I wrote this entry during one of the few times I get a moment of silence alone, on a bus ride through southern Cambodia, and now I’m on a desolate island with almost non-existent wifi, debating on whether or not to even post it. I hesitate only because of how it will be misconstrued… as another “rant” or complaint or attempt to defend myself. Just to clear up any speculation, none of this is directed specifically at anyone who has left a comment on this blog, nor is it a rant in response to anything anyone has said—I’ve never felt personally attacked and have yet to read anything too horrible—I’m just working out my thoughts here, in real time, writing from a place of honesty. I didn’t expect there to be a Part 2 to my last post… I just sat down to write and this is what I ended up with. I know I don’t have to say any of this, but I want to.
In the past, I’d carefully word my posts, making sure only the most agreeable content was published as not to offend anyone or cause a debate. But now I have a different story to tell—one that requires much more from me to share, and also from you as a reader. And in the spirit of taking risks… I’m just going to press publish instead of delete.
First of all, thank you for the responses on my last post. Many of you came out of lurking to leave a positive message, letting me know you are right here along with me with your own inspiring stories, and that means a lot.
I realize my posting has become unstructured and unpredictable recently… which is fitting as it’s an accurate representation of my life right now. Before this trip I’d always craved order and consistency—in my mind it was the most logical approach and it did serve me well in many ways. I thought that structure would reduce stress in my life because I’d have control, but here I’ve been forced to let go of that. And you know what? My stress level is almost nonexistent now, even after being dropped into an unfamiliar and chaotic environment. The way I treat others has changed, my happiness level has never been higher, and even my health has improved. My reactions to unfavorable situations or consequences are different with this new perspective. Asia has taught me that external circumstances are out of my control, and all I can do is react to them to the best of my abilities—by staying positive and remaining present. As long as I don’t lose sight of this, there’s no way to live an unhappy life.
I think my last post has inadvertently opened up a portal to a new approach to this blog. I will still continue to share my traveling stories and experiences, largely because my memory is horrible and I can’t let myself forget any part of this journey. But I’ll also open up and let you in as I try to make sense of what’s stirring beneath the surface. I don’t want this blog to be about me. We’re too attached to our own sense of self which is the source of all of our problems. My life is no more important or significant than any one who has ever existed. It’s what you do with it that matters and this trip has made me more conscious of that. This blog is a personal account of my new life for my own documentation purposes, yes. Perhaps more importantly though, it’s a platform on which new ways of thinking and living can evolve and flourish in a way that we can all learn and grow from. At least, from this point forward, that is my goal.
For the past couple weeks I’d been entirely focused on simply living, trying to process so many thoughts at once and pulled in different directions to the point where I felt stuck and couldn’t find the inspiration to write. And if the inspiration isn’t there, I won’t force it. But a few days ago I finally felt that urge, followed it and started typing out everything that had been jumbled in my mind, begging to be explored and resolved. And by the end of it, I had clarity. Through that post I realized this is how I need to work things out—it’s my form of therapy, and you’re all witnessing it in real time. Some of you are even active participants which is wonderful. I don’t want this blog to be a one-sided affair—we should all be able to help each other. Sharing our experiences and opinions and learning from one another, but this can only be done by letting our guards down and keeping an open mind. We must be willing and ready to change.
I’ve been told to ignore the negative comments, dismiss them as “haters”. In the past I may have been inclined to do that, but that doesn’t work for me anymore. Putting a label on any individual or group of people is not the answer and will only increase the negativity. I truly love connecting with those of you who understand and relate to my journey… but the ones who don’t? That’s who I want to reach the most. It may be an impossible mission, to break down the wall that divides us and build a mutual understanding that leads to positive change, but I will never give up trying. I know it’s possible because I used to be one of those people. I judged others who I didn’t agree with and rather than try to understand their reasoning, I put a label on them because it was much easier. By putting others down it meant I was somehow better than them—instant gratification. I’d unite with people who shared my views and that pack mentality would only compound the negative feelings because it confirmed we were right, they are wrong.
But that temporary satisfaction never lasted and deep down it was unsettling—it adds a weight you can feel both mentally and physically, and I carried that around with me for years. Happiness can’t be born out of a place of hate. We put walls up and create barriers to separate ourselves from what we fear or don’t understand, but has that ever really solved anything? That doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything everyone else does—we all have our own way of thinking and that’s what makes life interesting. However, we can try to understand why they think or feel or act the way they do, and remember that it all comes down to this: we all react to situations in the best possible way we know how. Even if we’re hurting others in the process, there is some more powerful reason that is pushing us to make that choice, and in our minds the pros outweigh the cons. Even if it’s simply an instinctual reaction and we regret it later, in that moment, it is the right decision for us. We’re all just doing the best we can, and my best may not look like your best but it’s all I can do. I think if we all kept this in mind the world would be a more pleasant place. At the very least, it would release the burden of negative feelings we carry towards others. Those weighted thoughts are only bringing ourselves down.
At the Vietnam War museum in Saigon last week I recognized a familiar photograph. A woman was placing a flower down the barrel of a gun pointed towards her, taking a stance against the war and for peace in a beautiful, simple way. I’ve been the one holding the gun on the other side… we all have at some point, but through awareness and a desire to live happier and more fulfilling lives, we can put down our weapons and choose to be that daisy wielding hippie who stands for something better. Or at least our own version of her.
Someone left a comment asking how I’ve dealt with my separation and how it lead me here. That time in my life is when I began journaling, and there’s a lot in those pages. I wanted to share and wish I could, but unfortunately can’t out of respect for the other person and their privacy. But if and when I ever release that memoir… it will all be in there. Because I think it’s important, and I know it could help others in similar situations. For now, all I can do is start from this new life of mine, explain what I’m going through and how I’ve been able to go from place of despair to a greater life than I could imagine. I want this for everybody and will encourage and help in whatever way possible.
I want this to be a place where you are urged to speak up if you feel a reaction to something. There should be an ongoing dialogue with the lines of communication wide open so we have the opportunity to really understand each other’s point of views. That is my goal, and I hope you can be part of this. It’s all just one big experiment… but that’s what life is anyway, right?
I haven’t forgotten to write about my last week in Vietnam… working on that post now so it’s coming very soon. Thanks for sticking with me through these unexpected detours,