Who knew lack of sleep and making $100 a month could be a good thing? Last night I woke up at about 0030 and could not go back to sleep until about 0300. In that two and a half hours the majority of my thoughts were directed at my future after the Peace Corps. I thought about the work I would be doing, where I will live, and other small details which probably do not matter now. One thought stuck with me though. I now know the difference between wants and needs.
I didn’t fully notice this change in my behavior until my mom called me in anticipation for her trip to Ukriane. She asked if there was anything I needed from America. In a split second I thought about the things I need. My first thoughts were furnishing in my apartment, food, water, and clothes. I had everything I needed.
She started sending me pictures of items while she was shopping at Costco. She asked do you need shoes, do you need shirts, do you need food and etc. She sent me a picture of some shirts. They were nice shirt and I think they were about 3 for $10 dollars (or, something like that). I told her, “Mom, I know they are a good price. But, I just don’t need them.”
That was a big step for me. If we trace back to the thousands of dollars in excess stuff I asked my Mom to by while roaming the isles of Costco we would find a number which would make me sick. I am glad that time is behind me.
Don’t get me wrong. I still want a lot of stuff. But, it does not bother me as much. And, I am able to identify the two. For instance, I really wanted a new suit for about a year now. I didn’t really need a new suit. However, my old jacket does not fit me anymore and I am not sure if I ever had the matching pants. In fact, if you think about it… I may have never really owned a suit in the first place. My point, That want has turned into a need. If I was in America it would be very simple for me to go out to the mall and swipe my card. But, here I waited until it became a need. That’s why the Peace Corps gives us the average citizens’ wage. It helps volunteers mold with their surrounding and make a connection with everyday people.
I was taking a bus ride to my near by capital city the other day. It was kind of cool because I had the whole bus to myself. Which is rare. When we got within the city limits I moved to the front of the bus in order to point out specifically where I wanted the driver to drop me off. He noticed my accent and we started chatting a bit. I gave him my background and we shared the normal banter. Then, he asked me if I make a lot of money. I told him how much I made and he gave me a look that was more… that’s cool, than that’s crazy, but still somewhere in between.
I left him and went on my way to meet a friend. As I walked away from the bus stop I thought about the impact I made on that man. I will never know forsure, but I ike to think I left him with a positive outlook. Its why I am here. Even though I get caught up in my future… sometimes I forget it’s not about me.
*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman and are not a reflection of the Peace Corps or its affiliates.