My days as a Peace Corps Volunteer, here in Georgia, have freed me in ways that I could hardly have anticipated when I arrived in-country. Of course now I am working in a somewhat different atmosphere; that is, in school as an Educator so my schedule is not strictly 9-5. I am in a classroom and not an office and it sure does make such a difference. There are some days that my classes don't start until 10:20am and sometimes my day ends at 12:30pm. Of course I have other days that start much earlier and end much later; but the variety has allowed me to experience living in a totally different (not 9-5) way. My work still continues; for example, I still have lots of school work to do in preparation for classes; language classes, emails and all the normal details that are required for living (as well as adjusting to another culture and my host family). However, I am now living with an appreciation of that which surrounds me rather than marching to a schedule that at times was frantic and crushing as well as confining.
I ask myself if this change I see in myself is a result of living in Georgia or is it just the culmination of many aspects of my life changing. I really do think that life here in Georgia is more difficult; and as a result I take things much slower. I walk slower as I fear tripping and falling, I pay more attention to what I am doing rather than being on auto-pilot and I allow myself time to absorb what is happening. I now see the sun up in the sky rather than just when it is barely over the horizon. My grandmother and I sit on the porch and watch the sun move across the sky as well as the clouds. I often stand in the rain and feel the water wash over me. I have nature all around me, here on my mountain, and I can actually see from day-to-day how much fuller a tree or plant is; or how many more grapes leaves there are on the vines. I walk and listen to the water that is rushing down from the mountain (as the snows melt) and try to block out the cacophony of car engine noises on the road to hear the birds. I can sit along the road and just watch people riding their donkey or horses and make sure I step over whatever little gift they may have left on the road. I listen to the horses pulling an entire tree down the road as I know I will soon hear the chain saw cutting it up for fire wood.
At my home on the mountain I can sit on the porch and watch how the breeze glides over the plants and flowers. I can also feel how the breeze glides over me. I used to be afraid of bees; however, now I just observe them going from flower to flower. On the road near my home there is very little car traffic and no air traffic so the quiet and stillness, at first, was a little un-nerving. I am a "City Gal" and not hearing the hustle and bustle of land and air traffic was so strange. I don't miss hearing police and ambulance sirens, car horns honking, car alarms, helicopters or small engine airplanes and other noises associated with a metropolitan city. Any noise at this point is an interruption and not at all welcomed.
Of course over the years I have had all of these nature/life experience; however, they have been isolated and fleeting as there was always something to take me away from "being in the moment." It has taken me a whole year to really understand that my daily living has changed and as a result to appreciate that there is really nothing to do other than to just be present from moment-to-moment as to what is happening to and around me. I don't have to remind myself as often to just enjoy all of it.
My time here on the mountain is short. I am told that the second year of service goes really fast. I will miss this place. However, in the meantime I plan to soak up every minute of the 15 months that I still have left. One thing that I will take with me is the feeling that I am finally "Out of the Box"; and, replace it, as the song goes, of being "In a Room without a Roof!"