Recently I had the immense privilege of having my partner visit my site for three weeks: immense because it was weighty and emotional; privilege because it brought levity and clarity to my life. Overall, the visit was a welcome interruption of life at site, which had become stagnant with routines and rituals. His visit gave me a deeper appreciation for my community but more than anything, it emboldened my self-esteem and buoyed me to a new level of thinking about my service.
I find myself now reflecting on how powerful and rare love is— and how his visit is shaping my experiences here in Thailand since he has left. Here are some musings on what I am feeling/learning/thinking about in this fallout:
- Love makes even the most unpleasant circumstances more bearable. This is particularly true if the situations involve termite infestations, hot climate and loudspeaker interruptions. Sharing these burdens with others will soften their severity and allow for true connections to be made– remembering this as I continue my service will only ever serve me well.
- You don’t need to be your own best friend. I am a deeply private person and don’t enjoy sharing myself with others. And so predictably at site I found myself convinced that the only person I needed was ~myself~. This, of course, is not sustainable (at all) but I didn’t even realize I was doing it until my actual best friend came to visit. It was a pleasant realization for me that I could finally unload on another person– it made me reflect on who in my community I can trust to do this with more. I will need to do this more if I don’t want to burn out.
- What are you here for if not to risk your whole heart? The intense joy and the crushing heartache of seeing the person I love for the first time in 8 months– it gave my heart whiplash. It hurt. It hurts. A lot more than I’d care to admit. Saying goodbye is not a strength of mine and I will continue to say goodbyes throughout my service– often, I ask myself what kind of fool subjects themselves to such predictable, consistent pain. The truth for me, however, is that all of the pain is meaningless in the face of love. Just as sure as I will hurt and get hurt is the fact that I will love and be loved. And what else did I really expect to do anyway?
I am cheering for all of my fellow volunteers to be successful and happy during their service. And I am sending extra love today to my fellow volunteers who are in relationships during their service because we are all too often met with doubt and heartache. The world needs more lovers, more friends, more connections– this is only ever more true.