I was just reminded about a friend, with whom I used to work, who wakes up every morning* and turns to whomever first crosses his path and says:
“Good morning! It’s a great day to be alive!”*No really, EVERY morning.
And, if you wake up near him at a campsite for a few days in a row you soon realize that, indeed, it always is.
When people ask me why I chose to work in Cambodia, I almost always say “Why not?” And when they give me a look that implies that they really do want to hear a longer reason, I usually ramble on a bit about change, and how it is palpable in Cambodia: forward, backward, and side-ward, but always some-ward. For a stagnant-a-phobe, Cambodia is a great place to be. It’s in motion and being in a place in motion means you can feed off of and into the momentum around you. I imagine working on the Thai/Burma border, with adults who have spent their ENTIRE lives in refugee camps, or in the consistent undulation of the Gaza disputes could be harder. In Cambodia, progress might sometimes seem slow or misdirected, but at least it does always feel like it is moving.
If you ask me on a verbose day (which is probably about a good 360 of the year), I might also tell you about a quote someone said to me on my first visit to Cambodia in 2002. “It’s a great time to be alive in Cambodia,” was part of her answer about why she loved her job. Alive… and time. Post 1979, after the Khmer Rouge had attempted to turn back time and when nearly a quarter of the population had died or were about to from starvation or ongoing fighting, Cambodia today seems like heaven. How does corruption effect you? “Well, it’s better than before,” she says. So indeed, it IS a great time to be alive in Cambodia, and it shows.
So perhaps that is part of why I chose to stay in Cambodia. And perhaps that is something I got out of living there, and out of Tim’s daily mantra. Today IS a great day to be alive. Now let’s go prove it