Now that my work schedule is comfortable and my psyche has had a chance to decompress from what feels like decades of "torture", it's time to start travelling for a larger purpose than myself. I'll still incorporate some fun stuff but there is something I've wanted to do since I was a teenager:
To give back in a more personal way than money. I want to experience viscerally what it is like in true adversity, not the "first world problems" that I contend with here.
Here's what's been on my reading list lately and the subject matter has made my gut feel very uneasy and has negatively affected my sleep.
- Notes From My Travels: Visits with Refugees in Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan and Ecuador -- Angelina Jolie
- I Have Seen The World Begin: Travels Through China, Cambodia and Vietnam -- Carsten Jensen
- First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers -- Loung Ung
- Cambodia Calling: A Memoir From the Frontlines of Humanitarian Aid -- Richard Heinzl
I have to be able to brave heat, bugs, potential disease, cultural shock, mental angst, emotional overload, safety concerns, long transit hours, disease, delays, frustration, potentially appalling levels of hygiene and public health standards, overwhelming sadness and despair...To rise above discomfort and still be productively helpful.
Will I be able to do it? I honestly don't know but I would like to give myself an opportunity to find out. To go beyond my current limitations and open myself to be changed forever. I know I would have lots to offer if I can manage all the noise that comes with a more extreme environment.
Should I discover I don't have what it takes or am truly not cut out for this line of work, then I'll be satisfied with continuing to donate money. But if there is a chance I can adapt and participate with my own hands, I will.
This is the focus of my initial travels for 2014. I'm seeking first to understand so haven't signed up for a solid commitment of any sort, as tempting as it is -- I don't want to let anyone down should I have a "breakdown". I would like time to acclimatize literally and mentally/emotionally.
It will be a challenge as I currently exist in a pretty controlled, clean, safe and manageable environment and it has taken a long time before finally feeling ready to take this on. D will be the first to tell you that I'm not a huge fan of change in my everyday routine. Not to mention mosquitos love me and heat and I have not traditionally gotten along too well.
He'll also add that he simply choses to not go to places where there is so much to deal with but has been surprised with my persistence and how much I've been putting into my preparations. I'm hoping a strong enough purpose will make all the difference.
Until then, I will allow myself to revel in the safety of a country that is at the opposite end of the spectrum. A place where I'm free to wander at my leisure, where spirits will be high. We're returning to Munich to bask in their Christmas Market culture. Back in about 1 1/2 wk.