“So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” -Helen Keller
“Live with the knowing that you are priceless. That you are lovely. That you are a delight. That you are a light. Live with the knowing that you are irreplaceable.” -Kayil Crow
While blog readers across the country and bored Facebook scrollers have had a few months vacation of not having to read my posts, I figured today of all days is an important day to temporarily halt the hiatus and offer up a few words.
The past few months have been an incredible whirlwind, to say the least, and I’m so fortunate for the experiences I have been able to have. Moving back to Peru to gain more clinical experience and returning to Guatemala to serve the beautiful people of Sumpango were without a doubt among the highlights, but tonight’s focus is on Haiti.
Last month, I was lucky enough to have worked alongside an incredible group of mental health professionals in Croix des Bouquets with Global Trauma Research—an organization whose meaningful and impactful work goes beyond limits. While in Haiti, we had the opportunity to work with medical providers, teachers, lawyers, and both religious and community leaders—all of whom had one goal: learn more about mental health and find ways to provide sustainable mental health care in their community.
While I’ll go into details about the trip later on, I want to bring to light the fact that Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake on this day eight years ago that devastated the lives of so many. One and a half million people were displaced, between 200,000-300,000 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were left injured. While we read about natural disasters that take place across the globe on a frequent basis, it’s important to note the horrendous tragedy that struck this truly beautiful country as we remember those who were lost eight years ago.
While I have yet to learn Haitian Creole, I did learn the saying “Lespwa fè viv,” or “Hope makes one live.” Through all the adversity and challenges they have faced, the Haitian people have persevered time and time again. I saw firsthand how the people of Haiti continue to push forward with hope for a brighter tomorrow, and having worked alongside such inspiring leaders in the community while abroad, I truly believe that this brighter tomorrow is most definitely a possibility.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” -Jawaharlal Nehru
This morning (last Sunday), a few of the students and I traveled to Puerto Chicama, also called Puerto Malabrigo, which is two hours north of Trujillo. We arrived in the early afternoon, and spent the day exploring the area alongside the beach. After trying to swim in the water (which was pretty cold, to say the least), we rented four-wheelers for less than three dollars.
While I’ll admit that I was hesitant about going at first (because of homework, wanting extra sleep, and plenty of other excuses one could pull out of the book), I have to say that driving by the breathtaking beach and lagoons with great friends on a beautiful day with incredible weather was more than I could have asked for. It’s spontaneous adventures like this that last as memories for a lifetime.
While it’s definitely easier said than done, it’s important for us to remember that the only things guaranteed to us in life are death and taxes. Whether or not you pay your taxes is a different story, but everything in between is completely up to us. The decisions we make, the actions we take, and the dreams and adventures we choose to pursue are ours to make.
It’s easy to say “No” and stay within our comfort zone (which for many of us on a Sunday morning is under our covers), but it’s taking that first step outside the front door and saying “Yes” that leads to new adventures. More often than not, the ball is in our court, and the steps we decide to take are entirely up to us. So why not decide to live a little and enjoy the most of our time here?
Today (Sunday—yes, I know I’m behind) was a day designated to catching up on homework. This week, we’ll begin our presentations for teachers in the public school system in El Porvenir, Trujillo, and Trujillo Alto (which I’ll discuss later this week), but there’s a lot of preparations to be done. For today’s post however, I wanted to backtrack to something I wrote about in my prior post. I mentioned a song from Thalía titled, “A quien le importa,” or something along the lines of “To whom is it important to?”
For whatever reason, so many of us find importance in what others think or say about us as we grow up. We find that our sense of confidence, or lack thereof is developed and fostered based on the opinions and beliefs of those around us. When you speak with elder adults in the later stages, many of them will likely tell you the opposite, and explain that they could care less what others think of them because at this stage in life, they should be free to express themselves however they please.
Why is it that we have to wait until we reach an older age to finally learn to live for ourselves and not based on what others think of us? What is stopping us from doing so earlier so that we can truly get the most out of what we want from life? How would our lives differ if we went back in time and only focused on our opinions, as opposed to those of others?
Could you imagine how awful it would be if we could ignore everybody else for just a moment and truly enjoy every aspect of ourselves? What a concept it would be if we could care less what others think and treat ourselves as kindly as we treat those around us. Sounds terrible and pretty scary, right?
It’s such an easy concept, but one that for some reason is much harder said than done. So what is it that’s stopping us? Yes, we can obviously find fault in these learned behaviors by blaming society, the media, and whoever else is behind our dependency to place such a large emphasis on what others think. But at the end of the day, we are the only ones who stop ourselves from breaking this cycle. We are the only ones who can push ourselves to believe in ourselves. We have more power than we tend to believe, but like any change that we want to see, it has to start with us.
This whole lack of a cell phone thing really got me wondering why our society places such a large emphasis on electronics and non-verbal communication. Text messaging instead of phone calls, following people on social media sites instead of maintaining active communication, ignoring one another at the dinner table to “talk” to others via cell phones instead, and the infamous “let me take a picture of this so I can capture the moment.” When you don’t have a phone in front of you to partake in these actions, the only thing you really have is time to sit and think about all of it.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s sad to think that so many pictures and videos are lost, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are—pictures and videos. The memories will always remain. (Yes, I’ve been told numerous times that I should have backed everything up on the cloud, but seeing as I’m not the most tech-savy person out there, the only thing I know about the cloud is that it’s what the weather forecaster speaks about whenever providing inaccurate weather forecasts). And in case you were wondering, no, my sense of humor hasn’t improved since losing my phone.
But really think about it. Everyone is trying to capture the moment we are currently living in, but are we really capturing the moment by snapping a picture? Of course you can look back years from now and enjoy the tangible object you have in your hand, but if we’re so focused on “capturing the moment,” we may lose out on actually living in and enjoying the moment. And that would be the biggest loss of all.
Maybe this is me trying to rationalize not having a cell phone at the moment and trying to look on the bright side, but I do hope that the day will come where we can stop relying on electronics to communicate with others while distancing ourselves from those around us, stop using emojis to describe how we’re feeling, and stop trying to preserve the moment we are currently in. When you take the time to think about it, each of the aforementioned actions only cause us to miss out on so many incredible memories that could be made all while doing so.
Yes, even though I’m sitting here writing about the challenges of communication in an era of technology, I still went out and purchased a Peruvian cell phone this evening in order to communicate with others. However, there is still something to be learned, seeing as so many of us are guilty on missing out on the current moment every time we try to “capture” the moment as best as we can. And as a side note, since the quality of the camera is subpar, I’ll leave you with a blank canvas to paint your own picture.