“I’m the hero of the story, don’t need to be saved”
I have never been someone to endorse regret — guilt is sometimes required — but regret never seemed to serve all that great of a purpose. So, as my time in Kenya is drawing to a close, I regret nothing. I have had (and will probably continue to have) a very different adventure than the one I signed up for, but I realize that is usually the case, it just isn’t usually so dramatic.
I have made the difficult decision to condense my summer and come home a few weeks early because I have grown to believe the people who say that breathing is necessary for life. I have kind of forgotten what it feels like to take deep breaths, and I miss it. This was not an easy conclusion to come to, but one I am strangely at peace with. I guess there’s a reason that it’s the “peace that passes understanding.”
Despite suggestions to the contrary, I feel anything but fragile. Yes, I am very aware of the effort I put into breathing. I am very aware that I am human and have limits, but sometimes the true test of strength is knowing how and when to exit. The picture that accompanies this post is from a hike in Hell’s Gate Gorge and the sign reads “Emergency Exit.” I laughed and took the picture because the exit was not, in any way, an easy way out.
I do not regret that I am leaving early. Regret looks backwards and around and compares and then is stuck. Hope looks forward while standing in the present without losing everything gained from what came before. I cannot compare what would have been if I hadn’t gotten sick — I didn’t get to live out that path. I can say that I made it past the first two weeks without being med evac-ed home and for that I am exceedingly grateful. I have met great coworkers and made new friends. I have developed a deep love for Kenyan sweet potatoes and grilled cheese.
I have also officially gotten over my discomfort with IVs and will even let them be put in my hands. I have made peace with long bus rides and gotten up-to-date on my reggae music. I have grown in patience learning to work at a very different pace and also have learned how to sleep sitting up during my downtime. I have even avoided the intervention that was coming my way from friends and family who wanted to tell me that I have been doing too much and not taking good enough care of myself. (I hope they still make the intervention sign though).
I may not have had control over my health and where I ended up this summer, but I do have the ability to decide which exit to take and neither choice was easy. I have had people tell me that they’re sorry for me or that they felt pity for me this summer, and while that’s kind of them, they don’t need to. I believe we come out of every adventure with something to redeem the hard parts and with gratitude for the joyful parts. Even now when I look back on misadventures of the past, I do not regret them because they brought me here — perhaps with a little bit more character and maybe a few more scars.
I still have the rest of June to explore Kenya, and I also sincerely hope to return here someday. Until then, I am at peace with being here and at peace with the thought of going home. And that in itself is nothing to regret…