“You don’t have to travel the world to know the world.”
“You don’t have to travel the world to know the world.” This is such a ZEN/Buddhist way of thinking, and as much as I wished I could live a more “zen” lifestyle, I am neither zen, nor am I Buddhist. The thought of “knowing the world” without actually seeing the world seems very foreign to me.
The first time I traveled outside of the US, I was 16 years old. A small group of high-school kids flew down to Vera Cruz, Mexico, and we worked our way across the country, living with different families along the way. We stopped in various cities and villages, and after a couple of weeks of traveling, we ended up in Acapulco. It was such an eye-opening experience, and I knew at that time that travel would be an important part of my life. I loved experiencing another culture, and I loved seeing how “other” people lived.
I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to travel to places like Calle Ambergris in Belize, Istanbul in Turkey, Agra in India, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Strasbourg in France, the list goes on and on. I also currently live in a foreign country. I am now able to immerse myself in another culture as little or as much as I want.
However, in my visions and dreams of travel, I never envisioned a world-wide pandemic that would cease all traveling. It never occurred to me that I would end up in a place and NOT be able to travel home. I always had visions of having access to my family, my American creature-comforts, and access to my friends.
This past week, I had to make a challenging travel decision. I had devised a plan to get to go back home. I had done research, asked a lot of friends how they did it, and I JUST KNEW that I could do it too!!! I was going home!!! I was picturing 2 weeks of quarantine at my mom’s house, where she and I would lounge around in comfy clothes, and we would talk for hours. We would watch mindless TV together, and we would catch up on all of the “little” things that we have missed from each other’s lives over the past 14 months since we have seen each other.
Then, after quarantine, I would meet up with my sister for thrift store shopping followed by boutique shopping too. Then, my siblings and sister-in-law, and I would drink beer, tell stories, laugh VERY loudly, and we would dream about our future together.
Next, I would hook up with my mother-in-law, and we would do ALL the shopping. I would replace everything from old underwear to old table linens, and we would also find beautiful food and good wine together.
After all of that fun, I would meet up with aunts, uncles, and cousins, friends, and last BUT NOT least, I would have the MOST fun with the little nieces. Spoiling them would bring me so much joy. My nephew may not want to do all of the shopping and shenanigans, but even he could be bought with shoes and steaks. There is no shame in spoiling a junior high boy with shoes and steaks. Basically, I had the MOST AMAZING trip home planned. Then, reality hit like a ton of bricks.
I would have to lie in order to live out that amazing trip. In order to be able to get off Okinawa and back, I would have to submit a letter to senior military leadership stating that someone in my family is gravely ill, or that I had another “important reason to depart the island”, and that is simply not the case. THANK GOD!!!
I am so blessed to have a healthy mama. My siblings and family are healthy. My in-laws remain healthy and active. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and good friends are all healthy. I have prayed and prayed for their health, and they are all healthy. There is no way that I could lie in the letter.
So instead of experiencing that fabulous trip, I will try to sit still here on Okinawa. I will read more books. I will go to book clubs. I will do adventures with friends. I will run. I will snorkel, and I will continue to work on this blog. I will pray, and I will meditate. I will sit, and I will try to remember that “you don’t have to travel the world to know the world,” and you don’t need to travel the world, or even back home to know yourself. I will always know that I live in my TRUTH, and as painful as truth can be: TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.