The Great Migration: Where I've been

Friday, June 5, 2009

The End of a Year

I'm usually itching to write. You usually can't shut me up. Yet here I am, at the end of a year, and I find myself floundering. What am I supposed to do, to feel? Should I commemorate? Reflect? Should I feel happy? Sad? Confused? Enlightened? But there is no ¨supposed to¨. There is no should. A year is a bounded unit as real as a country's border, the horizon, the equator. The time that has passed is real, but the marker of start and finish, of before and after, are only as important as I make them. I am not before or after right now. I'm within. And its hard to see outside right now. All I can see is Guatemala, the newness and simplicity of the beginning. I see arriving in Ecuador, meeting my host family, the formalities, the beauty, of study abroad in Guayaquil. I see changing my plans, dumping the easy and expected, and heading to Peru. I see Costa Rica with parents, I see returning to Ecuador without a plan. I see solo life in the big city, and leaving Quito for the sustainable community Rhiannon. I see the time that has passed, the hundreds of people I've met, the ones I remember, the names that slipped out my ear the second I heard them. I see the paths I've walked over every terrain imaginable--sand dunes and swampy jungles and dry forests and rocky beaches and lake shores and frozen glaciers and high sierra tundra. I see the hostals, the language barries, the kissed lips, the absolutely immense amount of food I have consumed. I see epic mountain treks and tredmills at the ritzy city gym. I see bus after bus and stray dogs and drunken debauchery and spiritual enlightenment and feeling sick and just laughing and laughing and laughing.

But in that lies the problem. I see within the year. I see months of the utterly fantastic, of the day to day fucking greatness that has been my life. But I can't see beyond my flight on Wednesday. I can´t take it all in as a complete package. I have no idea how to get closure on what has surely been the most significant year of my life thus far. Yeah, I'm only 21 (as of a week ago), but Hay-sus Cristo, if I have too many years as emotionally and spiritually intense as this year, I might not make it.

What do I do with it? The end of a year? One thing I did, in my silly youth, perhaps, is get a tattoo. How cliche, you may think. How stupid, my mother may think. But I was thinking of a way to encapuslate a year in a simple, unobstrusive image, and this was it. A spiral. A symbol of progress, but not linear progress. Of growth, but not linear growth. I know I am not the person I was a year ago. Correction, I am still me, Hayley Sophie Currier, but I am me amplified. I am me stretched and squished and mushed and poked and pulled through the wringer. I am me plus a year of experiences. Yet I still have some of the same thoughts, problems, insecurities as I did a year ago. I come back to think on these things, with a little more clarity, a little more direction, perhaps, but I keep coming back. I'm growing and learning and improving, but I'm never done. This also reflects my thoughts on Development, as a study, as a practice. It is just constant questions without answers, problems without solutions. There is work to be done, and I can make a difference. My bit, if I am working the best I can, is enough. But, again, it isn't linear. Development, of countries, of people, of knowledge, is a process that wraps around on itself. Further, I have definitely explored my own spirituality this year. A word I didn't like using, a word I couldn't even define, I suddenly understand. I still don't know a hell of a lot, and I like it that way, but what I do understand is that there is an energy in the universe. Call it gravity, call it god, call it weather patterns, but I can feel it. I've connected with people across borders, cultures, and languages--over futbol, over shared experience, over getting lost, over drinks--I've seen seeds grow into dinner, I've felt joy and adrenaline and tension and sadness. This is energy. This is the energy of Pachamama, the Quechua word for Mother Earth. Call me a fruitloop hippie, but this spiral, a symbol of all this, is still engraved in my ankle until I die. The foot (not a freaking snail, thank you) is for travel. It is for the physical traveling I've done this year, and for the emotional travel I've done as well. It's for the knowledge that every step I take leaves an imprint, so it better as hell be a good one. A sidenote cool thing--I drew the image myself and the tattoo guy copied it and traced my lines exactly. So its my hand that is there to remind me of the lessons of this year.

Sorry for my really gross dirty foot.

That's all I've got. I got ink done, I've about 100 places to stay all over the world from my new friends, and at least 100 promised tours to give for friends visiting me. I've got thousands of pictures and the most disgusting ripped up clothing you've ever seen. I have five days left in Ecuador, and a month in Nepal and India with Erin Reeves. And then I have to do something with it. I have to take the year and make it part of my life. I have to remember to make my life what I want it to be. And I need to graduate at some point. Huh.

More pictures from my final weeks at Comuna de Rhiannon, my 21st birthday at the farm, and a couple of weekend trips.


Debbi said...

Ok, my first thought was "I hope your tetanus shot is up to date!" followed by wow... I'm really going to miss your blogs. They have taken me on a journey I will never know and have enjoyed each one. I can't wait to have you back though.

Ryan said...

hayley, i have so enjoyed being a small part of your awesome journey through these blogs. we're so lucky to live your advetnures through you and your words!

looking forward to meeting again in berk berk! i have one idea to add to all you said: there doesn't necessarily need to be some fitting, convenient closure and conclusion to all you've is what it is, and gradually it will weave into the fabric of your life. i think you can revel in all you've done without it having to "be" something :-)

you're awesome`