Monday, June 21, 2010


Contemplating Pichincha

With our year in Ecuador coming to an end, I find myself thinking about how this experience has changed me and my family. Our lives here have been so remarkably different from that we knew, that it is difficult to compare 'before' and 'after'.

I have learned that we are adaptable, that we have been challenged and have overcome obstacles and disappointments and roadblocks and prevailed. I am amazed at Maya who was excited about coming here, struggled for months at her new school, but has learned a foreign language and has grown and matured and adjusted. I wonder if it is so difficult to leave because we faced such a bumpy transition.

I learned that even far away in another world, we are who we are (wherever you are there you are) and don't change much. My family tells me that I am so much less stressed here, and there is no doubt that my life is more relaxed, but I still get anxious and angry and happy and sad and find it impossible to give up control entirely. I am still driven and intense and running constantly, no different than I am in my former life.

I found out that my life is not defined by my profession. I thought it was; after 28 years as a psychiatrist, I believed that my identity was centred around being a doctor and taking care of patients, but instead, I learned that my profession was less relevant than I thought. I still am who I am without what I do. I was surprised by that.

I learned that I could live with very limited means. I could wear the same clothes every day for a year, without makeup, without a haircut, and after a while it did not really matter what I looked like, and I still felt exactly the same about who I am.

I knew that I loved to travel and learn about new people and cultures and histories, and this year has been a treasure trove of exposure to unknown worlds. I want to travel and see and learn more than ever now. I am not sure that is necessarily a good thing. It will make it more difficult to return to regular everyday life.

The year has brought my family ever closer, probably because we have faced all sorts of adventures and challenges together. I feel so lucky to have had so much more time with Maya. I have come to know her much better and appreciate who she is in a way I was unable to before. I have become accustomed to spending more time with Eric, which makes it more difficult when he is away; I am not sure that is a good thing.

The bonus has been learning to speak a new language and how to dance the salsa!