Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The internal and the external journey

I have been having a hard time writing on this blog lately. My mind has been preoccupied with a lot of things and I haven't been able to focus enough to create an isolated blog entry.

First off, Brian and I have decided to come home the first week of June to the states. There are many reasons for this, but namely finances, a desire to spend some time and money on myself to develop a new career, and also we are a bit travel weary and feel like we would get more out of visiting Europe refreshed and with a bit more money at some point in the future. We also miss our friends, family and cat very much and want to be reunited.

We have also decided that we will be moving to Tucson, AZ a few months after we return home to be closer to Brian's family, and to experience a new and warmer place for a while.

So knowing now the endpoint, and where we will be headed after we return home, something has shifted inside of me. It is comforting, but also distracting. And for the first time in a long time, I am thinking about money and the need to make it. This is unfortunate. Oh if we could all live in a blissful state of satisfied needs without the concern of monetary support. I listened to a TED talk recently (a brilliant non-profit designed to share riveting and inspirational ideas) by a woman named Rachel Botsman on the case for collaborative consumption. What she focused on in her talk has been much of what has been in my thoughts on this trip. The idea that there needs to be a seismic shift in how we consume goods and resources for our species to survive, and that this shift can actually be cool and much better then the way we have been going about things. Sharing resources instead of owning one of everything, particularly when you may use an item only once or twice a month (or year) like a lawnmower, drill, or even a car, makes absolute sense! And it brings people closer together, builds stronger communities, and shifts our focus onto more important matters, instead of how to make more and more money.

Many of the non-Western cultures I am experiencing on this trip do this already. They share everything, often it is because they have very little, but this sharing is moving to see and seems so incredibly natural. I am grateful that there is impetus now for our Westernized culture to make drastic changes back to these sort of tribal communities of support and sustenance. And technology is affording us all sorts of ways now to share goods in ways we never imagined before. Check out swaptree, a site that offers free swapping of just about everything for free. And this is just the beginning. Think about a world where each community has a "goods library" where you can "check out" things you need instead of owning everything. Better for the planet, better for your wallet, and better for your peace of mind.

So Brian and I took an incredible bike tour through Hoi An with a lovely Vietnamese guide named Vinh who ended up giving us a private tour because no one else signed up.

At one point we visited this very special Buddhist temple (pictures above) and he talked to us for a long time about what Buddhism means to him. He described the idea of this "absolute zero" in that each of us own absolutely nothing. Everything we experience or think we possess is completely borrowed, even our lives. Ownership does not exist, the only thing we possess completely is our soul. Broadening that spiritual outlook to our daily lives with each other in this global community, I feel absolutely the same way. No one "owns" any piece of this universe and what it provides for us, we are all guests sharing this beautiful and bountiful place together. We need to be respectful guests, tidy guests, and grateful guests. And we need to realize that we are not the only guests, there are millions and millions of other guests we need to be respectful of as well.

Our lives are not vacuums. We touch every other life on this planet by the decisions we make every day. There is so much still to learn about how to be the best guest, but I love that so many of us are really trying. I really believe we are.

But back to the title of this blog. I have had the good fortune to dedicate time almost every day of this trip to yoga and meditation. And it is changing me. And it is amazing how there are still so many ways to grow and learn and evolve as a human being even after living so many years already. And I feel like there are always new ways to bring more joy and more peace into our lives.


  1. WEll said Katie. When you and Brian go to Europe, set up jobs first. Then, travel about, as time and funds dictate.

  2. Hi Katie (and Brian),
    I just wanted to check in and thank you for sharing the many levels of your journey. You are such a gift. I'm sure making the decision to come home in June was a difficult one but it sounds like you are at peace with it. May the last weeks of your travels continue to be transformational.