Monday, January 2, 2012

catch you on the flip side


Over these past couple of weeks of traveling around Southeast Asia, I’ve found myself taking photos for future “daily(ish)” pictures and making Jules wait to eat until I’ve snapped a pic of her food each meal. I still find myself writing little posts in my head as leave this sight or that, making mental notes on what I thought about it so I could later share it with you. Old habits are hard to break, but after much thought, I’ve decided this is the end of the story. At least this particular one.

I’ve been writing for over 4 years about our lives. It has been amazing to share it all with our loved ones back home and new friends, some we’ve never even met. It has been a labor of love and sometimes just a labor. For those of you who blog, you know what I mean. I am thankful to have these memories recorded and to have shared them with you.

I can’t begin to sum up these past few years. When I think about how they are ending in just under 12 hours, I am overcome with emotions. I have said it before and I’ll say it again- it is time. We both feel it and we both know within the depths of our bones that we will miss traveling, but our next adventure is at home.

I want to end all of this by answering the question we get most. It is the question that almost every single person in our lives and those we meet asks…

“What is the most amazing/awesome/favorite/incredible thing you’ve seen?”

I’ve been unsuccessfully working on a collection of short stories about our travels. I always need a bit of perspective about things before I can write about them or at least that’s my excuse for not having gotten very far.

I’m going to share with you a very short excerpt from what will be the final chapter in my book. Yes, I realize working on the final chapter before even finishing the first one is a little odd, but hey, you should know I’m not that conventional by now. Anyway, it answers that question.

Each time I try to focus on what it is exactly that we have come away with from all this, my mind swirls around and around, but ultimately lands on the same thing- an overwhelmingly deep appreciation for human kindness.

Human kindness has allowed us to see the world. It is the one thing that I have found in every single corner of the globe. Without fail.

When I say human kindness has allowed us to see the world, I mean it in the most literal sense. Living in places foreign to you, where you don’t know the culture, don’t know the language- you find yourself completely reliant on the kindness of strangers.

The guy behind the wheel of the taxi takes you where you need to go. Eventually, anyway.

A waiter smiles and helps you decipher the menu and points you to the best dishes.

People on the street see your look of complete confusion and help you find your way.

The tour guide shares his culture, his people’s history and takes a thousand and two photos of you along the way.

The cashier at the store helps you count out coins on the counter to pay the correct amount.

People you’ve known for just a few weeks listening, sharing your joys and your sad times, filling in as family when yours is so far away.

Strangers overhear your conversation and suggest a better way, a better sight to see, a cheaper way to get there.

The receptionist at the doctor’s office laughs and puts you as ease as you both struggle to fill out the paperwork.

People all over the world have granted us patience, have lent us their hand and have helped us in a million ways. Without them, without their kindness, we would have never seen all we’ve seen, never experienced all we have or enjoyed it as much as we did.

We are different. We speak different languages. We wear different clothes. We eat different foods. We listen to different music. We worships different versions of God. We value different things. We live different lives.

Yet, we are all human. Even if our stripes are different, we recognize ourselves in one another and we honor that innate drive to take care of our own.

It has been a humbling experience to be on the receiving end of so much kindness. It is truly the most awe-inspiring thing we have seen in this world. By far.

Thank you for reading, for humoring me and for being such a big part of all this.