Liberation comes in the smallest of ways. Somehow, the normal moments of adulthood have never shown up: the deed to a house, a ringed finger, an enjoyment of driving, a bun in the oven, an understanding of RRSPs, the final of revelation of what I really want to be when I grow up.
Yet in the life I have chosen and the life I have created for myself, the mark of arriving comes with a resounding flush of success.
I suspect that working in peacebuilding may be my subconscious effort to actually build or fix something. It seems just vague enough that someone with no manual skills should still be able to call themselves a construction worker without ever having to touch a hammer. I am especially not mechanical, when it comes to toilets. Despite growing up in the Yukon and going camping all the time, it took a trip to Thailand before I was really comfortable squatting anywhere.
In fact, ever since moving to Colombia, I have struggled with toilets. In my first three months, I lived in a home with a weak flushing mechanism. That, combined with an increased amount of fibre in my daily diet, resulted in the walk of shame. I was forced to go down the street, borrow a plunger from a friend and walk back down the block numerous times.
In Mampuján, it was not the toilet per se, but rather the lack of water to flush the toilet with that was the problem. When the well dried up and the rain did not come, difficult choices had to be made. Is today a flushing the toilet day or a washing the dishes day? During the march, I became an expert at middle of the night, dark ditch along the side of the road, bathroom breaks. Never in my life has the question of where to go and how to clean up afterwards been more prominent.
So, when the toilet in my apartment started running a little bit, I ignored it. After all, I do not fix things well, and compared to Mampuján, it seemed to be a small issue. Then it started running a little bit more. Soon it would not stop. My mind started churning: increased water bills, climate change and water shortages, and, worst of all, the inability to sleep because of the noise. My roommate and I knew that if we called the landlords, it would be months until help arrived.
I did, therefore, what any modern, independent seeker would be advised to do. I turned to the internet. After watching a large number of very boring, very badly produced, plumbing videos, I knew what I had to do. In a moment of empowerment, I went to the hardware store, purchased the parts, and replaced the thingy in the tank!
My mind is at ease, and not only because the running noise has stopped. Rather, I feel like I have finally arrived at the point of adulthood. I am liberated from the paralyzing fear of not being useful. If I can fix a toilet, I can do anything! As long as I have internet access and someone has posted a Youtube video, of course. Come to think of it, this may be the problem with peacebuilding and me. Not enough Youtube.