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Photo by Caleb Brooks

Living intentionally

Last Monday, in somewhat of a freak accident, I broke my foot. While standing up from a chair, I clumsily lost my balance and rolled my foot onto the right side, breaking the fifth metatarsal. It’s just a hairline fracture, and I should make a full recovery within 3-4 weeks, but being in a walker boot and using a cane has changed my daily routine, and in some ways, my attitude about life on Bridge Year.

So much of my life in Udaipur is based upon full, independent mobility. I ride my bike to the program house, to my service site, out to lunch, to my IEA, and to other activities with the group before coming back home for the night. I stretch every part of my body in yoga class and get my heart racing at the gym. I hop around the city, visiting my favorite gardens, cafes, and restaurants. And most importantly, one of the biggest aspects of this bridge year involves interacting with new people and experiencing a different culture. All of this is much more difficult when my body is not cooperating.

Instead of biking, I now negotiate auto rickshaw rides several times per day. This allows me to practice my Hindi, and it has also forced me to live more intentionally. No longer can I venture out without a plan; I always have a destination in mind and auto fare in my pocket. I’m thinking more critically about the places I go and why I choose them. Should I really go to the western-style cafe for the umpteenth time, or should I have the driver take me to a museum I’ve been meaning to visit or a restaurant a local has recommended?

One of my favorite activities in Udaipur involves going for a sunset walk by Fateh Sagar lake, which is about a 3 minute walk from my homestay. It’s a perfect way to clear my mind after a frustrating day at work. I can still make it for Fateh Sagar sunsets, but this walk takes about 10 minutes these days, trying to avoid potholes, open sewers, and putting too much weight onto my bad foot. These 7 extra minutes may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve noticed myself looking around more while I walk and noticing things about my neighborhood I’ve never thought of before.

Even mundane daily activities like showering and getting ready for the day take longer these days. I have to be careful to not hit my foot when the boot is off, and I have to choose clothes that fit around this giant piece of plastic around my right ankle. It takes more time, and I’m very aware of this slower pace to life.

To me, living intentionally means thinking deeply about my every choice and understanding the value of every minute. Between hobbling up the stairs and wrapping my foot with an ace bandage, there’s simply less time in the day. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or watching an episode of TV, I find myself reading more, writing more, and spending more time with my host family. My broken foot and all of the struggles that come with it have made me reconsider how I spend my time and the power of my every choice. Hopefully, my foot heals quickly and I can get back to my bike, the gym, and my old independence before leaving Udaipur. I’m certainly not happy that I broke my foot, but perhaps I will look back on this period with a certain amount of gratitude for making me slow down and live more intentionally.