30.07.2011 - 30.07.2011 80 °F
Still holding hands
I woke up this morning with a severe case of “monkey mind” (an endearing term coined by Katut, the medicine man in Bali). Can it really be true that this trip is coming to and end? Our plane leaves for LAX in a few hours. Of course my mind was spinning as I laid in our hotel room bed relishing in the quiet sounds of Ryan and the girls’ slumber. I reached over and held Ryan’s hand, a reminder to me just how fortunate I am as a wife, a mother and a woman. 31 countries, over 100 hotel room stays (some much more pleasant than others) and to think…..Ryan and I are still holding hands. As I tiptoed out of the hotel room to sneak away for one last cup of coffee by myself, I peeked at the girls in their double bed that they have shared for 24 weeks and smiled when I saw that they were “still holding hands” in their sleep.
We have met some incredible people during this journey, young, middle aged (ugh, I guess Ryan and I fall into that category now, a sobering realization, but oh how true, I have several grey hairs, emphasis on the plural, to prove it….that is what happens when you can’t frequently highlight your hair as you travel the world) and many baby boomers. All the people we met shared fun tales of their travels and enlightened us all with their life stories. I was particularly impressed with the 20 something travelers. Maybe its because I enjoy to be around youthful people. They seem to be eager to experience the world, gobble up experiences, take risks, LEARN about other cultures, wear the same clothes everyday because its easier and cheaper (I have actually fallen into this habit, such a simple way to live and significantly cuts down on the laundry), their willingness to stay in hostels to meet other like minded people and their courage to take life by the horns and TRAVEL outside of their comfort zone! It was so refreshing to meet such groups of young travelers, most of whom had graduated from University and many of them had a job waiting for them once they returned (quite a feat in this economy). One traveler was in awe of our family and wanted to know about our adventures. After listening to our tales, some taller than others, depending if Ryan was at the helm of the conversation ☺, this young man said, “absolutely amazing, what a trip and awesome that YOU ARE STILL HOLDING HANDS”. This struck a cord with Ryan and I. Not only are we still holding hands, the girls are still holding hands (ok, they do sometimes exchange a few hits, blows, pushes and eye rolls, but for the most part, they are still holding hands) and Ryan and I are lucky enough that our 13 year old daughters still want to hold our hands as we toured exotic cities around the world, rode sketchy buses and trains through rural parts of south east Asia, climbed the peaks of Machu Picchu, and even when were just walking to a restaurant to share a meal. It is truly a honor that my girls still want to hold my hand. I realize that they are growing up fast and yearning to be more independent, so I am trying to enjoy every hand holding experience with Morgan and Riley.
I know many things for sure after this trip, but so many of these “truths” are difficult to articulate. What I have learned sits deep within my heart and soul. I have learned that humanity can be kind, compassionate and playful and at the same time can be inflicted with undue and unexplainable pain and suffering. I have always been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s challenge “Be the change you want to see in the world”, I even drink my coffee out of a mug at home that is decorated with this quote. Yet I have realized that some things can’t be changed, that SOMETIMES change can be more disruptive than helpful. Many people we met who live in substandard conditions (at least in our American eyes) seem happy, so who am I to wish that they have hot showers, air conditioning, 4 burner stoves, ice, and other so called western luxuries. I have not lost my desire to help others. I still whole- heartedly believe that people can change if they have the motivation and the support to follow through with the internal and external fortitude it takes to make significant and lasting changes. I will continue to be a listener and observer of human behavior.
And most importantly, I will continue to hold hands with Ryan and the girls as we enter our next season of life in southern California as a family. We will always hold the adventures of our “All Ober the Globe” close to our hearts. I think we have been bit by the travel bug, and our next trip won’t be too far away. Morgan may have some trepidations, but I think we can get her on board!
Thank you for following our trip……what a trip it has been!