My linear ordinary, extraordinary life

time-travel“You can’t redo the most important moments in life, so do them right the first time around.”

About Time is a film about a young English man, Tim, who has the ability to travel backwards in time–an ability that only the men of his family possess. Tim’s father chose to tell him about it on his 21st birthday and discourages him from using his gift for money or fame. So he does exactly what any other guy would use it for instead: to improve his love life. After some time, though, Tim discovers some valuable lessons to teach us about how to live life.

“I don’t get many things right the first time. Now I know that all the wrong turns and stumbles and falls brought me here.”

Having used this unique gift for such a long time, his father eventually shares with him his secret formula for happiness. He tells him, “Live every day again, almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us from noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing.” He lives the exact same day again with a high-spirited air about him, appreciating the positive things in people, the simple beauties in his environment, and remembering to celebrate the smallest of victories in his life.

“I just try to live everyday as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”

We don’t have the pleasure of having a mulligan at the end of a bad day. However, what Tim teaches us is very important, and we can do it in our linear experiences of life.

1) Smile more (even forceful smiling can boost your mood!)
2) Learn to take life a little less seriously
3) Find the hidden humor in simple frustrations
4) Learn to laugh at yourself
5) Celebrate the small victories
6) Take a brief moment to look around you and appreciate the unique beauty of wherever you are

“We’re all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”

Whenever I talk with an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) I am told that I should journal about all the little experiences, see as much as possible and take plenty of pictures, and spend time with people because these two years will fly by. I won’t really know if I did all of these things well enough until my time here is complete and I can analyze in retrospect. Like high school and college, I hope I can look back at my PC service, and ultimately at my life, and remember doing the above ‘Daily To-do List’ and be able to say that I experienced my time to its fullest potential. I hope you can say the same about today, tomorrow, and your life as a whole.
-Jody

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Little Battles Under the Sun

hot sun
The spinach leaf wakes up every morning to the sun crawling through the limbs of the nearby peach trees. The roosters are crowing and the cows are calling out. After the cool morning air passes, the war begins. It’s going to be another hot day under this African sun.
Every passing minute is an attempt to dodge the sun’s blistering bullets. The relief of temporary shelter is desperately sought after—the passing shadows from a tree, or just the right angle from the roof of a building. I would die for a cool breeze to run across the sweating creases of my face. Veins dilate as they threaten to burst through the skin in search for cooler air. Withered neighboring leaves can be seen scorched in the mulch—more battles lost against the sun. A dull drum picks up its cadence as each ray of the sun strikes like a mortar on the cranium and causes a throbbing headache. Despondently, a prayer is sent up to the sky asking for it to split open and pour out its sweet nectar. Or at least some air conditioning. Neither is to be had.
Finally, the spinach leaf opens its arms in warm acceptance of the approaching evening. Refuge can now be taken under the cool night sky.
Until tomorrow.

Spending the holidays home away from home

The holiday season is about spending quality time with family, reflecting on the past year, and looking forward to developing more into who you want to be. This year the holidays were a little different; it was my first holiday season away from my family and friends back home. At times it was hard to think about them and I wished I could be back home to celebrate with them. However, this holiday season will go down as one of the best and most memorable! Most Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) choose to spend their Christmas and New Years with other PCVs in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or lodges around Lesotho. I chose to stay at home and enjoy the holidays with my host family. I don’t like putting that word in front because, to me, it makes the relationships feel less intimate and almost like they are fake. We are a happy and well-mended family unit. Let me introduce a few of my family members to you:

'Me painting this rondavel using water, cow dung and crushed rocks.

‘Me painting this rondavel using water, cow dung and crushed rocks.

‘Me Ma’Mechele is my ‘Me (mother). Names in the Basotho culture typically mean something. My ‘Me is called Ma’Mechele meaning “mother of ‘Mechele” (hence the name she eventually gave to her first-born). She reminds me so much of my own grandmother. If she isn’t working all day at the hospital then she is putting in the hours somewhere around the house. She’s either doing laundry in the scorching sun, out in the field chopping away at weeds with a hoe, or dragging tree branches to the house for fire. She is the hardest working lady I know. I’m telling you, this lady will live to be 100 years old!

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“Once you start with books, it’s hard to stop and do nothing.”

This is my eldest brother, ‘Mechele. He lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has studied Project Management, Management Development, and Political Science. He told me he still wants to further his education and get more degrees. He said he wants to open his own business one day fixing iPads and other electronics, but eventually wants to own his own farm somewhere in the mountains of Lesotho. ‘Mechele is a leader in our family and in the community. He organizes the Easter and Christmas 10k races in our village. He is also very youthful and has a great sense of humor. This makes sense if you meet his two energetic sons, Muso and Tsepho. These two cousins of mine kept the energy levels at a maximum as often as possible with their constant dancing.

My brothers Josh (right) and Lefu (left).

My brothers Lefu (left) and Josh (right).

Josh is the middle brother and he lives in Johannesburg with ‘Mechele. One thing he definitely got from ‘Me is being a hard worker. Talk about being a problem solver. When he sees something not working properly he takes it as his duty to take it to a corner and start working on it. He took the camping chair I was awkwardly sitting in because it was broken and came back a few minutes later after he found some wire in the yard and fixed it. He just doesn’t like for things to be broken. He has an air of confidence and authority about him that makes it understandable why he is so highly admired by everyone. To build on that he is very athletic and outdoorsy. He got 4th place at the 10k race that the whole family participated in the morning after Christmas.

Lefu is the youngest of the three. He lives and works in Qache’s Nek with his beautiful wife and adorable 11-month old daughter, Boitomelo (Boy-too-mello). It is very clear that he is a family man and loves being around people. When he’s not flying little “Boo-Boo” around the room as a plane, he’s probably out dancing with all the kids. He is a great sport and everyone is sure to have a good time as long as he is around.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are; the ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.”

From Christmas morning to New Years night, South African house music was blaring from 7 in the morning untl we finished dancing at 11 at night. I would wake up some mornings asking myself if I could handle another day of it and the answer was always the same: Yes. My grandma always said she loved a house full of people eating and kids running around playing. I must have gotten that from being raised by her. I knew I would miss my family after they all left to go back home. And I do. I can’t wait for the next holiday for my new family to come back!

-Jody