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Life in the slow lane

August 1, 2011

It occurred to me this morning that I had not written in my blog in nearly a week. For a change junkie like me, a week of having little to write about is not a positive thing.

I have to admit, yes, I am a change junkie to some extent. Perhaps it started with moving around when I was very young, I got used to new faces, new places, and new experiences, so after a while, I started to seek out changes.

In many ways, this is a positive attribute to have. After all, human beings are, by nature, resistant to change. I know people who live in the same town in which they were born and grew up – they have never been outside that town, and have no desire to go anywhere. I know others who live in the same metro area or the same state in which they were born and raised. I know someone who feels like he could have gone further in his career if he had been willing to move his family, but he wasn’t.

Not me. I have always sought out new challenges. For me, embracing change has meant many new experiences – again from all of the moves when I was a child to the decision to move many, many miles from home and work in a developing country. It has meant employment where being a “change agent” was part of my job (this was not always a popular thing to be, but I liked to see the results of my work).

However, when things slow down, well, that is when it becomes a challenging personality trait to have. I have to remind myself that part of change is the period of catching up, which means a period of slowing down.

Summer in Ukraine is slow to some extent. Schools are out, so in cities where there are many universities (like mine), the students are gone, back to their village or other town/city. People go on vacation, for two weeks to a month – mainly to the beach, though as mentioned in another post, some also visit relatives at dachas. Business seems to slow down too. It is more difficult to get in touch with people to start new projects, or to continue a prior conversation. For an American, who still remembers how productive she used to be, no matter what the season, sometimes the reminder that I cannot get as much done here is a difficult pill to swallow.

This is especially true of new volunteers. For those of us who have been here a year, we have become adjusted to how things work, and have made schedule adjustments because of it. For the new volunteers though, who are at the settling-in and trying to adjust point, it is frustrating. While each new experience is wonderful, they are more spread out, people feel as if they cannot communicate (well, I still feel like a child quite often with my communication ability, though I am told it is improving), and they want to get working, but feel as if they have all kinds of things blocking their path.

I feel for them. In some ways, that does not change. Overall, though, I find that I have learned to live in the moment. I’ve mentioned this before. Of course, I have not fully given up my plan for the future ways, as a former boss can attest. His words today were “Take some advice from an old man. The future will come no matter what you do. What’s important is to experience things and not worry so much about what happens next.” Okay, I put quote marks in it though a few of his words may have been different, so I hope he forgives me for it. But it is good advice anyway.

But tomorrow brings another new experience – a new place, a new opportunity, a new challenge. That’s how I like it. So I will continue to embrace change and see where it takes me next. And when the slow times come, well, there is always the opportunity to catch up on studying the language!

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