Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bangladesh's Big Brother

No, this isn't a reference to Orwellian surveillance or a local reality TV show. It's me. I'm Bangladesh's big brother. I realized last night at the welcoming party for new volunteers that I'm older than the country that is hosting me. How's that for a revelation on the eve of one's 40th birthday? Does it stand as a testament to my advanced years or as a comment on the relative youth of this nation? Probably both. But this is my blog, so let's focus on me and my mid-life crisis.

Actually, there is no crisis, only a time for reflection. When I look at where I was in 1999, celebrating my 30th birthday at a surprise party with friends in Vancouver, I realize that the real surprises were yet to come. At that time, the most exotic location I had visited was a Club Med in Mexico, and I thought that would be about as wild a place as I would ever experience or want to experience. Even though I celebrated my 30th at a rather turbulent time economically, which is a grand euphemism for being unemployed, the thought that I would ever leave Canada never entered my mind. In fact, even leaving Vancouver was not a thought I wanted to entertain, especially when the alternative might be, shudder, that cold metropolis of Toronto. 

So, of course, the next ten years consisted of stops in Toronto, Nigeria and now Bangladesh. A textbook example of solid planning for the future! And I guess I wouldn't want it any other way. Getting lost in the mountains of Ecuador or jumping out of a plane over the Namibian desert were never things I would have considered ten years ago, but I'm glad I had those adventures and I hope for more. Life is meant to be experienced, after all - it's just a question of how a person chooses to do it.

Some heavy thoughts for such a lightweight blog! But as I celebrate the milestone next week, I'll do it with thanks to everyone who has been a part of my 40 years, family and longtime friends half a world away and those who are with me now. Here's hoping for a future for all of us that is just as rich as the past!