Oct 11, 2015

What are you thankful for?

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder
than one closed by belief.

What are we thankful for?

Being 'home' for a short while, away gaining new understanding and knowledge through our travels has helped answer this question more clearly. It is too easy to lose track of the good in life. We are thankful to have the freedom to do what we want to do. Right now that want is traveling / sailing but it could be anything from gardening to writing.

Coming back to the U.S. has confirmed that notion as we witnessed how many more people barely make enough to feed and shelter themselves, leaving nothing extra to spend on something interesting like an enlightening learning experience or the simple unencumbered sharing of fun times with family and friends. The pundits want us to believe there is little inflation but we feel sticker shock every time we buy basics. Rather than progressively being lulled by gradual price increases, we skipped nearly four years of history and it comes as a painful sudden realization. Wages not keeping up adds to growing gaps in the ability to save, the only way to attain a little of any freedom...

Fewer Americans than ever take vacations due to fear of losing their jobs or lack of money. What has the U.S. become? Certainly no longer the Land-of-the-Great except for the lucky few. It is sad to see how fewer and fewer choices the next generations (our kids and grandkids) have compare to what we had. We understand the powers-that-be like it that way since it doesn't allow their 'minions' time to think and question what they are doing, why they live that life or research the possibility of a better way.

What is harder yet is meeting so many people from other countries who want to emulate us! Why oh why??? We seemingly prefer what they have, they want what we are running away from. They mostly see the money and glamor, not understanding the true costs involved. We feel the urgency to visit other cultures before they get swallowed by consumerism, sameness, lack of empathy, unwillingness to explore, just 'happy' with the pathetic status quo.

While exchanging ideas with foreigners, we often times try to expose the ugliness beneath that thin veneer but are as unsuccessful as telling a kid not to touch something that is hot. They have to touch and burn themselves in order to learn and understand hot. Thankfully we have met more and more who are returning to their country no longer buying into the 'American Dream'. Most do it so their kids have a more reasonable and compassionate upbringing.

Many travelers speak of reverse culture shock upon their return after any length of time away from their homeland. Being aware of, as well as understanding that phenomenon, doesn't make it any easier nor less frustrating. How quickly we want to return to exploring the world once we set foot back here. Our own culture now betraying what we have become to know, like and desire of a happier and healthier life.

Interactions with people are generally much shallower. Money, fame, and how one is perceived seem to be all that is meaningful - corporations have trained people well. Politicians are the puppets of same corporations or banks intent on keeping it all to themselves while destroying our future, the Earth, pitting people against one another, forgetting that ultimately, we are ALL connected.

Maybe the fact that we are very aware of everything we use since we make it ourselves and have limited capacity: water via reverse osmosis, electricity via solar, transportation via kayaks or wind, and cooking our food from scratch is making us more in-tune, more aware of the ease to waste when these are done for you: turn on the tap, plug into the grid, get fast food, pump gas and go... This nice article relays fairly well what we experience sailing but from a very different perspective.

What has kept us semi-sane while attending to some business was the ability to visit a few dear friends and family and read blogs from fellow travelers, living through their travails, discoveries, questions, epiphanies, breakthroughs, etc. Although we have seen, read and noticed the burnout that happens after traveling a while, it is always interesting to find out how everyone is coping with it. Some stay longer in one place. Some go home for a while. Some do volunteer work, still discovering while helping, a welcome change of pace. Some take time to learn the language, etc. Thank you for being our beacons of hope whether on land or water...

We came home for a while. Although unplanned and not because of burn out it still gave us the opportunity to reaffirm our love of traveling, meeting new people, experiencing new languages, cultures, and cuisine. We feel we will focus even more on enjoying the moment when again, traipsing around the world.

So yes, we are very thankful to have the freedom to soon return to our adventures and see other cultures and places, appreciating how much more humane and fulfilling many of their ways usually are. We cannot wait to be back in a land where everyone enthusiastically says "Hello" when you walk by rather than being glued to some type of screen or hiding behind loud music or sunglasses. Where people are happy to help or share their lives or stories with you. Where time is Not money. Where life is more important than materialistic endeavors. Where most folks live a very low carbon footprint lifestyle, even if by default, thankful of everything Mother Nature has to offer while leaving some for others.

An article we read titled 10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America really rings true to folks who had the chance to view other parts of the world while locals who have not had that opportunity decry its content. It may help you understand what we see now that we've had a chance to 'escape' and interpret the U.S. from different and broader viewpoints.

Just before we got back to the U.S. I read that someone returning home after several years abroad tested just how long it would take for someone to say hello and look them in the eyes. The verdict was 20 minutes! I doubted that number when I read the article but have since come to see that it is sadly true. So many people completely disconnecting...

Time to get off the soapbox...

Time to go reconnect...

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