The Lesson of Immobility
In everyone's life there is a time to move and a time to stay still. Even people with itchy feet like me once in a while need some tranquility and idleness. However, when a well deserved rest turns into an imposed, long immobilization, it is an awful nightmare.
In my case things went wrong in the worst possible moment. Having decided to leave the office reality forever, I quitted my job. The plan was to hit the road in a campervan and for at least a year tour from one rock climbing area to another. A week after handing in my resignation I woke up with a knee doubled in size, unable to straighten it. It was just the beginning of a very long health problem story.
So there I was – unemployed, physically disabled, stuck at home and utterly distraught. After a few weeks of catching up with sleep and reading all the books piling up on my bedside, a serious fight against the boredom creeping into my life started. In order to stay sane, I needed to find a way to move insofar as I was able to. And even though I couldn't walk properly, I wanted to keep a promise I had given to myself: never behind the desk again. Against all odds, I decided to follow another dream and move to the countryside. How to make it when you have nobody who could host you, no money to buy a house, no steady income to rent one and, last but not least, no relevant experience to find a job in farming etc.? The best answer I could come up with was: volunteering.
A search for the right opportunity didn't take long after discovering workaway.info website. The general idea behind this project is a few hours honest help per day in exchange for food, accommodation and a chance to learn about the local lifestyle and community.
I couldn't go far away from the doctors, so I moved to an old farmhouse surrounded by stunningly beautiful nature just across my homeland border. Being hosted by a furniture maker, I finally got a chance to learn woodwork - something I have always wanted to try. Few things in life gave me as much satisfaction as finishing my first piece of furniture. My tasks also included gardening and cooking, which was truly enjoyable considering the fact we were growing our own food.
Later I worked away in Spain, too. The daily routine consisted of observing vultures circling above the cliffs, constant language practice and car rides through the most dramatic landscape. In the meantime, I could go bareback horse riding or visit one of the nearby sites, for example a cave with over 20 000 years old wall paintings. The list of new experiences and skills I gained is endless. But above all, I was lucky to meet extremely generous and inspiring people. Probably only due to these uplifting moments I was able to handle the interlacing periods of medical treatment.
Now I do my EVS in Croatia, gradually reintroducing some order into my life. The regular rhythm helps to reflect on what I have learned during the last year. Being forced to resign from my great climbing dream was a big lesson of humbleness. Not to give in to misery, I had to accept my limitations, redefining concepts of adventure and going big. However, I did my best to stay mobile within the new circumscription. But well, that's a common climbing rule – if something doesn't work, you need to try another move. If you try hard enough, there is always a way to move forward.
Aleksandra Leszczyńska (Ola)
EVS Volunteer un Rojc, Pula