Lessons From Planet Earth
I love the way looking back like this after a few years and a few laps around the world highlights just how different our unique and special cultures, homes and people are, yet we all share a common thread. Everyone on Earth smiles and feels pain, we all require food, shelter and love. I believe this to be a necessary commonality to acknowledge in order to see beyond diversity and come together in unity, to live with empathy and compassion for all those on earth.
I’ve been an on again off again backpacker for 15 years but I finally committed full time 3 years ago and counting. Wow, what a long time and so unexpected. I generally travel slow, spending months in some places, weeks in others and only days in a few. I stay until the time is right. I let my inner voice guide me and the wind dictate my pace. I stop to listen, learn and feel fully. It has been an incredible, eye and heart opening experience. I will never be the same, but I would never want to be.
The school of life is best learned through experiential education.
My ultimate and greatest lesson has been compassion, compassion for humans, myself, for creatures and for the Earth itself. To be kind to all living things and to mother nature is to be kind to oneself, for we are truly all united.
This leads me to my greatest reward and that is deep gratitude. I am grateful for every soul that I have encountered, both the amazing life changing individuals and the difficult human encounters for this is where I learned compassion. I am grateful for the mesmerizing bugs, critters and mammals that have made me question the existence of a God and the ones that have left me scared, pained and swollen, for they have taught me empathy. I am grateful for the beauty of this magnificent earth, from it’s peaks to valleys, oceans, rivers and plains, and to the damaging storms, blistering sun, threatening cold, dry, vast deserts because it keeps me humble.
We are not meant to be alone.
I have learned that I am not alone in the world and more so that I do not want to be. Independence a multidimensional concept varying with perspective. Much of the world does not have choice, people do not have free agency of their lives. Many are born into places with no access to higher education, with their life purpose already decided for them, working for the family farm, contributing to the village, the thought never even crossing to leave and to wander, follow the heart in search of other things. No one asks those children what they want to be when they grow up, and yet those children love their families, smile and play. As long as the basic human needs are met, co-dependence is embraced and people feel supported by each other, happiness exists. When governments lead by greed and need for power they steal opportunity from their countries’ people, those people live in a perpetual state of survival mode, simply trying to stay alive, fed, sheltered and too often dodging bombs. They are displaced from homes, separated from loved one, forced to try to survive independently. Within those fissures, despair, depression and hate breed where love, compassion and humanity is lacking.
This brings me to the importance placed on western ideals of independence. As an American, I had spent years trying to fit in, join the club, but it has dawned on me as an unfortunate way to live. It’s as if we are secretly still tying to connect by creating competition against each other. Far too many individuals strive to prove to society their autonomy through independence only to be forgotten in isolation when they are no longer a competing force and therefore no longer contributors to a consumed society. We mistreat and forget the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill and the homeless. I never want to isolate myself from the connections that make us whole, human connection. I’d rather contribute to shift the thinking in those that see it as weak and needy. I’d like to move in the world with embracing love for all humans at all times. Compassion heals.
Love and relationships with people of all kinds are the root of happiness for relationships are the thumb prints of our lives. These are the things that make our individual existence unique, special and worth living for. If we embraced co-working, co-living, co-contributing, co-learning in all aspects of our lives, imagine how uplifting we could be to each other. Instead of seeing a person as the weakest link that person is the link to understanding humility, that none of us are perfect, that we all deserve help.
It is the nature of humans and of the Earth to be in balance.
Not every day is filled with rainbows and sunshine, not every place is beautiful and amazing, not every person is kind and friendly. Travel can be stressful, exhausting and uncooperative.
I have learned tangible lessons on the value of finite things, like water. I have witnessed mother nature unable to provide any more as I have stood in a desert and felt it crack under dehydration. I understood later when the water wasn’t there to brush my teeth, to drink, to wash. And I have experienced what happens at the hands of too many humans taking from under developed and lacking infrastructure as I stood soaped and lathered while rain poured outside feeding into the ocean, yet water from the tap ran dry. I have seen countless, endless seas of plastic water bottles create synthetic horizons. Mounds symbolic of the corporate greed they keep afloat. Water should not be a privilege. No longer a simple act to quench thirst, I can never again take water from a tap without giving thanks first.
I have also seen the great mother spill liquid gold in full force to cause destruction and ruin. From that I have seen people conquer fear in order to come together to help. I have watched humans from all corners forget their prejudice and judgements for the greater good beyond individuality and nationality.
The ultimate and true human condition is love.
While I have been profiled and discriminated against for my race, my gender and my assumed disposition and brought to tears or threatened both verbally and physically, though thankfully never harmed, I have more often been helped, supported and shown mercy when lost, hungry or tired. It has shown across my face when I have reached my limit and I have been picked up off of a floor, given a hand, had my weighted bag carried for me and taken to where I needed to be, left only with a hug and a smile and no expectations. I have been offered a seat amongst packed trains, families already piled at least 4 people more than the seat fits, but they’ve shoved me in none the less to make me feel welcome. Complete strangers, in places where people have little and yet they still offer to share the food they carry for themselves. I have been handed people’s children and chickens, brought into the fold, trusted.
In those moments those people had chosen kindness and in return I found myself faced with the same choice to make. Instead of leading by fear, suspicion, or difference, I’ve allowed myself the gift of leading my choice with openness, acceptance, and gratitude.
The Universe provides.
At times, we all need help. At times, we all have something we can give to help. I have learned how to give without fear that I won’t have enough, that I will run out for myself. Generosity goes both ways. Far too many scenarios have shown me you will be provided exactly what you need. Experiencing that type faith come to fruition so many times is what has allowed me to never fear completing that circle and offering what I can to a situation. Letting go of the attachment to the item, the money, some advice or support, whatever it is that you could offer, allows you to experience abundance in the sense that you actually already have everything that you require and the rest will be provided in due time.
I miss my mom and I miss my friends. That is what my family is made of and sadly, I miss sharing important moments in their lives. This will forever be the hardest part. The biggest sacrifice has been my community and relationships. For me, I’ve learned it’s the only thing that truly matters when it’s all said and done. But I have found friends all over the world, all with their own lessons, truths and love to share way beyond anything I could have ever learned in any other way than to spend actual time with them, in their homes, from their perspectives. My family has extended to borderless extremes alongside my growing acceptance and love for all people in all places. I’ve become a citizen of the world.
We all have our place in this world.
Where you are born does not determine your worth, each life carries value for each life carries love.
I can not stand idly by with my American bred disposition to have free agency and choice of so many things without feeling a responsibility to make the best of everything I have. I feel a responsibility to explore for those who can not wander, to speak for those who are held back, to spread the light from hidden places. Given my ability to be a traveler, it has become clear my place in this world is to relate. I meet so many people, see so many circumstances, it makes it my job to pay attention carefully, to be an objective observer, to gather the lessons, the stories, the beauty and to delve that out into the world as a messenger without judgements or expectations. I do so with care. Through the blog I can share with the intention to inspire, to bring awareness and hopefully unite.
The only thing we can count on is change.
Yes, sometimes I want a familiar bed, a familiar hug, a familiar face. Yes, I am tired of the same three worn shirts I own but sometimes my office is the beach and I wear a bikini all day. I want to walk around my living room naked but for now I live with a revolving door of roommates in dorm rooms. Living out of a backpack can leave much to be desired, but we don’t need much after all. My diet is a steady roller coaster that takes its toll on occasion, but I have shared important, bonding meals also.
No, I won’t wander forever, only as long as I desire to. Travel has taught me to surrender. All is well that ends well and if you go with flow it will end just that way. Everything is just as it should be. People will help you, the universe will provide and you are stronger than you know yet.
Spread some love and happiness today. Embrace our planets many beautiful differences and let us live in harmony. It’s a small world after all and it is a the mercy of our collective consciousness. We are all in this together. No one is better than anyone else. Be kind to you, to all others, to our planet. Be grateful.