After the trip I feel very different. It a two part thing. The internal part is like I left a big piece of myself behind in Asia after living life so simply for a few weeks and the external part is like I came back with a new set of eyes.
For the external first, what my "new eyes" see:
I loved the simple ways of eating, transportation, lifestyle and slower pace of the days in Asia. The communities of people living their lives connected to the streets, to the bustle, to the crowds, to the transportation, to the dirt. I saw life in Asia as really being filled with human connection and that being the priority.
New eyes back in the US see that stuff is the priority and substance of life here. The "ticky-tacky houses" row after row when we are arriving to the airport in Chicago. I just wonder how much stuff is inside all of those. And who are those people connected to? It feels sparse, in the space of there bing lots of stuff.
Coming back, the US feels somehow artificial. It’s as though I see a lack of that spark of life that brings the chaos and smelliness and colorful variety to the places we were. The blandness feels fake. At the same time I also am so thankful for the order and organization and level of cleanliness that we have in the US. Being without those things after being so accustomed to them after years of life was a real exercise in adaptability that left me different.
It feels like such a different life day-to-day and people around me really can't understand what I have just been experiencing in Asia.
Which is where I turn to the second way I feel different: like a different person inside
I lost an old way of being or many of the pieces of what mad the identity of who I used to be.
It’s such an interesting feeling. Freeing. I am unconstrained by how I identified myself before.
It's also de-stabilizing, or untethered. Certainty anchors successfully dropped. Thank you Sarah Wilson.
Going without. This trip a an exercise in without. Without in the physical world gave rise to "anything" being the alternative. A real freedom and adaptability and newfound freedom to choose.
What does your bath towel look like? I know my mom's yellow fluffy towel. My uncle' monogrammed tan towel. Justin's white tattered edge towel. Jon's blue ribbed towel. Hayley's striped towel. These are all pieces of identity because of their role as forms of our daily experience.
Without a towel.....who am I? Any towel.
Without a kitchen who am I as a meal? Any food I encounter.
Without a cup who am I as a drink? Any cup.
Without a bed to call my own? Any flat surface and something to cover with.
Without expectations of how to dress? Any outfit.
These experiences were freeing more so than rattling. Providing a lightness and an openness and a sense of newness.
Then I got a virus. And I went without my usual internal experiences.
Without motivation....who am I? No one.
Without drive..... No one.
Without joy..... No one.
Without excitement.... No one.
Without health? Lost!
The experience of loosing the quality based experiences of my mind that are typically present on a daily basis was really disturbing. It brought up a lot of fears and a lot of internal questioning. I felt lost and confused and uncertain.
It was a beautiful lesson though, because when I went without in the physical world I was free. But when I went without in the internal world, I was nothing.
I think that's a great experience if you can ever find a way to get there. Feeling your nothing-ness is powerful. It's big. It's empty.
From there we build. From there we come back. From there I go forward.