Processing Panama…still

These couple weeks back were initially too busy with work to let me breathe, let alone really think about the lasting effects Panama will have on my life. For some reason, maybe because I’m finally wrapping up and have time to ponder, Panama has been on my mind a lot in the past couple days.

I seem to be less patient. Sitting still and being inside is hard. Putting up with other people’s stress and petty drama is even harder. My current way of dealing with this is taking long, aimless walks and seeing if I can get lost. It’s made me question my life here and whether I am really dying to re-assimilate as fast as possible or whether there are some things I’ve learned from our trip that I want to hold on to.

One of these lessons is the dose of reality that Panama gave me. It has made me take a harder look at what I actually want to achieve in my life and possible future career. La MICA taught me that to have an idealistic goal turn into a realistic project and eventual positive change takes every ounce of effort and dedication that you have, and then some. Success doesn’t just naturally happen because of a worthy cause or good intentions. And a lot of things don’t work out.

I’m not necessarily a cynic now, or anything. I think I’ve just received a bit more realism in my life. There is no prescribed path that will take me where I want to go, and I’ll probably wander into many dead ends before finding my ‘calling.’ I think I’m more at peace with this idea now, but I am also expecting more from myself. It is a privilege to have a wide open future with endless options, and I need to be active in the process of finding my way. I can’t expect things to just fall into my lap. I need to seek out things that I care strongly about, and stick with them.

This currently consists of figuring out what the heck “sustainable development” even means in the real world. I like it in theory, but I am so curious to learn about real people’s stories and projects. Does it ever work? How do you measure its success? What is the appropriate role of an outsider in inspiring local change within a community?

Currently reading Kicking off the Bootstraps: Environment, Development and Community Power in Puerto Rico by Déborah Berman Santana. We’ll see she gives me any answers.

Anyway, these are things I’ve been pondering. Thanks Panama 🙂

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