Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Coming Home!!

Yes you read it correctly. I am coming home for the holidays (insha allah) “if god wills it” as my lovely Nigeriens would say…..well for pretty much everything.


Well there are many reasons for my change in heart and decision to come home instead of doing something like for example vacationing in Ghana, or some other West African country. Sure a nice vacation on the beaches of some W. African country does have its appeal; actually my plan was to go to the African Cup in Ghana…..but after rationalizing this decision during a very therapeutic mandolin session, the major deciding factor is family. But there were a variety of reasons, so this entry will be related to those reasons.

1st Family and Friends

The decision to join the Peace Corps is never taken lightly it means making some very difficult decisions and living with that decision for two years as life continues to go on in our absence. In our absence our families grow, people we care for pass away, relationships change, who knows, old flames start new lives, even my dog misses me. But as in all cases life doesn’t stop just because we are no longer living with those we know, my dream was to make decisions towards realizing my dreams. As a result it emotionally deflated a lot of things from me; imagine cutting the best thing out of your life and trying to be happy about it. I tried, couldn’t do it, and in the end the decision was the right one, but it took a lot of nights to convince myself that everything would be alright. Dreams are meant to be pursued and it’s either go after them or spend the rest of my life only dreaming.

Don’t think I am homesick. But….

If it wasn’t for the terrific support from my incredible friends then I never could have made it here. I am coming home to pay you in the only respect I can at this moment and that’s to let you see me getting to the top of my game. J Really I love you guys, ah the cast of characters. Damn I love you guys.


Concerning the craziest folks west of the mighty Mississippi, My family.

Your support and love equaled the efforts of such magnanimous friends. Possibly if I was serving a few years prior as a younger man then I most likely would not be coming home. My youthful vigor and determination keep on wandering would be to difficult to avoid. My choice would have been Ghana, or who knows tumbuktu? (really its an option) . But similar to my experience in the great land of Mexico where the most common theme is nothing but family, family, family you finally have to say. Ok I get it. Yes Family. So amplify that exponentially by something in the ball park of….hhhmmm I don’t know a billion, and you see what family means here in Niger. After all these years of wandering and not doing the most important things such as visiting the grandma’s as much as I would have liked, it appears to be the time.

Prior to coming here I caught a lot of flak from individuals concerned about my decision to move to Africa, although very sharp criticisms hailed from all corners of argument, it was for good reasons. Since my departure a lot of the criticism has morphed into encouragement and support due to their fears waning and a better sense of understanding surfacing about the world. Many of us are introduced to the world as a perilous maze of tiger traps, and evil lurking at every corner. The reality is that there is a lot of bad in the world, but on the whole our world is quite beautiful and its filled with amazing people, and it just wouldn’t be right if some of us didn’t brave the elements and face the challenges. So now it seems appropriate to bring home some of my journey to know that your love for your volunteer is not misguided. In fact my decision to come here is largely your fault. Really.

You never realize how much you reflect the best of what the people instill in you until one day something clicks and you understand that all the things you love in life is because someone spent time with you during your childhood doing things like reading, telling bed time stories, teaching, gardening, horseback riding, fishing, riding bikes etc. etc. These are only a few examples but damn if they weren’t elemental in my preparation for this place and I think its past time to come home and pay homage to the incredible people who impacted my development so much.

So I am coming home to my family and you all each have some really BIG hugs coming your way.

Honestly I am not really home sick but its just important for me to come home eat some mashed potatoes, friend chicken, corn and gravy, I have lost I don’t know a 1/3 of my body weight. FEED ME!!!!!!!

Anyways take my advice, though it’s painful to roam away from everything familiar; if you want to live fully and understand the world and yourself better. Leave everything you know behind, live fully, love wastefully, and strive towards what you most intimately want. Its tough, but in the end we always come home.

2nd Music

Now I am not going get to much in detail about the story about how I came to playing the mandolin because its going to be a blog entry soon, but its something very important to me. Ultimately it was the primary catalyst that finalized my decision to come home, I don’t know how to describe it, but something about the mandolin has really started a fire within me and I like to share it with others. Learning to play the mandolin has been a life altering experience and I kept a lot of good people awake at night playing bad music. So I am coming home to keep these people up once again but this time the music is louder and hopefully much better.

Anyone up for another reunion show at my house….How about a Dan Saga Benefit concert? ;P

Without the commitment to make the journey to realize your dreams there is no destination, take the journey.

3rd Future Plans

Hot season is brutal. Other than spending my time sweating, the only thing I was capable of doing while panting in fierce convulsions like a dog was to look at my world atlas and daydream. What emerged was a potential trip spanning from Greece to Norway by speaking at development agencies, universities, etc or just play the mandolin on the street for change, who knows. Its an avenue to keep wandering so once again my passion for geography is forming another potential epic journey. Well that’s the current plan, as has been suggested I’ll have a 100 plans fail to commit to most of them but make at least one really good one.

135 Fahrenheit is brutal I had to put my mind in cooler climates something about daydreaming about the cold frosty waters of Norwegian fjords or the sands of Greece really seemed to make hot season tolerable. So time will be spent researching the potentialities to this trip or I don’t know East Africa, it really is a dangerous thing to give me a little money and time before moving onto my next journey. But camping out in the mountains for a couple of months doesn’t sound to bad either.

The other side of the fun is that I need to tend to business, fortunately in my line of life work and life work pretty congruously so having plenty of time to think I have reduced my post Peace Corps to three options

1. Teach, I love it. Always planned on doing it, but I feared becoming someone responsible for teaching others about the world but never seeing it for myself. So I have failed miserably convincing my family that all my traveling excursions were purely for professional and personal development, but you have to admit, it hasn’t hurt anything has it. Tax deductible business expense?

June, July, August. The real reasons to teach.

2. International Development. Studying in Holland immediately after my post military debacle was really needed to discover my interest, as it turns out I kind of had a knack for this line of work. So here I am swinging from one vine of opportunity in mid-reach for the next vine. Me tarzan, you give me job.

Hey I am just trying to figure out what’s next?

3. Academics. Very appealing. For those who know me best it is probably the biggest surprise since I have always hated school but loved learning. Its one thing to be forced to sit in a class and learn what someone wants me to learn, but when I get to dictate what I want to learn and get paid for it…FORGETTABOUTIT!!! I’m in. But there’s a snag. Test. I hate freaking test!!! My last semester in college I started vomiting from nervousness during a math exam, kind of freak’d out the professor and I bombed the test anyways. Which means the GRE will probably suggest being admitted into a psych’ward afterwards. Its partially the reason why I chose Peace Corps over graduate school, I have enough things on my resume’ to suggest being capable. But test aaargh!!!

Okay well that’s about all I have the energy to put into a few of the many reasons to come home. I can’t believe my trip will be in only 3 ½ months. Can you believe January will mark my one year anniversary of living in Niger!!!!

I can’t believe how fast time has flown here.

Well guys there are a million other reasons I could go into why I am visiting home but you all get the gist of it. So be ready, have the instruments tuned, the conversation ready for full engagement, and the stock of quality pale ale’s piled high.

Lastly it has reached my attention that there are a lot of people following my adventures and it inspires me to hear how much support has been given from home. Life in Niger is rewarding but damn its demanding. Currently I feel inadequately prepared to really digest the breadth of my experiences so coming home and speaking with people about it helps both me and those interested. If there are interests for me to come to speak with schools, social groups, churches, whatever I am more than happy to. While you all are working I need something to do, plus I am incapable of passing up an opportunity to have conversations about things that matter in this world. So I implore you, take advantage of me. My services are cheap. Lunch and engaging conversations are my only fees.

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