“One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
The biggest adventure we ever planned for and one that we spent years saving for is now complete. We spent almost exactly 2.5 year overseas, 2 years volunteering with the Peace Corps and then 5 months traveling in 10 countries. I’m sad it’s over, but excited for adventures ahead.
Josh and I hope to blog more about our travels over the next few months as we settle back into American life. It was difficult to keep up with blogging while experiencing our new environments and we were on the go quite a bit.
While we were living and traveling overseas, I marveled, questioned and observed other cultures and ways of life. In doing this, I have been able notice many things that make me appreciate my own country and culture more than I did before. Here’s a short list:
Safe & clean drinkable water from the tap, dishwashers, high pressure faucets, vacuums, water fountains, steam mops, smoke free restaurants, hot showers, carpet, fixed prices, schistosomiasis-free bodies of water,free drinking water at restaurants, super fast wifi, tissues, thick tissues, paper towels, ATMs everywhere, national parks, guardrails, clean(ish) air, ambulances, well-organized queues, metered taxis, school buses, public parks with swings, school buses, washers, dryers, garbage disposals, a hard work ethic, entrepreneurs, well ventilated sewage systems, free entertainment, beautifully landscaped lawns, couches, public bathrooms, dog parks, garden stores, cash registers, concerts, sprinklers, sweater shavers, easy to find trash cans, western food, costumes, museums, bike lanes, cars with seatbelts, free water in restaurants, customer service, street cleaning, traffic laws and regulations, vans with passenger limits, coffee shops, hot showers, rooms with multiple power outlets, flush toilets, free trail hiking, pets with collars, water fountains, sidewalks, strollers, sewage systems, cashiers who can always make change, free bread at restaurants, paved roads with few potholes, street signs, street lights, appointments & reservations, toilet paper holders, street names, free toilet paper in public bathrooms, pens aplenty as if they grow on trees, well-marked hiking trails, “pack it in, pack it out”, public libraries, speed limits, servers who bring checks promptly, professional sports, credit card acceptance at all places, custom food orders, grass, baby car seats, pretty fences, drawers, garbage pick-up, hot showers, incredibly fast Internet, The Bill of Rights, free wifi everywhere, malaria and dengue fever-free mosquitoes, car pollution standards, theater plays, safe & efficient public transport, free soap in public bathrooms, recycling centers, tape dispensers, A/C, instant hot showers, freedom, free speech, our Declaration of Independence (when I taught a lesson on the 4th of July this always choked me up), choices, choices, choices, convenience and variety.
There were also many things that I remember that I DON’T like about American life. Our attachment to materialism, our rushed life, how we take things for granted. The USA has done things I’m proud of but many things I’m not proud of. Our country isn’t perfect. We are coming home at a time when mass shootings are at their height and we have presidential candidates who use hate as their platform to win.
When we were in a particular country and I’d marvel at the beautiful sites before us, I’d remark out loud “Oh! My! Gosh! So beautiful.” And locals would say in one way or another, “Yeah, but it’s just home.” I get it – we take for granted what’s always been right before our eyes.
My new resolve is try my best to see my home with new eyes for what it is – the privilege to live here, the beauty around us, the ease and abundance we have in our daily lives.
I know that from now on but especially this holiday season when I go to use the sink, open a cupboard or fridge toppling with food, sleep in my temperature controlled home, admire the aesthetics of mine and others homes, get in a safe car, throw my trash in a dustbin, throw my toilet paper in the toilet bowl, walk, bike or drive on a paved road, climb the safe stairs in a tall building, etc, etc., Etc,. I’ll be reminded that I’m one of the lucky ones. That’s not to say everyone wants to switch places with us. Our complicated, distracted world is not for everyone.
We live daily with an abundance of riches and celebrations. And as we reenter the USA, I’ve got a whole new appreciation of them.
Happy Holidays from us to you!