Please Note: I wrote this post over a year ago but never got around to publishing it. Although time and circumstances have changed – everything I say still holds true today!
Regina and I decided to take a break from traveling and came home to Canada exactly 1 month ago. Our original plan was to go live in Thailand for one to one-and-half years and though we were gone for almost a year and half, we spent that time all over South East Asia. It was phenomenal!
Maya Bay (Krabi) where “The Beach” was shot (with Leonardo Dicaprio)
Generally people respond with “I can only imagine”, but yesterday I had someone pose yet another question: “what do you mean with life-changing?”
I tried explaining how it had been “eye opening” and how I had learned so much – not just about the people, nature, or history of the countries we’d been to – but much more so about myself.
Now, we did not set out to find ourselves by “becoming monks in Thailand” or “learning to meditate in Bali” like many have done before (the idea of either is intriguing though). We simply wanted to see Asia and explore a new culture – but boy… our lives will never be the same again.
One of the biggest personal realizations I came to is how we can get so attached to “things”. These can be physical things like a home, cars, friends, family, or even jobs. They can also be non-physical things like traditions, beliefs, perspectives, attitudes, pride, etc.
As I hinted at in my last post, we (while traveling) very quickly started to look at how little “things” we could live comfortably with instead of “how much can we possibly travel with”. It was a freeing shift in the way we looked at earthly possessions.
Sure it would be nice to have a huge mansion to play hide-and-seek in or to have a beautiful Porsche parked in the drive-way, but the thought of either is not very “freeing” to me anymore. Not saying they are bad things to have – but am simply saying that at this point in life I’d much rather not have it and be traveling.
Maybe a different way of looking at it is: instead of striving for the next shiny object, our whole drive has become all about the moments and the experiences. Learning new things, becoming all we can and are meant to be. To look at ourselves realistically without having our vision clouded with “things” or even with the expectations of others.
In a sense, we are no longer slaves to the material world. We let go of it and are finally able to breath, smell the flowers, hear the birds, etc. We stopped worrying about “things” back home or having to be anywhere at a specific time. We were truly able to embrace the moments as they presented themselves to us.
I am not saying that having possessions is bad, but now being back in Canada and being around people that buy new “things” on a regular basis “just because”, I can’t help but feel sorry for the trap of “short lived joy” they find themselves in.
Or… now that the days are warmer here in Calgary, I sometimes go for a walk down the street and see the odd garage door standing open and it is packed to the top with “things”. Heck, a great deal of the garages don’t even have room anymore for a vehicle and they consequently park their 3 or 4 cars in the drive-way.
I sometimes can’t help but feel stressed just at the thought of owning all these things, lol. Hard to think that THAT was the exact life I once thought of as the ideal life 😀
But… enough of that. Let me conclude by quoting John Tibbetts:
“To know a person in his home is not to know him at all: to meet him on a country road with only his baggage is to at last contact the core, the inner cell of his personality.”
The ultimate question everything boiled down to (for me) was: Who am I?
When I remove myself from all the short-lived possessions, all the brain-washing and mental programming I had grown up with, all the friends, co-workers and business associates, etc – who am I really?
Removing myself from an environment I had gotten comfortable in and exploring (for an extended period of time) environments completely foreign to me, helped me to look at everything I knew (or thought I knew) from a different perspective.
I would not consider myself “all enlightened” by any means, but traveling South East Asia has changed my view on what is truly important in my life – and that alone was worth the trip.
How has traveling changed your life?