I had become accustomed to a much slower pace than I had this past week. With two weeks in Brazil and two weeks in Paraguay, only five days in Bolivia seemed an extremely short period of time to develop an impression of a country. Were it not for the fires in Paraguay, I would have had one more day in Bolivia.
What could I do with one more day?
Could I have hiked through the mountains? That might have been nice. There are hundreds of foreign tourists who come to La Paz every day to do just that.
Would I have visited more places where the poor are being served? In my attempt to create a balanced picture of any country, it is difficult to say what that would do to my picture of Bolivia. Too much emphasis on the problems of a country makes is seem like there is no hope, too little makes it seem like there is no reason to help. In previous blogs, I’ve already articulated that Bolivia faces extremely difficult problems, but it also has people with very strong values who need support to lead the country through its challenges.
Would I have taken an extra day to rest? That would have gratified several of my caretakers who kindly send me reminders concerning my health and pace. They urge me to rest, and even though I try to reassure them that I am doing fine and working at a manageable pace, sometime God intervenes… I took an extra day of rest when I had to stay in Paraguay for an extra day.
Would I have taken my best picture yet? A beautiful church anchored in the dancing twilight of the setting sun? Would I have found spiritual ecstasy as I lost my self in God’s love? Would I have met the person that would create the partnership that could really change this world, or at least changed Bolivia?
I have been present to many people after a loved one has recently died. Often, one of the typical things that a grieving says is that s/he wishes s/he could have just one more day with the deceased. It is interesting to hear the responses when you ask them what they would do with one more day. Usually, their response is not a desire to fulfill unrealized dreams, but rather to have another day like the ones they have already had, one of the days they treasure most.
To some degree, what they are saying is that every day is special, but they are upset that they didn’t take the time to appreciate how special it was, until it was lost.
So I’m not sure what I would do with one more day in Bolivia. The five days that I had the opportunity to enjoy Bolivia gave me a strong impression of its beauty, its diversity, its religious fervor, and its many problems. To sum up the experience, I have put all of my photos of Bolivia into one pictorial. If you have downloaded Google Earth onto your computer, you can view the pictorial by clicking here.
I definitely want to return to Bolivia someday. Not because I am leaving with unfinished business, but because I realize how much I appreciated the experience I did have while I was here.
The travesty of having a finite existence is not the limited time we have, but in the fact that we don’t appreciate the time that we have. We don’t savor every moment, every sorrow, every joy, every pain, and every comfort. This is the world we live in. This is the way life unfolds. Every moment counts, because every moment will be counted.
I’m not exactly sure that I’m advocating for a “”Carpe diem!” “Seize the moment!” attitude toward life. It is nothing so maniacal. It is more a call to accept that “This is it,” “This is what we have,” “This is what we can do.” We can’t reach beyond our limitations if we don’t first reach within our limitations.So what would one more day in Bolivia have brought me? Probably more of the wonderful things that these five days have already brought me.