pedazos de corazon

we’re on a long bus journey to the north of chile. i don’t know what it is about long bus journeys that makes me so contemplative, but they do. there are cactii and cliffs rolling past, and suddenly a music video on the “in flight entertainment” reminds me of watching “the long way round” shortly before our departure. it seems like yesterday, and it seems like a lifetime ago.

the purpose of this trip was never to try to “find myself”. after thirty some odd years, i have a pretty good handle on who i am. yet i suppose it’s inevitable that when undertaking a trip of this type, you learn a few insights along the way. stuff about who you are, the nature of humanity, the nature of life. new experiences and challenges have a way of teaching you something, in spite of yourself.

there are people who subscribe to the belief that those who live in underdeveloped countries, who have less or lead “simpler” lives, are somehow happier. purer. or, alternatively, that they lead lives of quiet desperation. i’ve found i don’t believe either of those to be true. based on my experience, i think they lead lives just like everyone else, and the only difference is the scale. they don’t sit around pining for a western way of life. what they see on tv is so far removed from their daily reality, that it might as well be science fiction. so in much the same way that my happiness is not tied to the fact that i can’t live like a hollywood megamogul, they don’t lay awake at night because they don’t have the apartment from friends. like most everywhere, life doesn’t let you spend too much time wanting that which is far out of reach. instead, they want things like healthier children, better schools, the ability to provide for their family. same things, different scale. there’s really not so much that separates my life from theirs except scale. people are not happy or unhappy based on how much or how little they have. they are happy or unhappy based on how achievable their dreams for their family are. everywhere you go, it’s always the same.

i was worried that this trip would make me feel old. after all, i’m roughly 10 years ahead of your average backpacker. not everything is as fresh or new or exciting to a thirty-something as it is to someone just out of university. and part of that is true. i had no desire to join the hoardes getting wasted in bangkok on a friday night like it’s mardigras, and my patience for those who did was definitely thin. yet there were advantages to being a bit older and wiser that i hadn’t counted on. like a greater appreciation for the sights and opportunities. like being able to rent a car. like being taken seriously, and not targeted for scams. like not losing your passport because you’re out clubbing and too drunk to keep track of your bag. and the best part has been the inspiration of seeing others older than myself who are still travelling. people with grey hair and well worn passports who still get a thrill out of life on the road. people with a lifetime of stories that i can only aspire to. i hope that’s me someday (without the grey hair, of course.)

this trip has also brought me further out of my shell. i am, by nature, a very shy person (yes, really) and left to my druthers, i’d be a quiet observer on the side. but travelling just doesn’t allow for much of that. you want to eat? you’re going to have to find someplace to go, figure out how to ask for what you want to order, etc. etc. etc. at almost every point in the day, travelling requires you to decide, interact, and do. periods of “coasting” are few and far between… and that’s not really what you signed up for anyway. you can “coast” for free from your living room sofa. if you want adventure, you’re going to have to go out and find it.

quiet observers do not have adventures.

so there has been understanding, and wisdom and adventure – and there has been renewal. a renewed appreciation for all things wild and wonderful, bright and beautiful. renewed belief in the possibilities of kindness and future. renewed hope for happy endings and goodness. a lightness of heart and optimism which i have missed. it’s so easy to fall into thinking the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

my eyes and heart tell me differently these days.

there has been all this and much more. and even if i never set out to “find myself”, i have tripped over these things along the way. pedazos de corazon, just waiting to be discovered.

5 Responses to “pedazos de corazon”

  1. daddio
    August 31st, 2006 10:51

    wisdom…kind of neat. unfortunately, the gray hair usually accompany it…sorry.

  2. Dave
    August 31st, 2006 18:47

    Great post….!

  3. Avril
    September 1st, 2006 14:32

    Hope for me yet, then.

    Grey hair – Not all the time we’ve got Superdrug, hey Jen.

  4. Mum
    September 2nd, 2006 00:50

    My daughter—the philosopher and author!!Proud of you; love you! Mum

  5. daddio
    September 2nd, 2006 22:39

    these thoughts and feelings are profound..as I said before,when can we go the publishers!!! also said before you two have been an inspiration to me…especially as we really old people with grey hair go off on our trip..thank God for hair color….

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