“Why Jamaica?” It’s usually asked with astonishment, accompanied by either eyes widening in alarm or head nodding in appreciation. And my standard answer is a flippant: “Why not?” From now on when I’m asked why I would choose to live in Jamaica for a year maybe I will direct people to this video instead. I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to be intoxicated with hibiscus?
But the real reason is probably something much closer to the misheard lyrics of one of the best known Jamaican songs ever, Israelite by Desmond Dekker & The Aces (who knew the actual words were “Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir”? Then again, I highly doubt that will be the last time I totally mishear something due to a thick Jamaican accent.) To oversimplify things completely, I don’t want to wake up every morning and have the same thing for breakfast.
It’s scarily easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing day in and day out, week in week out, year in year out. We start to forget not only all the incredible places and people and things that exist beyond our own little bubble, but also the incredible things that we ourselves are capable of, if only we can gather the courage to step out of our comfort zone.
No one wants to look back and realise they have simply lived a blur of groundhog days, each so monotonous they cannot be separated from the day before. Because that is not really living at all. I think Diane Ackerman said it best: “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
So, in an effort to live the width of my own life, I’m going to volunteer in a remote village in Jamaica for a year, with no running water and sporadic electricity. I leave Sydney in three days and right now it feels like I’m not just stepping out of my comfort zone, but taking a running leap off the edge of it and crossing my fingers as I free fall. And along with all the other hundreds of unanswered questions, I have absolutely no idea what I will be eating for breakfast.