The Year of Presence

Going into 2012, I’ve been thinking about what this fresh set of 12 months will mean.

This is the middle year of my service, if 2011 is the arrival and 2013 the departure. It will be my first, and probably only, 365-day stint without seeing my family or close friends. It’s the year that I just stay.

Since graduating college, each year has had some type of big movement, whether professionally or geographically.

2007– Graduated college and moved to Idaho for my first job.
2008 – Moved back to South Dakota for a different job.
2009 – Started The Post.
2010 – Left my job and The Post for the Peace Corps and went to Niger.
2011 – Was evacuated, went home, re-enrolled and came to Lesotho.

This year, barring a second evacuation, I should remain in the same place at the same job. It will be the only time since leaving my parents house after high school that I will be under the same roof for two consecutive birthdays. In remaining, it will be a year unlike any recent.

I wanted to come up with a theme for the year, like the Year of Persistence, and the only focus that seemed appropriate was presence.

This notion came to me largely in part of my irrational fears of life after Peace Corps. I find myself walking through my village, staring at the while clouds, wondering what will come of me in 24 months. Maybe I go back to school, but for what? Am I done with journalism or will I ever really be able to walk away. These unanswered questions are stressing until I snap back into reality and remember that right now my Peace Corps work is the more important thing and I’ll deal with the questions marks later.

What I need most is to be present and absorb every minute of this incredible, life-changing experience. To do that, I made a list of resolutions that I hope will help me remember to live here and not in the past or future.

Here are a few:

–       Wake up before 6 a.m.
–       Learn names (there are really tricky for my English-tongue)
–       Write at least one sentence of reflection or note of something that occurred in my    journal each day
–       Get out of the house
–       Smile often
–       Stare at the mountains for at least 30 seconds a day
–       Don’t rush home after school
–       Say yes, as long as it is safe and culturally appropriate
–       Listen to Sesotho you can’t understand instead of letting thoughts wonder
–       Floss, wear sunscreen and do other small things for your health
–       Instead of Facebooking people at home, write letters
–       Feel comfortable in silence
–       Shed worry and guilt
–       Remember the best gift is presence
–       Give people a break
–       Give yourself a break

Things will happen this year that will take me out of the present but I will try as hard as I can to be here. Never again will I have the opportunity to live the simple village life, and instead of missing it


6 thoughts on “The Year of Presence

  1. Hi Heather,
    Thank you for sharing this post. I feel the same about this being the year of presence, I’m taking no vacations until December. Let’s see how I survive this:-) I am in Namibia still and will be here until April 2013, so if you have any inkling to visit, I’d love to have you. Sending warm thoughts your way!
    Fuck yeah Zinder!

    • Yaa, it’s really good to hear from you. I hope that you are doing well in Namibia and I would love to visit some day. Good luck with the second year of your service. Team Z forever!

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