Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Goodbye Thailand

I have five days left before I leave Thailand. I’m sad, but I’m also excited. I’ve changed quite a bit (I can only imagine what a mission does for people). I’m confident and not as afraid of the world as I’ve been before. My testimony has grown as I’ve learned (or at least scratched the surface of) how the gospel fits into the global spectrum. I’ve stopped obsessing about the future. I’ve learned the value of throwing plans out the window to instead sit and talk with a stranger or to see what’s over the huge bridge I pass everyday.

My friends and I were talking about how it’s going to be weird to text again. I cut into the conversation to point out the benefits of texting and I started to present an argument that I had used several times back home, and one I had completely agreed with, before realizing how absolutely ridiculous it sounded. “Texting is good because sometimes you just need a quick piece of information from someone and you don’t want to have to go through social obligations of saying “Hello” and “How are you doing?”

Ludicrous. The words sounded absolutely ludicrous as I spoke them because here in Thailand the point of life is not the little piece of information…the point of life IS the social "obligation." It's all about the short phone call that ends up being three hours long because your friend needs to work through her break up, or the two minute grocery trip that turns into an hour chat when you realize that the clerk behind the counter has a super interesting life. It's about giving your seat to the grandma, not because you're a gentleman or a girlscout and that's what you do, but because the grandma needs a place to sit. I don’t want to go back because I am just starting to get it! I’m starting to understand what life is really about and I’m afraid that when I go back I’ll slide back into my obsession with accomplishment and forget to balance it with sincere fulfillment. I’m afraid I’ll let my to-do list become my life again instead of using it as a tool within my life. My life is about people, self-development, and God and I’m afraid that I will forget that when I go back home!

…Ha… Except that I guess I’ve forgotten that home is also my life. Thailand has been a great experience, but what I’ve learned here is useless unless I can learn how to implement and internalize it back in the USA. Even though Southeast Asia has amazing qualities, and their social structure is much more conducive towards relaxation and human interaction, America has incredible characteristics as well that help faciliate real relationships and happiness. At times, running away from home may be necessary; it's helped me step back and closely examine myself and where I've come from. But the real challenge, and I guess the whole point of life, is learning to muster the strength and humility required to go back—and not just to go back, but to go back and make it work, to encompass the strengths from both worlds for the purpose of creating a beautiful life, and to do it with the people I love.