This is part 2. Click HERE to read part 1. As I mentioned at the start of the last blog, if you haven’t done so already and would like to support Coaches Across Continents and the work they are doing please CLICK HERE. If you donate you will become instantly smarter, better looking, and have great luck through the end of the year. Maybe even well into 2011. Also make sure to send your questions for my final blog – the November Mailblog (due out in a week or so). I can be reached by email (email@example.com), Facebook, or on the http://www.getjealous.com/suskiewicz comments page. Thanks for all your past support this year and let’s get on to the blog!
I have spent the last six months in Africa. I have been to five countries (South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia) and I am heading tomorrow to Mozambique for some surfing, some relaxing on the beach, and some good food and drink. And I still cannot tell you definitively why I decided to volunteer with Coaches Across Continents. But here are my best guesses.
1. I love traveling.
2. Life has more meaning when you devote yourself to improving others.
3. I wanted to see the World Cup.
4. It makes for one great story!
5. Maybe I can put off getting a real job and avoid the typical American life for another year.
Maybe a better question for me is what have I learned and what does it all mean?
Well, I have learned a lot. Or at the very least I have solidified some of my thinking towards the world.
1. Laughter and happiness are paramount in life. If you aren’t happy, change things! I have seen people with almost nothing be some of the most happy and upbeat people I have ever seen. I have also seen the same circumstances cause some people to succumb to their surroundings and take to alcohol, prostitution, and worse. It is true that money does not buy happiness; rather all it does is make your creature comforts and daily living situation easier. For true happiness you need to surround yourself with a few things. You need to have a great support group of family/friends/community. You need to have a purpose in life. You need to work hard towards that purpose/goal to feel like you have achieved something. If you can manage these three things then I believe you will be happy, regardless of your monetary situation.
2. Soccer (and music) are universal languages that are globally accepted and unite people who do not share a common language or culture. Without being able to speak fluently in Chichewa, Nyanja, Tonga, Swahili, or Zulu I still managed to connect with kids and adults alike through the game of soccer. I was also able to bond with supporters of various teams at the World Cup. I think the easiest way for the people of the world to get along would be to drop thousands of soccer balls with tiny parachutes into conflict areas. Just maybe that would work and we could avoid the major issues and disagreements of today.
3. All children have good hearts and want nothing more than to play games. Nothing brought me greater happiness than seeing a jubilant and gleeful child sprinting up to me without a care in the world (ignoring their own hunger, poverty, lack of clothes, etc.) just because I was there to see them and I had brought a soccer ball. Those kids chased that ball for hours, organized scrimmages, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately as they get older they begin to think of other things and that feeling of pure joy seems to get lost somewhere along the way. We need to find a way to keep that pure joy in our own lives for as long as possible.
4. We all smile and laugh in the same language. Different gestures mean different things to different people. Customs, languages, and manners are all varied from town to town and country to country. But smiling and laughter are universal.
When I look back at the time it seems like I have memories for every single day of the trip. When I worked at a “real job” the mundane tasks of the everyday seemed to take over. But when I am traveling, meeting new people, and having adventures on a daily basis it means I have memories that can fill a lifetime. I hope that I can continue to adhere to my equation of happiness from above which is to surround myself with good family/friends, live life with a purpose, and achieve my goals. I hope that I can continue to have these adventures throughout my life, and I hope that each of you find what it is that makes you happy and you are able to pursue it with reckless abandonment. This brings me to a comment that was made to me recently by a friend. He said, “That sounds like the trip of a lifetime!” And my answer to him was simple. “I hope not. I want to have many more adventures like this!”
A final thought from an article I saw in the in-flight magazine going from Lusaka to Johannesburg today:
“Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality.”
Send me your Questions today for my final Q&A mailblog! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!