This is a little bit late, but as it is now 2016 I felt like I needed to sit down and actually comprehend what all happened this year. This past year was split between the United States and the Philippines. Perhaps this is true with any full trip around the sun, any time you look at a calendar and 12 months have passed, but a lot of life and a lot of new experiences marked this year especially as very memorable. I could write forever about this year, I won’t. Instead I wrote two rambling, run-on paragraphs. That’ll do.
The U.S. Months
I stood atop Angel’s Landing in Zion NP, fought with snow at the Grand Canyon, drove through Death Valley, stopped at a slammin’ taco truck in Santa Cruz, ran along the mountains in Big Sur, spent New Years in the Bay Area visiting friends, climbed abandoned railway bridges and Mt. Elinor in the Olympics, ran in Forest Park in Portland for the first time, kayaked with my dad in the Long Tom Watershed, finished top ten in two ultramarathons, got my first poems published in literary journals, defended my masters degree and conflict resolution graduate certificate, performed spoken word at my sister’s senior year dance performance, said goodbye to my home of seven years (Missoula), climbed Cha-pa-qn Peak and visited Gold Bug hot springs for the first time, helped organize the Columbia Basin Transboundary Youth Network, finished co-directing the UM Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology, cut off my long hair, finally read Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov (end of grad school reward to self), started eating meat again, applied to the Peace Corps and left for the Philippines six months later.
The Philippines Months
I ate balut (fertilized eggs), made a community garden with a youth group, started getting to know my first ukulele, assessed mangroves and seagrass beds in the field with fisherfolk, swam 40 minutes to an island while battling rain, waves, and jelly fish, spent extended time with two host families in different parts of the Philippines, studied two different languages (Tagalog and Cebuano/Bisaya), danced the kuracha in front of my barangay, swam in bioluminescence for the first time, started playing basketball again, won a fun run and donated the winnings to the Red Cross, joined the province’s ultimate frisbee team and played in my first tournament (Go Biliran Ambush!), helped form fishery councils in most of our coastal barangays, made french toast in a wok, sang Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie during videoke, snorkeled with sea turtles in one of the top rated reefs in the world, witnessed millions of fish swim in one mass during a sardine run, watched dolphins jump next the boat, made I-don’t-know how many new friends through my Peace Corps family AND through my community in Biliran.
It’s been a year of a lot of new things, with many awkward and self-conscious moments. It’s also been a year of saying goodbye and letting go of things, with a lot of difficult moments. I don’t give myself a lot of slack, but I do think self-examination is an invaluable part of any growing process. I’ve thought about a few things that I’d like to bear (pun?) in mind over the next year (I’m borrowing this idea from a friend). There are no negatives, no “don’ts” and no “no’s”. Just “more” and “keep” because I’d like to move in positive directions, not dwell on negatives. I remember someone telling me that if you think to yourself “don’t miss, don’t miss” you are thinking about missing. So, think in positives, right?
- keep writing poetry
- keep running
- keep trying to collaborate with fisherfolk
- keep writing letters to friends
- keep believing in the PC mission
- keep confronting fears
- more language study
- more ultimate frisbee
- more ukulele
- more cooking
- more smiling
I’d be surprised if anyone made it through all that (thanks Bill and Debra), but at least some of the photos are nice.