I wanted to say a little something about what this one month project experience has been like. Its hard to describe to people just how different living here can be. I understood that coming in, but what I didn’t understand completely was how much the project itself would be the complete focus of my time here. I had grand visions of finishing in a week or two, and here I am with almost all the parts on the ground struggling to get the accuracy on the rails that I wanted.
Forgive the length of the post, I usually strive for brevity.
â€œIt takes about three weeks to get use to living here.â€
The first day you’rr filled with a grand passion to finish your project right then and there. The preceding weeks were a back and forth refinement of the project visit proposal, till you are so sure you could blow through the whole thing in a week, two weeks at the most. After the second week, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize how even the best laid plans will take longer than expected. At some point when things stop looking so rosy you begin to condense into your pure objective, The Project. It becomes the singular measurement of success, and thus the swells and troughs of expected success continue, so does your mood. In short, it takes an objective outlook to see past the details and understand how to salvage the core of the project from unrealistic expectation.
â€œIf life isn’t interesting enough to make up your own quotes then you’re doing something wrong.â€
By the second week you’ve come to grips with the living conditions or you’ve already packed up for home. This place is built upon the dreams of the men and women who come here. Each of them leave a little part of themselves here in what they contributed. By the second week you’ve also realized what this place is and what it means. Its a dream made manifest, kept alive by the people who volunteer their time and a measure of their vitae. Like all dreams, the meaning of this place twists and turns until the daylight hours blow away the mist and leave in their place the fixed stark reality of once lofty dreams. In short, you either get it or you don’t.
“All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.”
By the third week you’re terribly shaken. Events out of your control degrade the living conditions, distort the project you’re so focused on, and inevitably it is the nature of humanity to rub each other raw somehow. If your lucky you will learn, re-learn, or learn anew the meaning of perseverance in the face of adversity. It is this forging of the spirit with the hope of self betterment that makes enduring hardship – and in truth life itself – worth it. Our peers and mentors can help or hurt us, but it resides in each of us the capacity to overcome any obstacle if we are willing to submit our body and selves to the tasks before us. In short, it took three weeks to master the composting toilet, and let me tell you what a relief that was!
â€œI will say though that there is such a thing as too interesting a life.â€
By the fourth week, you’re thinking about what you want to do next – and if another project visit or going home are on the agenda. Either way you go, you wake up feeling liberated. The major trials are behind you and all that’s left is to buckle down and finish what you can of your one month project and look forward to the time left. This place, this catch of dreams, draws forth the most interesting of people. In the beginning you come here for the chance to work on an amazing project, but you remember most of all the people you meet and the experiences you take back. In short, the aspirations of the people at FeF dictate the flavor of the place.
It is still an open question as to the contents of the rest of my stay here. Keep us all here honest with your feedback, as the value in this sort of work lays within its utility to those who come after. In exchange I will continue to keep everyone updated, and look forward to the day my contributions find use.
Lawrence Reed Kincheloe III, On-site Torch Table Expert
P.S. My benevolent Overlord wants me to pump the Torch Table funding basket shamelessly. Funding the Torch Table project and projects like it help ensure that the selfless, unpaid, volunteer work done here can continue. *nudge nudge*