Sometimes you never know where one decision will lead you in life. In my case, it’s a blissful place. Making the decision to come to Jamaica has been a rewarding experience. It has been filled with so many learning lessons, and sprinkled with a dash of hope for a luminous future. It’s like my eye lenses have been sharpened and I can see 35 years in the making. Curtains of uncertainty are rolling back and the view is so vivid, at least, more so than before.
Life is so exciting- and it is the mystery of the unknown that adds to this. No wonder why God doesn’t allow us to see too far ahead. It’s that step of faith to walk into the cloud of uncertainty that God loves so much. The ability to trust something outside of ourselves and just know in our hearts that everything will be okay is a real skill. Yes, it takes practice. For me, it was the long 22-hour trips from Toronto to Southern United States that built up my confidence. It was the not-knowing-where-I-was-going-to-live periods in my undergraduate years that strengthened my immune system against fear of uncertainties. What I realized is that, once a decision has been executed, everything always work out ten times better than expected. Upon developing full immunity against the fear virus, I began thinking of other dreams; like learning spanish in a Spanish-speaking country. Initially, I thought of Spain. But a dose of what-ifs made me think about a country closer to home- Mexico. Still, I was going to get the anticipated experience I wanted. I set off to Mexico for two months; ignoring the butterflies of fear in my stomach. It turned out to be the experience of my life. And I didn’t stop there. Immediately, upon returning home I set off to South Korea as an English teacher. I spent a whole year this time- 14 months to be exact. I did not know the Korean language and I did not have a travel companion. It was me, myself, and I. I made it smoothly from off the 14-hour flight to Seoul International Airport to a shuttle bus taking three hours to arrive at my new home in Jeonju. I was then picked up at the shuttle bus-stop by a stranger, an American woman that had conducted my interview for the job. Talking about going out on a limb.
By the time I returned to Toronto, I was a different person. In a way, I created something in my character that most people never develop. I said it already, an immunity to the fear of uncertainties. Turns out, I may need this characteristic more than most.
On January 2014, I resigned from my job and made a decision to pursue a master’s degree in business here in Jamaica. It sure wasn’t a decision for the faint of heart. It feels like I have been living in uncertainity since the day I left my job and here I am 17 months later, still without a job- no interest in searching for one- and simply enhancing my skill set. But I am doing more than that. I am learning about my own culture, and developing appreciation for life in a developing country. To go deeper, I have grown in patience because things don’t always move as fast as I would want them to. I am growing to accept limitations- mine and other people’s or things. I mean, I don’t always have water running through a tap. Or the truth- sometimes, there is not a bathroom to use in certain vaccinities because of closure due to lack of water. These things happen here- albeit irregularly- and they can be frustrating. I am slowly developing this ability to live in less than perfect environments and be happy, because the fact is, there are so many more positive experiences that has contributed to making this trip the best decision ever.
I got to see President Obama approximately one month ago. Not only that, I was invited to sit with the other overachievers and young leaders on the podium. Watching the President’s back and struggling to hear his message was the best experience in two lifetimes! I got a chance- weeks later -to personally share at a forum held by Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM), my reflection on the President’s leadership and the way his visit impacted me. These experiences are merely the cherry on top of the other rewarding experiences that life in Jamaica has awarded me. The sunshine, the strong currents of rain, the new friendships and new connections, coupled with the breadth of knowledge I have gained, cannot be compared or traded in with any prior experience in my life. I am living in my dreams, sufficiently happy with my quaint and comfortable apartment on residence, and the 12-minute walking exercise I do twice a day to get from home to classroom and back. I get the chance to reconnect with family members I had not seen in almost two decades. And the best part is taking a break to enjoy the beaches, something that has to be celebrated from someone coming from a cold country.
But even more recently, in fact, just hours ago, I did something that was just a thought and a desire. I had a tour of Gordon House, the Jamaican National Parliament. Yes, it was small in size, but represented a big opportunity for me. I had a chance to walk in history; a place where many Prime Ministers and national heroes have set foot. Given its name from a social activist, national hero and former Prime Minister, The Right Excellent George William Gordon, alone depicts the rich history of this national heritage site and still officially the place where the Jamaican government meets. Today, I was there to listen in on the senators’ debate. Prior to sitting on the bench overlooking the debate, the President of the Senate, Floyd Morris introduced me to members of the senate in the different national parties; among them were Minister A.J Nicholson and Senator K.D Knight, two prominent leaders in Jamaica’s history.
Today was one of those momentus experiences in my life that is filled with significance. This sensation I’m feeling is too obscure to describe. To put it metaphorically, I am walking on the sea, but unlike Peter, I know who is keeping me atop the thrashing waves. So stepping out into the world of uncertainties isn’t so bad. It does a lot for a person. It develops character, it enhances life experiences, it gives you a story to tell, and the best of all, it puts you in a place to walk into your destiny. And for me, this is why coming to Jamaica has been the most rewarding experience of my life.