Hello lovely friends.
Today’s post is a bit different to normal. Right back at the beginning of our full time travel journey, before our backpacks were even packed, I wrote some posts about some of the meaning and purpose behind our travel and adventures such as why travel shouldn’t be put on a spiritual pedestal and why we’re not ‘chasing the dream‘. There’s also these ancient travel quotes that we love, that sum up a lot about what travel is about.
I haven’t written much about the emotional impact of full time travel, which is what this post is about.
The ways in which travel can affect you emotionally can’t be overstated. As willing as we are to step out of our comfort zones, our lives in London hardly gave us a chance to do this. It’s as though no matter how big the step we wanted to take, there was a wall of cosy bubble pushing back against us- nothing was that big a deal, our actions seemed to fade into shadows in the metropolis of our work and social lives.
The glasses we wear as part of our comfort-zone uniform often make us blind to the need around us; it is easy to pick up the phone to donate to Children in Need when we see a problem ‘over there’, alien to us and not really part of our world- it feels quite different to give up one of your precious days off to spend with a lonely local person, or invite the homeless guy outside Boxpark to come in for a meal with you and share your evening rather than to take a split second to hand him a few quid on the way back to your heated home.
These glasses get ripped from your face abruptly when you travel. Along with the half-full bottles of Lucozade and too-big tubs of moisturiser abandoned at airport security (seriously people, 100ml, is it that hard to remember?!) a separate invisible bin stands with the spectacles of singular perception, and bloated belts of knowledge that we thought we had, and the comfy slippers of judgement that fit so well when we’re in our own homes, looking out at everyone else.
It is a very, very peculiar feeling to spend ten minutes on Google translate, feet in the sand, salty breeze in your hair, trying to communicate to the Pad Thai vendor that you definitely don’t want ground shrimp or fish sauce in your noodles, and then to turn around and see floor upon floor of neon-lit bars selling girls like slabs of meat, their toddlers sitting on bar stools nearby as old men eye up which of their mums they want to pay for meaningless sex tonight.
It is incredibly humbling to walk past a woman cradling her disabled child on the street pavement outside the pretty surf shop you’re about to browse in, and then to stop because your conscience is better than you, and to put your hand in your pocket and walk back, and fall down a drain and break your toe on a grate that wouldn’t have been in your way had you stopped when you saw her the first time.
It does something to your brain, or soul, or both, when you watch children who have been rescued from trafficking open their Christmas presents- their only presents all year- and immediately look up and reach out to you and hand over their chocolate coins, because they see that you haven’t got something.
Then there was the time we were looking for a good place to fly our drone, and we stumbled into a guy at a huge water tank at the edge of a slum village. “He’s a paedophile”, our friend told us. “And he controls the water supply for the whole village.”
There was that time, and that other time, and that other time, and all the other times that we said “no, thank you,” to the elderly men selling fans and wooden jewellery boxes and flower garlands, and then it became “no, thank you, sorry,”, and then just a silent head-shake and a mumble and a sad smile as we realised that we have no idea what impact that buying or not buying a £1 souvenir has on their ability to eat, or buy a bed for the night- and yet still we can’t help, not really, because there are so many of them.
And again, when you have just left your beloved church back home after recent health and safety renovations- new toilets, new kitchen, all needed if we didn’t want problems with inspectors- and you visit a church on the Burma border, which is actually in the filthy corrugated iron shack of the village chief, and there are huge holes in the floor, and the kids are matted with mud- words start to cease and you just start staring numbly, like what is this?
And I don’t really know. Nobody does. I do know that always focusing on having a SUPER GREAT TIME with all the sparkles and palm trees and over-saturated blue in ocean photos, is not the point. “Love felt is the seed; love shared is the flower” is something I read the other day that resonated big time. We are having an absolutely incredible time; it is one of the best things we’ve ever done and not a day goes by where I’m not insanely thankful for the life that our kids are having, and for how lucky we are to be together all the time and work in sunny, hot countries with beautiful nature around. I think the next thing, the really big question for us, is how do we make sure that we spread that feeling; how do we share the love and gratitude and happiness that we experience with others?
I don’t know that either. I know that helping people to compassionately connect with their children is my #1 passion, and that’s how I try and share joy. There are other ideas in the pipeline, but one thing we have learned from our adventures (and life) so far is that what we think will happen, and what actually happens, are things from two different Universes.
For now, we’ll keep sharing our story, and our passion for compassion, and hope that this is enough.