It is now 3 plus months since we have been back in our lives in Toronto so I figure it’s a good time to check in and check out.
The trip is really a 2 or even 3 year event, not just one. All the preparation and planning, the trip and now, coming back. It turns out that the coming back part of the trip is the one that I am the least prepared for. There are no lists or plans to make, no places to go, no anticipation of anything.
Though this “coming back” phase is the hardest for me, in some ways I think it might also be the most valuable. If I can somehow distill what I have seen and done, figure out what I learned about myself, my people and the world, and then try to understand how that impacts me back in my old/new life then maybe I can find the gold. Requires the thinking, not so much the doing.
So here goes a small dissertation on the things that have stuck with me since coming back:
Living my dreams
It probably sounds hokey but possibly the most affirming aspect of the trip was that I took the risk and fulfilled a longtime dream. It almost didn’t happen. Not only was it incredibly positive to remind myself that anything is possible, but the kids got to see that too. I have to keep doing this. The question remains at the moment: what is next?
Living in the moment
My friend Linda also recently returned from a sabbatical and likened being away as living in colour and being back as living in black and white. The challenge, as she put it, is to find ways to live in colour in the day to day. This is one of the hardest things for me about coming back. I loved living in the moment. Being back, there are so many distractions! I continue to look for ways to find total in the moment living. This may have to involve climbing things, or going very fast on my bike or playing more hockey or… ?
People are good
We were so lucky to meet wonderful, interesting, kind and generous people. People were so good to us in so many different countries I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence. It was another great lesson for me and for the kids. People really are good.
Coming back was equally awesome. Friends and family seemed extra lovely, or interesting, or funny, or beautiful in ways I hadn’t seen or noticed in so long it was like I was seeing them all for the first time. I was in love with everyone.
So in coming back, I try harder to say hi to people I don’t know, strike up conversations with random strangers and otherwise just be in the world in an authentic, human way. It’s fun.
Education for everyone
I really noticed, especially after we left Europe, how critical a human right it is to have an education. If you cannot read and write you simply cannot participate fully in society. Seems obvious but seeing the lived (and sad) examples of this in so many different parts of the world made it very real for me (again).
In some ways this one is a reminder to return to my own roots and values since literacy of one kind or another has always been with me. I think a volunteer posting is in my 20-year plan (I know, 20 years! It will take me awhile to recover from this trip and I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep). Maybe I will find something sooner. It was good to be reminded of this.
Back in September when I was still post-trip shiny and new and bubbly I wrote on the blog:
“… I am zowie-pop-kerbang high. I wish I could bottle it and take little sips over the next year.”
I have no bottle of post-trip zen juice but I will continue to look for it in my dreams, being in the moment, meeting people old and new and in my work. If I look, I am sure I will find it.
Over and out,
P.S. Pete and the kids and I want to thank everyone one more time for supporting us, following us and being so enthusiastic about our adventure!