A Note About Hope

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Hope reveals itself in mysterious ways.

A final gasp for air, the first drop of rain, the step away from the ledge, the hand that picks up the phone, the improving blood test results, the stern lips that crack to reveal a smile, or as the light creeping through the shades against every self-loathing desire to remain in the dark.

Last week I fell quite sick. Each night I found myself drenched in sweat with the feeling that a pick axe had been delivered to an unreachable point inside my skull. I was already down – so this was the ground breaking away to further my fall and add depth to my despair.

In the same week, a friend’s baby passed away at 7 months, and another found out his dad has cancer and that one of his friends had also recently died in a car crash. News was also given that a close friend of my parents had passed away after being ill.

Today, someone knocked on my door to explain the inhumanities going on in Syria. He was hoping I would donate to the charity he represented. I said I wasn’t in the position to – but I empathised with the fact he was walking door to door in the heat, to which he was quick to state, “it’s not about me.”

Of course not. It’s about all of us. And how as conscious individuals, a community, a country, a chunk of rock floating in space – we hurt, so much and so deeply at times… But we also hope.

Hope is an unwavering desire which becomes the belief that no matter what happens; how much we take or lose, and no matter the odds; we still have something to clench dearly in our hands.. as well as the strength to swing back.

I’m now feeling much better. I know those torn by the tragedies I mentioned will eventually recover in due time. I also know that unfortunately, not everyone makes it; some people lose hope. I know that not all damage can be repaired. But as fractured as our lives become, we do find a way to move on and piece together some new meaning of our existence, and, persistence. In his powerful Ted Talk, Andrew Solomon refers to this process as ‘forging meaning and finding identity’. 

I’ve written about situations I’m close to, but such stories exist all over the world and throughout history. That’s another way Hope reveals itself.

Whatever Hope actually is, I’m glad it exists … and I hope you can find it.

Challenges in Coming Home

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Men dream more about coming home than they do about leaving – The Alchemist

I still remember being in the kitchen with my house mate, casually dicing ingredients of our dinner, when he cut through the silence… rather bluntly.

“You don’t want to go, do you?” He cared not about offending me, certain in the fact that he knew me. A sign of true friendship.

“Of course not,” I replied. Relieved to let out some honesty like the kettle and its steam. I wanted to stay. I didn’t always like what I had, where I was; but I felt safe in the familiar.

After an initial culture shock, Tonga – where I spent 2014 – also became familiar. It was only when I returned home to Australia, that I realised that Tonga, once dreaded and unknown, had also become a place I felt safe.

The year away presented me with so many different experiences: Good times, bad times, better days and worse ones. One thing that kept me going was knowing that I was coming home. So why aren’t things as great as I envisioned?

It’s explained online that some  of the negative experiences of returning home may include:

• Feeling like family and friends don’t understand how you’ve changed and have tired of listening to your stories
• Feeling like you don’t have anything in common with your friends anymore
• Rejection of your own culture, particularly consumerism and affluence
• Constantly comparing practices in Australia with those in your Host Country
• Uncertainty about the future
• Difficulty making decisions
• Feeling misunderstood
• Boredom
• Loss of identity
• Feeling overwhelmed or disorientated

The technical term is “reverse culture shock.”

The most shocking – rather scary – thing to me is how easy it is to fall back into old routines; to be the same old person. Forgetting all those promises I made about changing as the sun would set over the ocean – a shared treasure in Tonga, but a luxury here, reserved for those with water-front homes.

And here I am back in the suburbs, surrounded by things I now know I don’t need, while uncertain about what I need the most. I’m making changes though: no longer going to the gym as much, focusing on development, speaking to a psychologist, spending less time with certain friends, spending more time with my family. So it’s definitely been good to be back – but not as great as I thought it would be.

I guess the truth is that we can’t run – from ourselves or from our responsibilities. Sure, I’ve come back – but with all intentions of going forwards.

 

 

 

 

Month 10 in Tonga

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Rather than tasting the batter, let me first describe how I beat this post out.

  1. I flip open my journal (not to be confused with a diary).
  2. I find the start of the month just past, and read my way to the current day.
  3. I make all sorts of facial expressions and sounds (not to be confused with my coming toilet break).
  4. I experience an array of thoughts flavoured from, “I’ll always remember that” to “f*** that sucked.”
  5. I close the lock on my journal with its matching glittering plastic pink key, snort four crushed up valium tablets and fall asleep to Jamie Oliver’s audio cookbook (not to be confused with a serious statement).

But on a serious note, the process can either be hectic, easy, or a well-suited challenge. But I still do it, regardless. I do it because, to understand the world, you have to first understand the filter which you perceive it through: yourself. I do it because, when all I see is pieces, writing helps me put the puzzle together – to form and gain clarity on the bigger picture – which is my life.

As Hemingway said, “Writing is a lonely existence.” So as much as I would like company, it’s not expected. But when I come back to this page in a few months, finding another set of fingerprints in the digital dust, and maybe a kindly left comment, certainly wouldn’t deter me from the habit.

So, let’s get into the month, starting with the little things.

I rode close to 50km on a trip (a lot for me). I volunteered at Tonga’s only international school, answering the many questions eight-year-olds have. I organised a fashion show for my institute’s students at a popular local bar. And I also joined another fashion committee which is hosting an upcoming show. I’m not particularly a ‘fashion’ person, but I’ve enjoyed the insight into their challenge of introducing contemporary clothes into traditionally conservative culture. To illustrate, one of the girls had her family say that they felt ashamed after seeing a photo of her posing in a bikini on a beach.

I had an experience of freakish serendipity. I went to the local flea market and just happened to find the exact book I was looking to download a few days ago; a book of famous poems, which I also wanted; and a jumper of a favourite band, where I only needed something to keep me warm in my upcoming trip to New Zealand.

I got a few postcards from home and had a great Skype call with someone I hadn’t seen in over 1 year. Someone who I only met in person once before I left for Tonga. Someone who I only met because of this blog. It was great to hear about his travels to Asia and tell him about my journey so far. Both experiences reminding me of the value and importance of longstanding relationships as well as like-minded company.

Now, the bigger things.

I had an early farewell at the technical institute where I volunteer, crying more than they did. I’m not sure why. Possibly from a volatile mixture of emotions, from missing people back home, the anxiety of returning, to my own doubt in my effectiveness of being here. So when a particular teacher said that I’ve made a “dream come true” for them by organising their cruise ship tours, it was enough to catch my manly mannerisms off guard, and to tip the ‘tea’rs that I knew were filling, but I was trying not to spill.

The farewell also helped me accept that I won’t have the same kind of impact as some of the other volunteers, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that I’ve had an impact.

Now, the biggest thing.

I finally completed by first video project! After standing at the cliff for a while, eyes shut, using my imagination to visualise the possibility of what I could create – I dove… well, I was pushed. Attending a recent community film festival where new video makers were showing   their creations, was the push I needed. It’s true what they say about inspiration: it’s contagious.

There’s also a truth about the creative process: its possessive. In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield explores the Ancient Greek myth of The Muses. In summary, there were nine daughters of Zeus who each governed a specific creative art form. And when a mortal set out to create something in one of these forms, he would be guided and inspired by its Muse. Truth aside,  I think it’s beautiful. It also reflects my experience of writing my ebook so I was glad to be under a kind of ‘creative spell’ once again.

“The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.” – Steven Pressfield

Once I just started my video project – even without a set plan – everything just fell into place. Editing and filming over 3 days, I couldn’t slow down nor stop until I had finished it. And finished it I did.

Like the short films I had watched at the festival I attended, my goal was to capture and share a certain unseen side of Tonga. I also chose a subject that really resonated with me personally – and I did it in a way that reflected my personality. The feedback has been great: many current volunteers have used it to show their friends and families back home what Tonga is like; the soon to arrive volunteers have been thankful for a chance to see what their new home is going to be like; and other people around the world now know about this tiny island they never knew exited. My favourite remark however, was, “I can’t help but smiling the whole way through it.” As such was my goal..

“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.” – Steven Pressfield

Then came the worst thing: man down.

Out of nowhere, my enthusiasm’s gone – like someone tripped on the cord, pulling it out and taking all my energy with it. Everything’s a drag, I even consider deleting this blog. I won’t elaborate like I did in this post – but this particular time, it was bad enough for me to seriously consider how these seasonal states effect the quality of my life, what triggers them, and most importantly, what I’m going to do about them when I return home.

“You loathe yourself, and yet you’re consumed by grandiose ideas you have about your own importance. You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is a place where you’ll get any work done.” – Cheryl Strayed

I guess, there is a lot on my mind. There are a lot of forks in the road, and the uncertainty is as threatening as a knife.  But to quote Strayed again, “Self-pity is a dead-end road.” So here is something more optimistic out of my own mouth..

“Life may not be a piece of cake, but you’ve still got to bare your teeth and take a bite.”

So I’m going to spend my last 2 months here chewing: doing what I have to do. There are also still many experiences to taste: people to meet, things to learn, sights to snorkel, coconuts to drink.

– Boy out.

PS – Neat song

Up High & Down Low: Bridge Life

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I almost killed a child.

Sorry, I’lll elaborate. I almost killed off my online persona, ‘Boy’, and deleted my blog.

I foolishly thought that closing this outlet would rid myself of the strange impulses, feelings, and thoughts I have. Wrong. It would just keep them trapped in the last place I want them to be: inside me.

It was in this latest ‘episode’ of mine, that the realisation finally hit me. This isn’t normal. I’m not normal.

A few days ago, I was loving the sight of the moon on a sunny day, I was feeling accomplished and fulfilled following the completion of the latest project, and things were good.

Today, I spent the last 6hrs looking at my bedroom wall – worrying about things already done, and thinking about the things I should be doing – but desperately scraping every thought to find the actual energy or motivation to act. Considering I had spent the last few days happily working non-stop while even forgoing eating, I know this melancholy feeling is arising from a place more primal than that of my stomach… perhaps my soul?

I also know that next week, I’ll be grinning and going again.

This is how life is at the Bridge.

It’s not just a physical place I visit, it’s a metaphor for how I seem to live my life, from two drastically changing perspectives: on top of things, or under them; up high or down low.

A doctor might say the Bridge is just a bridge, but I on the other hand, am possibly bipolar.

Recently watching Stephen Fry’s documentary, The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, I learned more about bipolar and other various conditions as well as their varying degrees of impact. I’ve never put my put my foot through a window or been a risk to anyone, but I know what it’s like to often feel drained and immobile, with a sense of tunnel vision best described by Van Gogh:

“One feels as if one were lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a deep dark well, utterly helpless”

 

Like the others featured in Fry’s documentary, I also know what it’s like to have sudden surges of energy, creativity, spontaneity, and optimism. I realised this is the reason I’ve resisted seeking help or medication; I don’t want to lose this part of my personality.

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. Don’t lose it.” -Robin Williams

 

Since his passing, the above quote by Robin Williams now sadly makes another point: there is more to lose that just one’s spark, there’s more important things at stake. For me, it’s not my life, but it’s the experiences of living: the things outside of one’s room; the things above the rut you’re in; the things behind the clouds that are following you; the conversations I’m too anxious to have with people.

So what am I going to do?

Fry puts this hypothetical question forward to a few of his interview subjects: if there was a button that they could press to instantly remove the lows, taking all the highs with it – would they press it? Fry’s own answer can be summed up in his Memoir, Moab is My Washpot: 

“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

I know this still doesn’t clarify what I’m going to do. Because I honestly don’t know. But it starts with getting out of bed, making a cup of tea, and sitting in the sunshine.

 

Lessons from Louie

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Louis CK is undoubtedly my favourite comedian.

Given today’s talent, that’s quite an accomplishment, as the size of a crowd trying to get on stage can be just as large as the one that’s in the audience. However, there are still a few ways for an individual comedian stand out from the rest.

Most commonly, it’s through their unique delivery, facial expressions, or the relatable nature of the jokes they make — things related to comedy. But how Louie particularly wins me over is through his honesty, rawness, and bravery.

In his self-titled TV series, “Louie”, he plays himself living his actual personal life as a comedian, single parent, and a decent guy just trying to get by and navigate his way through the franticness of New York. And no matter what’s going on or what he’s going through, he manages to be exceptionally funny through all of it.

This concept has sustained three enjoyable seasons. So it was unexpected to find that the latest fourth season of Louie wasn’t as funny — and even more unexpected when I found it to my favourite season yet.

It was because Louie did something, which for a comedian, is definitely different. He changed his winning formula. He fixed what wasn’t broken; he tried being less funny.

There were several episodes presented with little to no humour. I felt that this approach made the show more serious and confronting at times, but also more demanding of my attention and deliberation because it was easier to relate to Louie. As a result, I became more invested and interested in seeing this particular season through.

As I reached the final episode, I felt that, despite being a comedy, the season was surprisingly deeply moving. There were also a few issues brought up, that I’d definitely consider important, if not, life lessons. So if you’re not a Louie fan, here is what you missed:

1) Sex Doesn’t Mean Seriousness

Louie meets Amia, a Hungarian women who’s temporarily visiting the US. She can’t speak English, but through their own methods of communication — chemistry develops. After a few dates, Louie starts to feel strongly about her, but is convinced by others that his feelings are not valid unless they’re having sex. So they do. Rather than bringing them closer, it only creates more distance and confusion.

This plot reminded me of the first time I had sex without any similar pre-established conditions. Particularly about how naive I was at the time — and disappointed afterwards. I thought it meant far more than she did. Actions don’t always speak louder than words, because there are some words that just have to be said. This is what Louie and Amia eventually do through a translator, and the outcome is far more meaningful.

2) Love is Pain

Once Amia leaves, Louie finds himself depressed. He knew the hurt was inevitable. He knew the company wasn’t going to last, but he still wanted it so badly. Why? I know because I was in a similar position earlier this year. Except, I was the one leaving.

As the date of my departure neared, the girl of my interest became less and less willing to spend time with me. Maybe she knew something that I didn’t — or that I just didn’t want to think about — which was the risk of getting attached and therefore, hurt. In his show, Louie is a lonely guy. In real life, I’m that guy too. So speaking for myself, I know how it feels to just want someone’s company — regardless of the conditions, such as that it’s not for long.

When Louie consults the unwelcoming-but-wise doctor that lives in his apartment block, he gets the following advice: “Love is the pain. It’s when you’re apart from someone, and you’re hurting, that you know how truly deeply you really were in love. You know that what you had was real.” The doctor goes on, “You lucky son of a b****, I haven’t had my heart broken in years.” It’s something to think about. It helped Louie, and there’s certainly times, we can all feel as low or lonely.

3) With Parenting, Less can be More

There is one episode where Louie catches his eldest daughter smoking a joint. When she asks about the “big lecture” she is going to get, the extent of his response is, “Just know that I’m here for you.” Relating to my own experiences as a teenager, feeling constantly confronted and criticised definitely doesn’t help a young person understand the things they need to. But knowing that their parents are someone they can just talk to — does.

4) Responsibility is Important

In a flash-back episode, a younger Louie steals $2000 worth of equipment from his school. A younger me did that same amount worth in damage to my own school during a mindless act of vandalism. Like Louie, I also thought I was safely protected by my age. I learned that once you cross “the line” — you aren’t. Sure, age limits expectations, but more importantly, actions still carry consequences.

Being responsible also isn’t just a matter of being caught; it’s owning what you did. The investigation gets dropped but Louie still chooses to confesses to his teacher. It’s clear that decisions like these helped mold Louie’s main character into the respectable adult that he is. This episode is a reminder that being a good person is part of the process of being committed to becoming a better one as we work through our mistakes.

5) Success isn’t about being Special

When Louie finds himself envious of his friend’s recent success and doubting his own abilities, his girlfriend Pamela offers this advice: “None of you guys are special or magical. Some of you are luckier, and some of you work harder than others. But you’re all just guys.” Things don’t get much more truthful than that.

And that’s it.

TV shows make for great escapism and entertainment, but Louie proves that even through a comedy based on another person’s experiences, you can learn things too: about life, and about yourself. Even if you’re not a Louis CK fan, I hope this post encourages you to at least think about what you’re getting out of your favourite show (not to devalue the broadsword training Game of Thrones provides).

True Tourists

There’s many differences between living in a country – and visiting. Between the responsibility of being a host – and the privilege of being a guest.

Somewhere during the past 9 months while I’ve been in Tonga, I crossed the line.

A line, not drawn out in the sand. A line, not specified by small print. Just a feeling that I’m closer to the community that I’m surrounded by, and less of an “outsider.” A change in position is a change in perception; I now notice others more evidently where I once saw myself: as a new person – in a new country.

I know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Not in the same way that someone in Tonga knows what it’s like to be in mine – because he or she is wearing them! It’s because, out of a nature that is more caring than criminal, I always try to be welcoming towards new faces.

Some of these new faces are tourists. Sure, I’ve encountered some that conform to the negative stereotype of being obnoxious and overly demanding. But I’ve also discovered that while a group of people can share a common destination, their individual motives for being there and their interpretations of their surroundings can be in fact, polar opposites.  This is why I’ve coined the term “true-rists” to describe and rightfully distinguish the types of people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through the tours I’ve organised at the school where I volunteer.

With countless other heavily promoted alternatives available, and less than a whole day to spend in the country; they trusted their time and money would be best spent with the students of a local school. Students, who weren’t interested in their visitors’ wallets being open – only their minds and hearts, so they could share their stories and home, but feel appreciated and comfortable in doing so.

And that’s what happened. The “true-rists” were so grateful of every gesture of hospitality, no matter how small. Understanding that any expectations from the western world have to be left at door (or on the boat they got off). And of greater value than money – they offered genuine interest, generous comments, and constructive feedback to the students – which is invaluable to their development.

The tours gave the “true-rists” and the school’s students a chance to learn more about one another: Why they are both here today and where they come from. In my own travels, I’ve learned that’s what makes a country unique and travelling worthwhile – people.

Even interested in me – the outsider distanced by his skin tone and accent – they praised me for my efforts and for facilitating the day’s activities. Nearing the end of my volunteer assignment, I really appreciated the assurance. The gentleman pictured also gave me a kind reminder that I should “look in the mirror every morning and remember that I deserve to be successful and happy.”

Well, I know in the future, in someway, I’ll at least be thinking about Tonga everyday. And I honestly believe these wonderful people now have a reason to do the same. The people of Tonga have been good to me, so I hope the future only brings them more visitors who know how to be as equally kind and appreciative in return.

Meditation. My thoughts.

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It’s like house keeping. Best done daily so things don’t get too messy.

I start by following my breath. Closing my eyes to focus more on the internal environment. Then I let go. I fall. But without the fear…

I reach out for the textures of my fears and anxieties. I can’t find or feel them in this way because they aren’t real.

But I hear a sound. The beating of my heart is more than a reminder of its existence. It says something about my existence. That I’m human, which means I can love. It also means I am loved, because I’m already a miracle. One of such complexity could not be created without the care and appreciation that is love.

I am miracle. I deserve to be here. I whisper it into the breeze hoping it’s caught by the loved ones crossing my mind. I can take comfort in that fact, or contemplate out how miraculous the life I’m in, can be.

This is where illusions are replaced by visions. Illusions are clouds of fear. Visions sparkle with clarity. Made of the same elements of dreams.

This is when the deepest parts of me gets the chance to speak. The voice echoing up to my awareness. These parts are not the biology that make our hearts beat, rather the spirituality we call upon when our biology may fail us.

These instructions are read now, but felt when carried out. As essentially you’re blind, but somehow travel great distances. Even fly. You start by falling, then you’re light enough to elevate..to escape.

Just make sure to return. It’s now time to clean up your life.

 

 

Peanut Boy

 

Peanut Boy

It was alongside a footpath in town that I met peanut boy.  Where I was playing sports or watching cartoons at his age, still in his school uniform, he had a job selling the legumes which have warranted his nickname I’m using in this post.

As the only english he seemed to know was “peanuts” and “three dollars”, I wasn’t able to get his actual name. What I did get was the impression that he didn’t actually comprehend why his parents were eager to see the peanuts in his box replaced with  paper and silver pieces,  or why it was even his responsibility having already spent a day at school. As a child no longer than 7, I can only imagine he knew to do as he was told, especially if it earned him an applause or additional affection.

I however,understood his parents motives. The practice of consumer psychology isn’t just pervasive in the multimedia channels of the developed world, it’s also found on the streets in areas that advertisers don’t even bother to reach.  People selling from offices or the streets alike, know that the greater the sense of sympathy you can evoke in someone, the more likely it is that they will act accordingly in your favour.

Peanut boy was just like babies and puppies that I remember street beggars in Thailand would hold up to my attention as I passed. He was an instrument.

As  I withdrew $900 of cash from the ATM, I lied that I had no money but will next time, for what I believed to be his own good. I hope he understood that giving him the money that he wanted, would only ensure he would be back there again the next day, and the next, something I know he didn’t want.

That weekend, while in the supermarket queue, I noticed a sale on oreos,  and I thought that would definitely be something he personally would want. As I left the store wondering when I would next be in the area after school, I heard some footsteps following me, and there he was.

I didn’t even get a thank you, and he didn’t get they money he expected. We went our separate ways, but  shared an understanding that, what you want, isn’t always what you need.

 

 

2 months

 

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Its been 2 months since I’ve had a can of tuna. Perhaps the triviality of this detail is worth reconsideration after I assert that had I still been at home, I would have consumed no less than 120 tins over the same period. With hopefully less ‘ass’,  I can assure everyone, the dolphins and sea cucumbers aren’t the only ones benefiting from my departure.

I’ve changed. Growing up? Well, I’ve just let pictures of myself half clothed and covered in ice cream, loose on the internet. I’m not expecting to go Kim Kardasian viral, but rather like her chances of being elected the president of the National Girls Scouts Association, I just know I’m not getting them back (that’s  a lot of ass in that sentence).

As evident from the completion of the book that is accompanying the mentioned photos, I’ll just say that I’m definitely ‘growing’. Behind my piece of work that possibly makes no sense, is a newly polished set of skills and abilities that turned a concept into reality. The saying that, “It’s not what you get from reaching your goals, it’s what you become”, suddenly has application in my life. Regardless if it leads where I want it to, I already have reasons to be proud of my accomplishment.

I also got to better understand the concept of the creative process. Artists and authors alike, have described it to be an almost out of body, possessive, and even spiritual process. It may have been the fact that I was forgetting to eat, and refusing myself the right to sleep or take breaks, but while typing through the night, I often felt a slight sense of detachment, as if a witness to what was unfolding. It could have just been sleep deprivation, but at least the mosquitoes joyfully draining my blood can vouch I was definitely to some degree, ‘somewhere else’.

Now, proving that I did in fact leave my room, are some other updates on my experience.

My tropical island fantasy has encountered an altercation with the reality of the ‘rain season’. Add in the noisy neighbours, church bells, roosters, dogs, and the mosquitoes, and it’s easy to make an island out of a molehill. My rescue was a revised mindset, courtesy of the advice that, ” not everything happens to you, somethings just happen”. Definitely true.

Regardless where you go in the world, its remarkably easy to get stuck in the mindset that you are still the centre of it, forgetting it doesn’t revolve around you, it revolves even without you. Sometimes you just gota dealwithit.jpg, through being both proactive, patient and practical as the situation requires.

The piece of foam blocking the gap under my door, labeled in felt pen, “Anti-Cockroach Defence System” isn’t my only accomplishment.  Challenges in lifestyle, culture, and also work, have equally facilitated my development of these characteristics.

Having been introduced to my workplace, colleagues, residence, and social circle, my goal for this month was to fit in and form a routine. Now spraying myself with a combination of insect repellent and deodorant, reading at  wharf, playing jenga with students at lunch, and cake and ice cream catch ups at Lynda’s Cafe on the weekend, are all part of a normal week.

I’m mostly happy I’ve got to integrate with the community more. I’ve joined a youth group, dance group, and even hang out with a group of artists who spend their nights drawing and listening to heavy metal in their clubhouse. They’ve given me the nickname of “Groupie” which is what my last name translates to in Tongan. Given that other volunteers ended up with “Naked” and “Mentally Stupid”,  I’m rather grateful.

Through my integration into the community, the culture shock I originally experienced has started to subside. In addition to the natural process of habituation, as the influence of the west becomes more apparent,  i’m starting to feel more at home. However, with these western ideals and ambitions, the country’s youth are clearly at a crossroads with the directions that the older and more traditional generations are providing.  My conversations with other volunteers who have traveled indicate that it’s a common situation all around the world.

Despite the size and location of their island, far from isolated, Tongans definitely have a keen interest in these situations and the rest of the world. There are even more Tongans living outside of the country than in it! This statistic is open to interpretation, but i’ve arrived at the belief that ‘it is what it is’. I’m also proud to be working in the education sector, helping more people in the country have access to these opportunities. Due to difficulties in finding work in Australia, I sought opportunities outside my home country, so I’m nothing but understanding of anyone who shares a similar mentality.

Speaking of shared mentalities, under the obvious differences in religious beliefs, family dynamics, and social structures, I’ve discovered that as humans, everyone just wants to fit in, be a part of something bigger than themselves, and give and receive love. Sounds simple, but it’s  certainly more complicated where I’m from. Perhaps a conversation for another time.

As for now, I’m off to bed. I’d like to also say thanks for reading. Another discovery I’ve made, is that no matter where you go and who you meet, you can’t replace where you’re from and who you know.

But just saying, if you don’t read my book, you’ll be replaced — > http://eepurl.com/RxP5f

Goodnight