Calm Thoughts from an Excited Mind

What do you get when you combine receiving a letter for an interview at a medical school with having two interviews for a position in Kenya with having your best friend in another country? I now know. You get an outright, honest to goodness, no holds bar, excitingly anxious roller coaster ride of a week. Was that enough adjectives? Not really.

While sometimes I may try to stay more on subject, I’ve decided this will be somewhat of a play-by-play of weekly events – a journal-esque entry – that have created possibly one of the most uniquely feeling weeks I’ve lived.

Molly shipped (flew) off to Australia for a semester abroad. There’s not a doubt in my mind it’ll be one of the best experiences of her life. Fortunate enough am I to likely have the chance of sharing some of it with her.

The week started, while a bit on the lonely side, very well. Experiments gave results. Good or bad who’s really to say, but they were there ready and staring at me, waiting for my interpretation. More excited events transpired starting Tuesday, the 24th, when I applied for the CUREkids Coordinator position with the help of my friend Brianna DiGiacomo (bridigiacomo.wordpress.com), the Coordinator in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Applied and ready, I awaited a response eagerly. Wednesday happened with Susan, Philipe, Deep and a whole heap of fun. Thursday. The day. Waking up to a fresh pot of organic coffee gifted by Philipe and Susan, my body and mind were jolted, quite literally, to life. An aside: I drink coffee about once every 3 months on average, if that much, so you can imagine my liveliness following a full cup. Turns out, not only do I get to Skype with Molly Frances over in Aussie-Land (hope that’s even the slightest bit politically correct), a conversation and sight that is always complete magic, but I hear from Brianna who tells me, “You’re in the top 3!” Not an hour passes before another message comes through that reads, “Cameron, you’re in the top 2!!” About 30 more minutes pass and I get an email from Jenny asking to set up an interview. Within 30 minutes, that interview is taking place. That day. Two days after I applied. Things went well and I was told the next step was to interview with her bosses. Sixty minutes went by three whole times before I got an email from Matt at CURE who wanted to set up an interview, which was then scheduled for the following morning. At this point, I was slowly but most surely becoming a nervous, overly excited, can’t-believe-the-possibilities young man (I am still that, right?) wholeheartedly psyched about whatever comes my way. And sure enough, that led to approximately 4 hours of sleep. While I woke at 05:30 to update Molly and read a bit, making possibly the most futile attempt at focusing my mind anywhere other than the impending interview, I began to feel those blasted nerves. The ones deeply enveloped in whatever mechanism it is in your stomach that decides that when you “get nervous” its going to tie a Double Windsor with your esophagus and a bowline with your upper intestines while at the same time combining two half hitches and an overhand somehow in between the first two. How it’s possible I don’t know, but I can now assure you that is most certainly is. Literally, I shook. And that shaking basically continued right up to the point the interview began. Once it did, everything flowed. It went well. We covered all the bases and answered plenty of questions, I said my goodbye and they told me they’d be in touch very soon. It was over in a not at all too soon sort of way, but more in a I feel pretty darn good about that sort of way. So I waited a while. Then I sent a follow-up email like any self-respecting, motivated person who wants an awesome experience such as this one would do, and heard back fairly soon with the instruction to have a good weekend. Knowing that I could relax, knowing that I didn’t necessarily have to be waiting at my desk, computer at the ready and phone in hand all weekend, was a great relief. And for the most part here we are.

Now it’s late. I’m going to sleep. A lot. A whole lot.

Couchsurfers and AcroYoga

Couchsurfing. It means letting, in most everyone’s sense of the word, a stranger into your home. It also means making a new friend. Or two. As is the case with Susan and Philipe, from Australia and Austria, respectively. Ringing the doorbell in the rain and hearing the yelp of my brother’s dog Izzy may not have been the warmest of welcomes, but soon we were sharing stories of travels, friends, and adventures. What country didn’t we talk about? (Thinking for a moment) Latvia. Yeah, Latvia never came up. These guys have been all over! And I can’t wait to go! My aptly named, thought provoking friend Deep showed up for the event, a dinner of sweet potato and butternut squash tagine, oven-baked brown rice, chickpea swiss-chard soup, and oven-baked bread touched by the loving, delicate hands of Susan. Thus, Morocco, Italy, and Switzerland were out of the way, which left us to their travels of motorcycle trips in many countries of South America, work in Japan and Germany, Nepalese base camps (yes, Everest), Australian travel recommendations, Canadian mountains, and even Antarctica, where Philipe sailed as a chef while waiting for parts for his motorcycle to arrive in Chile.

I shared with them my day, which among work at the lab, included applying (loosely) for a position in Kenya as a CUREkids Coordinator. This rare, phenomenal opportunity was made aware to me by an old friend, Brianna DiGiacomo, who is a coordinator in Ethiopia and loving it. I must admit, I’m green with jealousy. CURE is a non-profit organization which started around 1998, when they first opened a hospital in Kenya. Since, they’ve seen a overly-impressive 1.5 MILLION patients. Simply staggering. Better still, they’ve performed 121,000 surgeries and trained 2,400 medical professionals. I was eager and excited to learn as quickly as I could about the organization and how I could work as a CUREkids Coordinator to help children in dire need of inexpensive surgeries that could change their lives. This thought made me realize something I love about life. There is always always always something new to learn. Whether it’s an act, an opportunity, a thought, or a person – learning never ceases. CUREkids, after reading some of their stories, are teachers. Inspirational teachers from which the world can learn. I humbly lower my gaze as an eager student. Children all over the world with minor, curable birth defects remain helpless. They deserve a better life. We can give it to them. A combined, shared, powerful effort can give it to those who are in need. I want my energy to strengthen this effort, heaving it from intensely robust to colossally prodigious. A lofty goal perhaps, but it lends me to answer a lofty question: Can one person make a difference? How? Yes. By combining ideas, strengths, and love. With the help of others! I would love to learn the many lessons I am sure the power above has in store for me and would be excited to find that some of these lessons await me in Kenya. If the stars don’t align for me there in Kijabe, Kenya and God has chosen for me a different path, I will reconcile knowing that I have done all in my power to put myself in a position to help others through my new awareness of CURE. One door will soon open. I’m certain the light beaming through will be brightly burning.

On another note entirely, Deep introduced us to the wonderful, artful dance that is AcroYoga. Such good fun! An incredible friendship-strengthening exercise if there ever was one.

I’ll end with this quote, found serendipitously on the AcroYoga website:

“The glory of friendship is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Much love,

Cameron

Yurtville, Arkansas!

With a total of 8 yurts, Stone Winds Retreat in Chester, AR provides a heavenly respite and serene calmness lulling you into relaxation with every breath of the fresh Ozark air.

Amber Waves of Grain

A fallen chestnut colored leaf sleeps on an elegant, pillowy growth of moss. Underneath, a frozen mass which formed the largest icicle I've ever seen!

While some shots urge you to hasten your finger's movement and release the shutter, the calm winds of Chester, AR allowed for relaxed photographic opportunities.

Frances took this one, randomly and with a great outcome.

“Hurry! Hurry! You’ve got to see this!!” Running up the hill, I found what is now ingrained in me. Yes, both the smile and the sunset.

If there were a Tree of Life in Arkansas, this would probably be it.

Okay, she said hesitantly and hiding her smile underneath, “I’ll take a serious photo”.

 A more-than-wonderful birthday weekend with an incredible friend, beautiful days, nights, stars, and memories.

Cameron