It is finished. The trip has come to a close and it is probably good that I write now from San Francisco while my memories are fresh. Sure some memories will remain forever, but let’s do a recap shall we?
Three and a half months, trekking, living, meeting, adventuring, loving, watching, playing, writing, reflecting, laughing, swimming, jumping and smiling.
Yes yes, it has come to a close. But you know, to me, going to Asia for this time is just like any other place I would go to and come back. Traveling is so normal to me now that I don’t ever feel that “reverse culture shock” that many people who do travel for a while and come back experience. I experienced that feeling back in 2002 coming back from Tibet. And I ended up engaging in various forms of escapism to amend those feelings. The feelings and realities of differences in societies. The difference between the simple nomadic herder lifestyle and the middle class american lifestyle, the thoughts of what really is important in life, what makes humans happy and content.
Sure it rocked my world for a while, and as I continued to travel trip after trip, my understanding of the global village increased and I became more of a global citizen as opposed to solely an American. There are observations of mine that have been strengthened again on this trip.
One thing about all the Asian countries I went to on this trip is the importance of Family. Family is the core. When growing up you respect your elder family members and support your family. When you come of age, you make a living and give some if not all your salary to your family. When your parents get older, you support them. After all, they supported you for many years.
That can be a big difference between the states and Asia. In America, sometimes people are anxious to “get out of the house.” To be free as a bird, do what you want, when you want and however you want. Individualism. It is a strong aspect of our American identity. Is it really a virtue though?
We are all very different. We all have different physical forms sure, but also different mental capabilities, thoughts, experiences and upbringings. Combined, we can make beautiful things. Like an orchastra or a beef vegetable stew, like a painting with many colors or a garden, things individually have their own beauty, but things combined become even more beautiful.
Maybe this is the true natural way we were supposed to live. When we work together great things can be accomplished. And sure, many work together everyday, but do we really LIVE with each other? Do Americans really trust their neighbors, have them over for dinner often, take care of others in the community, even providing financial support if necessary?
I really have come to appreciate the communal form of living. The idea that one is a part of a group and the group is the identity. The idea that we are always there for one another, if one suffers, we suffer, if one rejoices, we rejoice. Life never really gets boring in a scenario like this, because each member of that community brings something unique to the table and each member is growing like a tree, blossoming, or dying and everyone is there for everyone.
There are ways of living around the world that all vary. It is good to experience it and see what type of life you may want to live.
I decided a long time ago that getting a steady job, buying a home and working out in my local gym, wasn’t the lifestyle I desired. I’m sorry, but it’s just too boring. Sure, if I want it, I can have it at any time. And someday I will build my home, or buy one, but it’s sure as hell not going to be a tract home that looks like everyone else on the street. Natural building has caught my attention and living off the grid appeals to me much more than living on it. When the economy crashes and panic ensues, I’ll be self sustainable. Already I am on a sailboat. :)
Okay, enough digression, back to the Asia trip. Family was core, yes. Respecting elders, valuing food, sharing meals with friends, yes. I love Asia. You know this is fourth time I have been back? It is my favorite continent (sorry Europe). Asia has so much to offer and so much to see, do, eat, learn and experience.
The trip has been amazing, though for me, it’s just living. Wherever I go, I try to love on people, try new things, experience the rapid change our world is experiencing these days in different environments and make friends. Friendship is beautiful. Friendship will always be there for you in your old age. It will still bring smiles to your face. If you are old and decrepid, in a wheelchair, all you have to do is taste that cup of tea, eat that certain dish or listen to that song that was part of the original memory you made so long ago. Then you are transported back to that time, to that place, to that person and you sit back, smile and thank God for everything.