Living at the Deep Griha City of Child and working at the Academy, I’ve pretty much lost control of my life. I get e-mail on my phone, and facebook for about 5 minutes on the road to school everyday, but otherwise I have no connection to the outside world during the week. To get to school, I take the schoolbus, so I leave and return on that schedule. The aunties at the boys home decide what and when I will eat, ringing the dinner bell and packing my lunch box. Everyday, the kids on the schoolbus commandeer my attention: Miss, colors! Miss, fruits! I’ve decided it’s easier to let them quiz my Marathi vocab than to try to ignore them. I have very little control over the details of my life, so I’m doing my best to just let go of my need to control it. This makes me feel like this:
In the past, this would have been unbearable to me. If I had shown up in Indonesia or Madagascar and told that these were the terms of my stay there, I would not have put up with it. But for two months here, it seems okay. Having the mindset that this is all temporary makes it totally bearable, even novel and fun. Of course, my stays in Indonesia and Madagascar were also temporary – two months or two years, in terms of a lifetime, are not all that different. Something I’ve been realizing recently is that everything is temporary. This is nothing that wise people before me haven’t acknowledged (this too shall pass; the cycle of birth and death; valar morghulis), but it’s new to me.
It was such a treat, for example, to come to Indonesia for just one month. The many daily inconveniences that often drove me off the edge last year were much easier in small doses. I was friendly to the kids shouting “Hello Mister,” patient at airline baggage claim, and okay with eating rice 2-3 times a day. The temporariness of my stay helped me enjoy the time in Indonesia much more.
The loneliness and boredom that came with living at home for 6 months without a job… the frustration of spending hours constructing giant snowglobes that would last only 6 weeks at Christmisc… in fact, the futility of putting up any Christmas decorations at all, just to take them down weeks later… the whole world seems to be conspiring to teach me this lesson, that everything is temporary.
And now at home, someone I love is dying – my step-father’s mother. My mom has only been remarried for 9 years, so I didn’t grow up knowing her, but I came to admire and adore her and call her Grammy. She had been a teacher for many years and always asked about my students and classes. She was so excited to hear that I was planning on getting a PhD in education. In the last few months, when she was in the nursing home, I went and sat with her, transfixed by her stories. Unlike my Nana Bets, Grammy’s mind had remained sharp, and I loved hearing about her kids when they were young, about our church 50 years ago, and about how she had gotten sick of bridge luncheons and decided to go back to working as a teacher. She’s been declining the past few years, and has been sick and uncomfortable as she neared the end, but she was still kind, caring, and sweet. Though our relationship was short, I’ll still cherish getting to know her. Not quite everything is temporary – death is very, very permanent, and I wish it weren’t time for Grammy to go. But she, along with the rest of the world, it seems, are helping me to see that even if life and the turns it take may be temporary, we can still enjoy it, we can still be loving towards each other, we can still build meaningful relationships. In fact, if we do, life becomes a little less temporary. I’ll carry my memories of Grammy the rest of my life. Maybe those kids on the schoolbus (Miss, Animals!) will do the same for me.