Flying away from Mumbai, I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I’ve missed something important in our travels in Southeast Asia, and in particular our travels in India.
- I didn’t set up any businesses
- I didn’t aggressively act on many of the ideas and opportunities that I saw around me
- I worried too much about spending money on things which would have big expense to ship home to the US (so I didn’t purchase them)
- I spent too much time worried about getting Internet access (which is admittedly important and was more limited than I’d expected)
- I wasted too much time feeling slighted by people who were charging me more because of the color of my skin
But I’d like to choose instead to focus on what did happen on our first travel through Southeast Asia.
Being internationalized these past few months in a part of the world that (was very different and) is considered by most Americans to be very foreign, I can safely say that I would do it all again.
What I am most excited about from our time here is the relationships we have built and the relationships we’ve deepened.
- Life is about what you choose to do and how you let that affect you.
- What you choose to do is affected by who you are
- Who you are comes from what you’ve learned and decided to accept into your self-image
- What you have learned and accepted about yourself has come from the people and information you have spent the most time with
What has made the time of our travels most worthwhile has been the people we’ve met in Southeast Asia. They’ve helped us learn about ourselves by teaching us about who they are.
And that’s something I am proud of, both their generosity and welcoming nature to us, and our ability to accept their generosity despite the discomfort it took to get there or the discomfort we experienced on arrival.
For most people (Americans especially), travel is a “once-in-a-lifetime” kind of thing. For the majority of people, travel is about seeing places like the Petronus towers of Kuala Lumpur, the beaches of Bali, the Taj Mahal of India.
Show up, take the picture, move along.
But in that kind of tourism, you have an impact on a place (mostly though the trash and cash you leave behind), instead of letting a place have an impact on you.
Of course we’ve gone and done the “snap the photo” and move along attractions, which we’ve loved. But what will make the biggest difference in our lives, and in the lives of people around the world, are the connections we’ve been fortunate enough to make with people who have welcomed us into their lives.
We’ve been able to be in one place long enough, and been welcomed openly enough, to truly become a part of several families, even if only for a short time.
In many places, this has meant that people have welcomed us into their homes, either for a meal or for a multi-night stay.
From these experiences and connections, we know that we’ve built foundations in many countries. The true challenge for us now is to build something worthwhile and truly lasting on top of these foundations, growing these relationships even though we’re far away in proximity.
For all the generosity and kindness we’ve been shown, we also know that we have a lot of paying it forward to do.
For us, this isn’t “once-in-a-lifetime”, but something that’s part of our lifetime, together.
Building and growing these relationships is something we’ll continue to work on for the rest of our lives.
We’re honored to continue to share our travels with you through this site, and hope to continue to grow our relationship with you as we continue to travel the world.
And about the things I’ve missed – I don’t consider these things a failure. I consider them things that I haven’t acted on and/or done something with… yet.