I don’t know what living out here has done to me. Life seems more beautiful, more subtle. The undertones and coloring of life have taken on more importance and I find myself enjoying the moment in all its complexities. At first, I thought perhaps I had become way too serious. The light-hearted, care-free Alex from yesteryears didn’t seem to come out as easily. But this evaluation didn’t seem correct. My perspective hadn’t changed, the same reasons I had been joyous all the time still existed. The only way I can think to explain it is in an analogy. As a kid, coke was one of the greatest drinks. Sweet, delicious and pure bliss in a bottle. Nothing complicated, just precious sweetness. However, after getting older, growing a more sophisticated palette, and expanding your taste horizon, you begin enjoying other drinks. Like coffee. It seems almost a crime to drink coffee instead of coke, since coffee has such a bitter flavor. Yet it contains so many layers of flavor that though it doesn’t seem as enjoyable as coke, it actually is more so because of its complexity.
So there it is. Sometimes situations seem too coke-like for me to enjoy. Too simple, too much on the surface, not enough underneath. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the less subtle pleasures in life, like a coffee drinker will always enjoy the occasional coke, but they feel more empty. And this new change doesn’t imply that I don’t enjoy the simple things in life. It actually means that the simple joys in life are more intense, because now I am more in tune with the underlying beauties during those moments. It really is an amazing feeling.
But I worry how this new attitude will come across. It can easily come off as condescending. Add that to the feeling that no one can relate because of my recent experiences (except other Peace Corps), I see now why many return volunteers not only have a hard time adjusting, but come off as snooty. It’s an easy defense mechanism to shut ourselves off from a world we don’t feel comfortable in.
So, while I enjoy this new perspective in life, we’ll see how it translates back home. Inshallah it’ll add to my US life, not take away.