Tomorrow I go back to work and this chapter of our lives officially closes. After over two years of travel, spacious freedom from the daily grind, and a daily stream of transformative experiences, it is time to re-enter the atmosphere. It is an event that has happened to all the world travelers we have met along the way, though while we were traveling it always seemed so remote. I remember speaking with Claudia in Cambodia about how she was counting down the days left until returning home for business as usual. Chris & Lauren had similar feelings in Vietnam as the days remaining on their trip grew shorter. Throughout our trip we encountered folks preparing to re-enter after their own amazing travel adventures, wondering what “ordinary life” would be like with the new lenses that they had acquired while abroad.
Returning to the US was the first stage in the re-entry and for Neda the final stage occurred fairly quickly, as she got a good job at the end of July. The first few months were difficult for her, adjusting to the schedule of a regular work week, to having so much less time than we did before. Tomorrow it begins for me, though I am excited about the work ahead with my new job. I will be managing workforce development programs for low-income youth in Montgomery County – looking at best practices to help them complete high school (or attain a GED) and transition into college or employment afterwards. It is good work, but even so Neda’s experiences warn me that the re-entry will cause a bit of shell shock the first few weeks.
Still, if there is one thing our travel experiences have taught us over the past few years, it’s that change is constantly occurring in the world and within us, and that there is no real choice but to accept it. Whether it is the rapid development we saw in countries like India, the political upheaval in Catalonia, or the challenges of previously agricultural economies like Bulgaria keeping up in a world market, the one constant was change. At a personal level, little babies that we left behind when we started our travels (Ella, Lily, and Liam) are now running circles around us, singing songs, and playing with trucks. It is all enough to throw you off-balance, unless there is a rope to help keep your footing.
Luckily, there is such a rope. This past weekend Neda & I met up with my best friend David and his husband Steven in the quant town of Mystic, CT. We spent long hours catching up and enjoying the cuisine and beautiful setting of the area. But perhaps most impactful for me was a conversation David and I had about how much we had changed since meeting over 10 years ago. How more knowledge of the world has tempered the hot idealism of our youth and how our values have shifted as we have gained more and more experience.
This is bound to be as our personalities and ego-minds are as subject to change as the rest of the universe. But while we can’t stay the same, we can find some grounding through these disorienting changes. And that is through constantly re-committing to the things that are important to us. It doesn’t matter if 10 years ago my commitments may have been different; it is the very act of committing that is the powerful one. In my current iteration, that means committing to bringing more mindfulness to my life. It means looking at all the tasks and changes ahead and embracing them instead of resisting them. It means bringing compassion to myself and others where otherwise there might arise fear and anger. And as I write out these commitments, I realize that perhaps they aren’t all that different from 10 years ago, it is simply the way I will implement them that will be different than before. And there is a certain beauty in that.
So one chapter ends and another begins. There is still more to come from Fields of Indulgence, but the nature of this blog will change as well. We hope to focus on highlights of the Philadelphia region as we explore it and our own lives through the spiritual lens that has been our thread throughout these travels. Thanks for joining us this far in the trip and I’ll see you on the other side!