Saturday, September 21, 2013

FOMO and Vagabonds

At the beginning of the marathon I ran last October, I started with a volunteer pacer who was aiming for a time slower than the one I was hoping for. The idea is a little counterintuitive: pacers are typically used to speed a runner up and motivate him or her to finish at a specific time. I used the pacer to slow myself down. My tendency is to plow through all my energy at the beginning of the race leaving my body cramped and exhausted miles before the end. The strategy worked well: everything in moderation.

But moderation was a difficult state to obtain in the Peace Corps’ carpe diem, limited-time, rest-when-you’re-dead atmosphere. Even more difficult is employing that strategy to this trip. 2 weeks is not a lot of time, and my mindset has been to take advantage of every moment I’m here or else elapsing time will waste away.

I’ve heard acronym hipsters in The States refer to this as “FOMO”, the Fear Of Missing Out. Upon seeing an issue of 7x7 Magazine on my coffee table, a friend told me she stopped reading it because it gave her a FOMO complex. All these people doing all these cool things, and how can I stay in on a Friday night?

It’s a subconscious calculus that occurred to me in my groggy state this morning. I realized that in my head, I was expecting to go back to my Samoan home tomorrow. I taught at Maluafou College near Apia, and I was looking forward to a quiet return. Except I don’t live there anymore. Tomorrow is one of the free days on the unofficial group itinerary, and I have errands to run around town, people to see, things to do. Also I haven’t arranged accommodations for tomorrow night. As of now, I’m a vagabond.

Except for Dan, who lives here, we’re all vagabonds for the next 7 days. This is by design: Samoan hotels tend to be flexible, and without strict timelines or reservations, we allow ourselves extra flexibility to combat this Fear Of Missing Out.

I realize this probably sounds pretty stupid. Hotel reservations were not invented to enclose or restrict, but part of the joy of the Peace Corps is the spontaneity of adventure, and the group’s collective decision-making is more likely to benefit those with open schedules.

I can distill this quick calculus down to qualitative answers to the following questions (there’s probably more, but this is the list I generated off the top of my head):
  • What is the state of my health?
  • What is everyone else doing?
  • How much money am I willing to spend?
  • When is the next time I need to be somewhere?
  • Will there be a chance to do this again in the next 7 days?
What’s considered the “right” answer to these questions changes frequently. Sometimes you want to do what the group is doing, and sometimes you want some time alone.

Based on this morning’s groggy calculus, I’ll probably get a hotel room in Apia tomorrow night. But rest assured I’ll be up early on Tuesday. I can rest when I’m dead.

I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

The Peace Corp with Bex and Paul. Left to right: Supy 81, Jim 80, Jordan 81, Dan 81, Bex AYAD, Paul 81, AJ 81, Chris 81, Blakey81, Trent 80, and me 81.

Paul and Bex took individual pics with everyone. This one is with Trent. Bex was a good sport about the ocean eating her dress.

Euchre is back in full effect.


we all need help said...

oh you went to somoa to play euchre

timas said...

that wedding looks so relaxed.