Upon entering a new culture your brain can become filled with many new things. My mind usually spins with different thoughts, and now as I walk with my community and experience life differently my mind seems to never stop processing. I think about the new experiences, sights, smells, textures, relationships, events, outings, sounds, silences, nature, and all the roles that these play within each other. As you can start to sense, continual spinning.
And yet I have noticed space. The first few weeks I did not have a “job” to attend to. I was getting to know the community and area and they were getting to know me to find where I would fit and where some of my skills could be used. I encountered different places and people because I have a lovely host mom who takes me everywhere she goes. She tells me “let’s go” and we go. I usually don’t know any of the details about our trip, but that is not a concern that I should have, I travel in the safety of her hands. Because of this I don’t have to think or worry about future things. If you think about your brain space in three parts, past, present, and future, I have realized that I have a third of my brain space that is not being occupied by chattering thoughts. And I only realize this when encounters happen with people I have met where I remember something that they told me. Usually I have a hard time remembering details about another person’s life; I am busy trying to remember what is going to happen next in my busy, super jam packed filled life. But being here and not having to worry about planning, I have been able to remember birthdays (which I have never been able to remember my friends’ birthdays who I’ve known for years) and different weekend trips that people in my community have gone on, and I can remember enough to even ask them about how it was!
I have space to remember and build and nurture relationships. There are many good things with being busy and involved, but there are also so many good things that come with simplicity. Culturally there is a difference between South Africans and Americans and their ideas of planning. I am starting to like not having many things planned and not having to worry about where I have to be next because there is more space (both time space and mental space) for me to be in the present and with those whom I am surrounded by.