The Mental Stress of Service

“The far darker side is the mental effects. For all intents and purposes, you will feel more alone than you have ever been, felt, or dreamt of being in your entire life. Sure, you will be a ‘member of your community,’ insofar as a 20-something foreigner with a very limited knowledge of their language and even less understanding of their cultural norms can integrate into a community which is physically and emotionally homogeneous. Let me say again: You Will Cry. You will cry, you will want to curl up in your empty bed and scream for the ‘simple’ things in life. You will want somebody to hold you, to just wrap their arms around you and pull you into them. There will be days when you feel like you are empty inside, there will be days when you feel like going nuclear and destroying anything you can get your hands on, including your neighbors, students, colleagues, and yourself.”

–Shawn (http://shawngrund.blogspot.com/2011/05/dark-side-of-peace-corps.html)

I’m starting to find that having a host family was a way to force us as volunteers into a routine.  In the week since I got my own place, my routine has broken down in a few places.  On top of that, I no longer have a reason to bottle up my emotions.  This weeks has had some of the highest highs and the lowest lows of my service thus far.  It’s hard to predict what will happen tomorrow–or this evening–and that makes everything either really entertaining or really annoying.

Like yesterday.  I had a difficult day in class and was supposed to follow it up with a second class.  As I walked to my Youth Center, however, I realized that would not be the case.  Instead, there were two armed guards at the two entrances   The governor for the region was inside, giving a speech to the educators of the regions.  I waited in an office nearby and ended up meeting with several of the educators afterwards.  Take my word for it: every day takes a severe turn from what you expected.  This is why all former volunteers tell you not to have any expectations.

The lonely part is terrifying.  I can visualize my best case scenario and worst case scenario back home….and I wouldn’t be as lonely as I am here.  I have friends nearby, yes, but my daily life is in this town.  This town where I don’t honestly understand 95% of what is being said.  Where I’m having trouble starting my work.  Where social interaction is important and it’s hard to be included if you are an outsider.  It’s all very frustrating.  In the end, I force myself to do things everyday.  Leave my apartment at least twice a day–at least one of those times should be long.  I force myself to buy something–something small so I have some interactions.

The thing is–it’s okay from there.  All you have to do is go out.  People who know you, want to talk to you.  People who don’t know you stare, and sometimes try to talk to you (in French .   But it gets you out of your head.  That’s the most important thing.  This has been a difficult week–and I think it will only get harder.  And better at the same time.  Only time will tell.

More Work to Come

I am exhausted.  I’m starting to reconstruct this website the way it should have been all along.  It’s starting to look much better.  I can’t wait until I start getting certain parts done to show off to all my followers.  By the way, we just hit 90 WordPress followers today!

I am going to go have fun for a few hours.  As a result, I will do all my writing and reading tonight.  I am going to re-implement the 1,000 word minimum to my daily schedule.  I will do that tonight.  Somehow my mind develops better prose when it is dead tired.  [As long as I am not to tired to write at all.]  I am also going to start working on a new book.  This one is one I have tried to read many times, but failed due to a busy schedule.  Homepully that is not the case this time.

Enjoy another poem:

All That Matters

Thank You to My Readers

I would like to start off today with a great big thank you to all my readers.  Yesterday, I uploaded a very personal piece that I hoped would grab a few eyes.  I had no idea.  Within 15 minutes of posting the writing, it had 200 views.  I don’t know if my writing has gotten better or if I’m just becoming more honest in my writing (or both).  But it doesn’t matter.  Thank you for all your support.

Today I am starting what I hope will be a new routine.  The coffee shop I write at is 2.5 miles from my house.  It is the perfect distance to walk.  Today I made the trek and feel great.  It is the perfect way to get my mind going so I am prepared to write when I arrive.  It is also perfect practice for the Peace Corps–which is less than 150 days away now.  I hope this new routine will improve my writing, help me add some muscle, and shave off the final 30 pounds I need to lose.  Only time will tell.

With Love,
Richard

P.S.–For any of you who missed my piece yesterday, here it is: Struggle & Love

Struggle & Love

On a whim, I decided I needed to write about something that has been plaguing my mind for the past few days.  I’ve tried to write about it a couple time before.  This time it just came out.  It is one of the more philosophical pieces I have ever written.  It also gets to the basis of what I believe in life and living.  I hope you enjoy.

Struggle & Love

The Plight of the Writer (Huzun)

It’s strange being a writer at times.  Your writing depends so much on emotion.  The thing is emotion is ever-changing–much like a river.  The question that stands is: How to you harness the power of that river in order to produce something that will allow a reader to care.  If I write to fast, I worry about the quality of my writing.  If I write to slow, I worry about the changing emotion (of me) changing the state of the writing even when that is not what I want.

There is a reason depression and writing are forever bound.  For one, those who suffer from depression seems to have a more poetic view of their world.  Aside from that, the depressed mind is constant.  If you allow yourself to fall into depression, you need not worry about the changing state of your writing.  The question you are left with is: Can you sacrifice your life for your writing.  When writing becomes your life, the question is simple to answer.

For my readers: A poem.

Questions Deep in a Cavern
I go on regular hikes in the mountains behind my house.  I have found a beautiful waterfall where I’ve started to write.  I went there to write about a something very specific.  The idea merged with my surrounding and formed my favorite poem to date.