It’s been too quiet in my life for the past few weeks. Way too quiet. I have a couple of theories as to why that may be.
Theory A is based on the fact that I haven’t been anywhere really good for the past 2 months. Every single month this year, up to August, I travelled to some place totally new and fairly mind-blowing. In January, I went on an 8-day prayer walk up and down Mount Kilimanjaro, the most mind-blowing experience of all to start off the new year. In February, I was adjusting to life in Banda Aceh. In March, I went to boring Pulau Weh then fun Penang. In April, I was blissing out on salads and nature in Bali with A. In May, I was watching the sun rise behind my first ever smoking volcano from an 800-year old temple in Jogja. In June, I was struggling to climb that wretched Mount Rinjani in Lombok and watching the volcano belch smoke. In July, I was loving on Singapore and angsting over Cambodia. In August, I was riding elephants in Laos, pretty mind-blowing too. And then again in August, I was visiting an island in the middle of another island and watching another smoking volcano in Sumatra.
Then came September and understaffing and no days off for that month. If not for the Batak wedding, September would have been a total dud. In early October I met my first ambassador (yay-yuh!), then I got myself together and went to Bandung. To be honest, Bandung was nice and I’m glad I went but it wasn’t very impactful compared to all that went before it. And I have 1 more trip planned for my remaining October days off, but it’s not to somewhere particularly interesting or different from all that I’ve already seen and done here.
So in reflecting on theory A, I find that so much of what I’ve been learning about life and people and even about God comes as I travel and observe and experience new things. And I have done none of that for 2 months now, not really.
Theory B is my hypothesis that this might be the calm before a storm. You know like when a hurricane is near and everything gets quiet and really still just before the storm starts raging? I’m wondering if that’s what this is. I don’t know the nature of the storm that may be coming or where it will originate from exactly, but sometimes it feels like something is brewing. I mean, think about it. In February, it was Acehnese immigration. In March, it was more of them. In April, it was that under-the-bus chick. In May, it was the idiot “boss”, rats and roaches (coincidence that he’s grouped with disease-ridden pests? Hmm.). In June, it was me feeling an inch tall and more roaches. In July, it was the Big Boss and her special brand of crazy. In August, it was overwork. And in September, it was these lazy kids and my spiral of shame. October has been really quiet.
So in reflecting on theory B, I find that a lot of what I’ve learned about myself, and a lot of the refining that God is doing on me, comes when these challenges arise.
When I started thinking about these 2 theories, I thought they were both bad things. For theory A, September and October were travel duds, and although I enjoyed my train ride to and from Bandung, I really didn’t learn anything new, and there are no new and exciting trips in my immediate future. Meanwhile, for theory B, I know that I learn through challenges but I’m not exactly looking forward to the next one, be it a battle with someone else or a battle with myself. I’m not dreading it but I’m not anticipating it either.
But once I started writing this post, I realised that whichever theory is at work, or even if both of them are at work, this is a good thing.
If it’s theory A, I’m having to learn to be happy where I am, when no immediate escape from my circumstances through travel to some new, interesting place is in sight. I have to learn how to really live in this moment and not just in anticipation of my next trip. I have to remember how to entertain myself outside of sightseeing or natural wonders. And I have to learn again to open my eyes, get out of my head and observe the people and situations around me that God may be trying to use to teach me something.
If it’s theory B, then I’m grateful for the respite from “if it’s not one thing, it’s another.” I can take a deep breath and appreciate the time that I now have to gear up for whatever challenges are ahead of me, no matter where they will come from.
So I guess maybe it’s not too quiet after all, maybe it’s just the right amount of quiet. But to be perfectly honest, I hope it doesn’t last long. Either way.