I am back and fully integrated into life in the United States. There are so many things I wanted to do but I chose to focus on re-connecting with my family and friends. So much of who I am is wrapped up in the ones I love, so personal connections are vital for my quality of life. As I made my first round of visits, I could feel my cup filling up with sunshine and goodness. Yes. I am corny! I am learning to embrace this part of my identity.
Accepting myself as I am is a curious thing, actually. Full acceptance means understanding my quirks and nuances and acknowledging them as mine regardless of who . Admitting that I missed my friends and family while I was in India does not mean that I did not enjoy my time with my parents. When we were younger, our worlds may have been filled with concrete black and white options. We either liked something or we hated it, like broccoli or pavickka (a bitter gourd from Kerala). Most of us kids hated this bitter vegetable from India. We hated it so much that we shuddered whenever we had to even try it.
As adults, we recognize that our lives are filled with shades of colors and tastes. This is the beauty and the bane of adulthood. Having to decide what is more important to us either at that time or for the future is the true decision. Balancing our feelings and wants with those of whom we love or care for also fits into our decision matrix. Accepting that we miss one group while we enjoy our time with another is a realistic reflection of our lives. It is possible and normal to feel multiple conflicting waves of emotion. Our responses to these conflicts is what determines how well we know and accept ourselves.
My time in India made it possible for me to have a variety of experiences that will influence the rest of my life. I missed so much of my life in the USA, but I approached life in India as a temporary duty assignment just like when I was stationed in Fort Irwin, California or Landstuhl, Germany. While I was a soldier, I went from duty station to duty station. During this time, I met many people and had new experiences. All of it enhanced my life. In India, I re-learned that places we visit are often temporary but the important people who are in our lives are not. With this approach, I can happily choose to make a decision to enjoy the time I have for I will focus on the current experience with people I am with rather the other places I should be. By the way, I love pavikka now. Isn’t it funny how our tastes and perspectives grow with age and exposure?