One of the greatest things about travel is the fresh perspective it gives you. You see your world (the world) in a whole new way. One of the hardest things about travel is coming back to what was. Your new perspective on the world can suddenly make the life you were living, seem less than pivotal.
My daily rhythms have felt so much less purposeful or worthwhile in comparison. After seeing so much of a small pocket of humanity, how do you take all you've seen and heard and integrate it into the life you live now. I've asked this question so many times. I don't really believe in living for the future, living for an idea of what will be. Sure, I believe in dreams and goals and ambitions with the best of them. But I don't think we should live only for those things that may or may not be. Because then suddenly you are 33 and you wonder what you've been doing and how much longer until your real life begins. I don't think this is a healthy way to live.
I had this great conversation with my Gram last week. I called her to say hi, yes, I'm alive and well, and to attempt to explain just what we were doing in East Africa. I told her all about our trip and my new job. It only took about an hour. But then she said this great thing. She said, "Well, my sweet granddaughter, all of this has shaped you into who you are. It has informed your life and your experience has brought you to where you are today. And this too, whatever it is, will continue to define who you are and where you are headed."
What a gal, that Gram. I love her for saying that.
So, I guess, this too, even the coming back to what was (what is), is part of the whole story. It is defining who I am and where I'm headed. If nothing else, it compels me to see better, farther, truer.
In between all the work and re-acclimation and catch-up, I've been thinking over these things:
I've been doing a lot of writing, both for work and personal. It is a strange thing. This solitary act. This compulsion. This conviction to let the thing inside of you out into the universe. Where does this come from? I'm grateful to Rob Bell for sharing these thoughts on the act of writing and reflecting on Frederich Buechner's words. I now know why it is I do what I do:
"Where your feet take you, that is who you are. My feet are crossed under the table..."
I read this book while I was traveling. It is amazing. I mean, seriously folks, the main character's name is Blue van Meer. One of the most captivating things I've read since, I don't know, The Fault in Our Stars. Actually, it reminded me a little of John Green's writing. But it is more grown-up, more complex, and with far more references to literature. Why it has taken me until 2013 to read this book published in 2006, I do not know.
I saw this movie. I had no idea about any of that. What an incredible story.
I also saw this movie. Wow. What a show. Don't miss this hidden gem.
Two serious contenders for tomorrow night's Oscar win.
Before I left for East Africa, I discovered this poem from poet and priest John O'Donohue, For the Traveler. It comes from his book To Bless the Space Between Us. These are the last few stanzas:
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of the spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
PS. If you would like to see a short video that gives a taste of our travels, well, here ya go: