I believe in many things.
I believe in grey areas. I believe in looking at the world from both sides of the gun in order to shake up preconceived notions and narrow perspectives. I believe in karma and paying it forward. I believe that desiring to learn and hungering for knowledge are highly underrated. I believe the mediums of music, art, and literature can save souls. I believe that there is something more out there and something after this life, but that if there isn’t, this world and this life are wonderful enough. I believe that life is actually very basic and it is through a disconnect with the world and with one another that we have created complications. Love one another, be compassionate towards man and earth; I believe it really is that simple.
More than anything though, I believe that we create our own happiness, that we are in charge of our own destiny regardless of the accidents that happen along the way, and that most things and all people are capable of positive change and growth.
To know my beliefs are good, to strengthen them, all I have to do is wake up, open my eyes and leave my room each morning. As an intern, this was to the sight of Elly and Julie sleeping five feet from me in the girls’ bunkroom. Last semester it was to our neighbors’ mango tree and growing fruit—this semester, it’s to ours and ripe ones. If I leave my room and head down the stairs, I would pass through the living room that has been arranged and rearranged more times than I can count, full of posters created for the health week Johana and Morgan planned, the wall that once read “todo bien”, then was stained with smoke, that is now painted a beautiful turquoise by Brianne. I would go through the kitchen with its new stove and Maria cooking her famous banana pancakes, an extra fridge and countless shelves to hold the food of twenty people and the endless fresh produce now part of our once standard meat & comida meal plan. I would walk outside to the patio covered chaotically in shoes, past the table that used to be just one and is now three pushed together to fit our family dinners, where Rayna and Emily might be planning for Carriazo classes or Katie might be discussing book club plans with Esteban. I would pass the garden and see the magic circles created for compost before I’d ever even heard of Kalu Yala, see the vine Lea planted last summer, the full-grown yuca planted by Noris during my fall absence, the raised bed and path and new compost pile I hauled rocks for with Morgan, the new papaya sprouts that Juice accidentally grew from so much raw veganism, and now the garden beds, chicken coop, paths covered in sand, and countless seedlings that Brenda has been working towards. I could walk out our rusty white gate and see the river that I have swum in more times than I can count, which Portia and Cristina are now using for testing to aid water improvements. A ways further I would pass the fonda where I first met Sofia and Sonia with Evans leading the way, and with whom I’ve now talked to about health care in more interviews with Ann. I might walk by the cancha where Jen meets Kathia or Aura at 5 am for exercise class and where Tomas now coaches soccer and where our first fun run was held by Jasmine and where we play nightly volleyball with Jorge. I might stop to see Miriam and the garden being created for her by Anna, and depending on the time see Lindsey speed by on a run, or see Jenna walking back from teaching in the Special Education classroom, or find the library packed with kids for one of Megan’s movie nights.
That five-minute walk is all I need. I see hands getting dirty. I see physical efforts exerted to build upon what already was. I see the concentrated faces of interns mentally problem-solving before they stand up and follow-through with implementing brilliant answers to their own questions. I see friends and family where I used to see strangers, and I see possibility, opportunity and accomplishments where I used to see impossibility and closed doors. I witness life in constant flux and over time, as changes are made cooperatively by positive, passionate people, who take their own beliefs and motivation, mix that with creative critical thinking, and then apply their beautiful individuality to solving the problems of a community. I see people doing, and I see them doing happily.
Jody Williams wrote, “I believe that worrying about the problems plaguing our planet without taking steps to confront them is absolutely irrelevant. The only thing that changes this world is taking action. I believe that words are easy. I believe the truth is told in the actions we take. And I believe that if enough ordinary people back up our desire for a better world with action, we can, in fact, accomplish absolutely extraordinary things.” After the last year here, I no longer believe this to be true. I know it to be.