Sunday, December 19, 2010

Travel and Loss


Traveling to the tenth and final country has been one of the most trying experiences. It has also been a journey that has allowed me to see the most about myself. It is easy to love something when it loves you back. It’s easy to love traveling when there are beaches and fresh fruit juice, comfy beds and exciting new friends. But what about when travel does not love you back? It can be a cruel friend, so I have seen. Multiple times I have seen the shadowed side of travel. These are the parts that no one mentions in a post card home. On that small rectangular piece of thick paper, it is all smiles, sunshine and serenity. But once that paper has been stamped and sent by airmail to friends and family back home, the true experiences creep in.

If you think someone is perfect, spend more time with them. The truth comes out, slowly. After nearly four months, traveling has shown itself to me. I see that traveling often means being very uncomfortable, for days or weeks at a time. It means trying new foods, treading softly as to not offend the locals. It means following the group tour, or perhaps getting lost on your own. It means looking inside yourself at the places that only come out in times of desperation, anger or frustration.

I have seen that side: in Russia, with confusion and impatience, in Egypt, sailing down the Nile for 4 days. I saw it in India with no air conditioning, privacy or fresh air. I saw it in Kenya, where the people take too much of your heart. But China has been offering an even deeper view of self. Loss has increased, and my reaction to such events has been frustration and sadness. I see it only lasts for a moment. It last for a few moments, this last time.

There is nothing that is constant, except God, his love and his word. I have seen that. Times and circumstances change so quickly in this adventure of world travel. I lose material possessions, time, and money. Effort seems wasted, people seem unchanged, and my heart reacts in a deceitful way. It is scary. But a short time after, God always comes in and picks up these pieces of me. These pieces are much more malleable than before. They can be molded, shaped and changed in a way that was impossible before that instance.

I am still afraid to welcome such change. Perhaps one day I will see the true value in dying to self, multiple times on a single trip. I hope to see these new shapes. The old ones are gone; they are being replaced, renewed.

The lesson now is to learn to wait through the feelings of confusion, loss, anger, and fear. They still occur, but they are building a larger structure of character and strength that I could not have fathomed before. So in the tenth country I realize there are many more countries to come. There are many more uncomfortable situations. And as I learn to say, Bring the rain, for now I say, the rain is here and I know the fruit will come soon. Just be willing to wait, that’s all.

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