Another Year in Ukraine

A less than auspicious re-entry

I have been back in Ukraine for almost a month after a whirlwind trip back to Canada traveling between Montreal, Stratford, Newfoundland then back to Montreal, Ottawa and Stratford before leaving for a few days in Scotland and Budapest and arriving back in Uzhgorod on April 2nd.  I agreed to spend another year here to further my work and provide as much help as possible to those involved in the Community Economic Development Ukraine project.  I came back to a flurry of meetings and a workshop only to be laid low within the first week by a flu virus unlike any I have ever had before.   It has taken two weeks to fully recuperate even though I continued my work albeit less vigorously than usual.  Thus my re-entry has been less energetic than I would have liked and has caused me reflection of purpose, consideration of needs and contemplation of soul.  Perhaps its was the rapidity of my travel back to and in Canada, the emotions of reuniting with my family after the death of my dad in January or just a natural transitions from one place to another and one culture back into another.  

It certainly wasn’t something I had considered when I left in March as my feelings were quite grounded in my work, stable in my life and comfortable in the place.  It was different last year when I arrived, I knew no one, while this year upon my return I was met by colleagues and friends and have been warmly welcomed upon my return – a sort of prodigal returning.  The language as usual ensures that I spend lots of quiet time when traveling and even during social activities.  But this has not been a problem before but obviously a re-adjustment.  The flu virus didn’t help as it set me back considerably in my work plans for the first few weeks.  Coming back as a consultant rather than a volunteer might have had something to do with these feelings but then my contract this year is practically the same as last years with the exception of some additional funds.  And perhaps the lateness of spring’s arrival may have played a part as now with the trees in bloom (within the last week) and the sun shining warmly life has taken a different glow.

But this process of contemplation is important and the recognition of something different has to be evaluated for my own well being and that of the work that I do.  What has changed?  Perhaps nothing has, but then, why the feelings.  Maybe it’s a normal process of re-entry when one leaves and returns to a place.  Perhaps it’s the less intense environment that I returned to as previously my schedule had been full right up until the moment I left.

The situation within the project has been unsettled by the elections here, not nationally, but at the local level as people involved in the project who sought election or re-election have not all been successful.  But that is normal and natural in any development process as people look to shift and change thus causing ripples of adjustment. In fact, it is healthy for such a process but does require contemplation and management to ensure its stability.  Sustainability of oneself, like community, is mostly about acknowledging and managing the process of change.

It is no different in personal changes and why contemplation of feelings is fundamental.  Recognizing that the world has shifted even slightly is critical to ones ability to adjust and re-adjust.  It doesn’t even have to make sense because often feelings make little sense in the context of thought – it is only in retrospection that they become clear and even then, not always.  We have to consider what we are feeling and perceiving and whether is it internal or outside oneself.  Are these perceptions relative to my soul or the result of some other aspect of life?  Perhaps they are relative to the changes others are experiencing and their feelings are being transmitted as elements of their energy.  Maybe the feelings have no relationship to my own being at all.

There are certainly changes taking place around me.  Many of the colleagues and friends I have met since coming to Ukraine are in a state of flux.  Several of the American Peace Corp workers are about to leave.  My English friend Alan is in a transition process in his work and has been for several months with no real resolve.  His job is supposedly to be terminated in a few weeks after 48 years with the same company.  Other Ukrainian friends and colleagues are making changes to their lives as well.  These are just the constant flux of change that one experiences in life when one engages with others in life and living.  I am sure all of them are experiencing their own feelings of change through the moves they are about to make.

Maybe all this relates to or is influencing my own feelings of uncertainty, my own personal inner doubts and my own sense of a transition beyond what I anticipated.  What is definite is that this movement, whatever its origins,  has had a ripple effect on my being shifting me slightly off centre and a little out of balance.  Its root cause may eventually appear or maybe the balance will shift one more and my centre will just realign.  This may happen as work finds its direction, as the weather moves into summer and my connections are once again stabilized.

I wrote in another essay that human life emulates natural life and the world itself experiencing volcanoes and earthquakes “……volcanoes do the same, start with small vibrations, erupting, then settling down until the next eruption.  Earthquakes are similar, as the plates of the earth shift, the ground moves and shakes, and then recede, until the plates are once again moved by the earth’s internal workings.  Why should our lives be different?  Each change, each move no less significant than the pent up release of a volcano or the shifting plates of the earth.  What is similar is that the landscape of the earth and life are different after each such contortion.”

At that time I reflected on the moves I had then made and their impacts on my spiritual being.  Since then, migration seems to part of my needs and living in different places part of what I am supposed to do.  Each move each shift helping me extend my reach into myself and expand my view of a greater being and presence than human thought can comprehend.   The impact that such a force has on who we can become if we are open to the paths that life provides is quite phenomenal.  But, none of this happens without fears, doubts, or troubling moments and is certainly part of the mystery of life and the process of living.

So once again a transition appears to happening.  Maybe just a small vibration or the shifting sands of my soul moving once more to bring some balance where balance is needed.  But then it could the early signals of a greater shift that may be imminent in the transient life I lead.  What this transition entails is something that may evolve in time but for now it is time to move forward with my work here in Ukraine, which appears to be gaining focus and perhaps even direction.  One thing is certain that, what will be will be, and other than assume and fret there is nothing much to be done only plod along the path that I have been given or chosen and experience the mysteries as they unfold.

Written by Bill Pardy

April 26, 2006

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