It’s not that we haven’t had community while we’ve been here, but you can imagine the difference between community with long held friends and the local residents of a foreign country. Two types of community that are both precious and necessary in their own ways. Last week we both greeted and bid farewell to these polarized versions of the same concept. We left La Luna to travel Ecuador with our friends from Arizona. Tears were shed as we said goodbye to La Luna, a place that has played a very special role in our lives. The familial staff of La Luna has become close to us, especially for Rio, who has adopted them as his surrogate aunts, uncles and cousins. The fields and roads and trails of the place have become as familiar as some of our old walks back in the states, and Rio had noticeably gotten comfortable with thinking of our rooms as home. Still, we couldn’t help but feel excited has we jumped in the back of a truck with our friends from AZ to make our way to the bus station. These are friends that we have history and story with, friends with whom we very readily looked foreword to traveling with. We have already created new bazaar and beautiful stories with them since they arrived, and we still get another week together. It really could not be a better transition to our move back to Arizona and gratitude fills our hearts. Gratitude towards being enriched by so many different positive versions of community. I´d have to say humbled as well since it doesn´t seem like there is anything you can do to deserve a positive community. I guess in that way we have had a profound experience with the grace of God.
Breathe in and give thanks, awaken the dawn.
Take a moment, forget your fear and let your heart lead.
Think about the connectedness of all things and if you can see it.
Is it a soul or just the sense of a soul that we hold in this burning vessel?
Feel the rotation of the planet beneath your feet, spinning spinning spinning.
Is it a soul or just the sense of a soul
that is held in this burning vessel?
“Was the shape we see in our lives
there from the beginning?”
Or is it all just carried along by pretty horses and señoritas?
Is it all just fiction fiction fiction?
I guess I´d prefer it was,
written in the sky where the condor flys
protecting us as we walk through the cloud,
over the sierra, into the valley,
following the sendero into forests,
where we find the power of an ancient god,
that gave life to the trees through carbon and fire.
And am I the fire or am I the carbon?
Or are they the same? are we the same
are we the same are we the same?
Walking the road together into a blood red sun,
clouded by smoke that belches forth from the core of the earth.
Wearing ponchos and eating heladitos,
thinking how strange, and how beautiful.
Thinking about the connectedness of all things,
and if we can see it.
And if it is the rotation of the planet underneath the feet
that causes life to circle back around?
Spinning spinning spinning,
following orbital patterns after a fashion of time.
Then the blowing dust interrupts our thoughts.
The wind howls like a wolf,
the only catalyst for change, where the days remain the same.
Darkness and light here, locked in stalemate
wrestling for our hearts.
Wrestling en la frontera de estrellas….
Under their blanket we gaze
upon their light and their truth.
Under their blanket we find our souls,
breathing in and breathing out
breathing in breathing out,
Let’s sit down for a second and discuss, the ever changing momentum and flux, the disparaging yet crucial longing for purpose and reason and sense. In all facets of life we find this dance, this war, this unavoidable melodramatic ballad that leads us to questions we might often rather avoid. Such as: Does the longing for purpose despairingly reveal a lack of purpose? Why does the realization of a dream impose both joy and disappointment? Are our longings and hopes always born with higher expectations then reality can accomplish? Is individual purpose a story already written or are we our own authors?
These questions are like a dimension, a place that once we have found the way, we can continually visit or avoid. Yet, whenever we are there, everything hangs in the balance. Some have found the ability to be present there every day, while others are lucky (or unlucky) if they find it in a lifetime. For others these questions may be invariably forced upon them without any fore sight or aspiration.
What does this discussion have to do with a family travel blog? Everything! “The Wandering” speaks to this very idea of searching and longing. To wander and/or take sabbatical is one way to be present to this dimension of unknowing. Our pastor in Denver recently preached a sermon about how true sabbatical is a rest from the need to be worthy. In other words, it is a place of letting our questions of purpose exist without searching for their answers. This happens when half way through our trip we think “ this is really hard, we should go home”. This is the moment we begin to feel the very strong need that exists to “know” and to be in control. And though it is difficult, if we let grace lead us through, the truth is revealed that, “those who lose themselves shall find themselves”.
Click the following link to hear Nadia’s 10 minute sermon.
It´s an easy trap for new parents to fall into, to think, “we will keep living our life the same way, having a kid isn´t going to slow us down.” It´s honestly a silly notion to think that having a kid isn´t going to change you or the way you live. It´s in our psychology after all, neuroscientists have shown that the adults brain, both male and female, is extremely plastic right after having a child (see: Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth ). So if you are a new or pending parent try to avoid the idea that life will remain the same, it will save you a significant headache. Instead, take the opportunity to embrace change and look forward to new beginnings. Perhaps learn a new language or embrace a new diet, take the opportunity of never sleeping to start reading again. Or, if you are really motivated, completely hijack your life by quitting your job and move your family to a foreign country, somewhere obscure, like a mountain village in South America that nobody has ever heard of. Ok so not your everyday parenting advice right, but why not? Here´s 5 reasons why most people avoid traveling with a kid and five answers to how to make it work:
There are plenty of destinations in the world that have the same health hazards as the US and many developing countries have good health care available for emergency situations. Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia and South America don´t require extra vaccinations and some only do if you visit select areas. Many times if you just avoid the deep jungle there isn´t any risk of contracting a horrible disease. When traveling with your child most of your child’s time is going to be spent directly with you and as a result will have much less of a chance of catching some undesirable bug. 2. It´s Expensive:
I think this is one of the biggest myths about having kids. Babies and infants are not expensive, teenagers are expensive. So if you want travel do it while your kids still travel for free. It´s not impossible to be a budget traveler with kids. Now days there are plenty of options to find a work stay or volunteer opportunity that covers your living expenses (yes even with a kid) while still affording plenty of time to explore. If you get creative you can travel for less cash than an average monthly living expense in the States. Rent out your house on Air B&B, put your car insurance on storage, cancel your cell phone bill and get out of the country! 3. It´s Dangerous:
Yes, actually, it is dangerous. In the words of the great J.R.R. Tolkien “It´s dangerous business, Frodo, stepping out your door.” There will be risks that you have to decide if you are willing to take. How different is this than everyday life? That all depends on the choices you make at home and the choices you make when traveling, but living in a foreign country does not mean living a more dangerous life. 4. It’s too hard:
I am not going to say that traveling with a toddler is easy, but I’m also not going to say that living with a toddler is easy. If you have a toddler then your life is probably more difficult than it has ever been otherwise. Hopefully, the rewards of seeing your child grow and learn energize you enough to balance out the struggle. The same applies for traveling. You will probably have to change the way you travel to accommodate having a toddler. You´re not going to take overnight buses and crash in two dollar hostel rooms like you did with your college buddies. With a child it´s best to pursue quality over quantity and stay in one place longer. But, on the plus side, having a baby in tow tends to break down cultural barriers, allowing you to experience a foreign culture in a much deeper way then was possible before. 5. It´s Irresponsible:
It doesn’t have to be irresponsible. Having a kid often creates a time of transition for a family, if this is the case use the opportunity to take some time off and travel. Take a sabbatical, or extended vacation. Plan it out ahead of time. Put off buying a new car or house for another year and instead invest in traveling. Nothing is more valuable to a family then building strong relationships together, traveling isn’t the only way to do this but it certainly is a good way and worth while the investment if you are willing. Not to mention that it is responsible to expose your child to new cultures, the more of us that are raised with a healthy worldview and understanding the better chance we have at living in a country that upholds social justice and thinks beyond the confines of their own small community Lastly, it isn´t as rare as you may think to travel or backpack with kids. If you are still unsure, start talking about it to your community, you may be surprised at how much support you will find. As someone who was exposed to traveling overseas at a very young age and has now taken his own family on an international adventure, I strongly encourage any young family thinking about traveling out of their home country to pursue their dreams. It won´t be the same with kids and they will probably slow you down, but whoever said that was a bad thing?