossible, and that it is never too late to get started on your journey. Do I know what I will do in a year when my service is over? Not a clue… but the possibilities are endless. (You never know what you can do until you try to do it).
Always remember, “Not all who wander are lost.”~ Tolkien