To get to the center you have to go to the edge.
The backpacker inside of me wants to see it all, the philanthropist wants to help all who I encounter along the way, the prophet wants to share the learned truths, and the cynic wonders if any of it matters in the first place. Thus the quandary I often find myself in.
To clear up a point, yes I think it does matter, I think it matters a lot. But in the midst of personal evolution, I wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to go back to my old way of thinking. After 9 weeks in Ethiopia and Somaliland, I realize that the reason my system still feels so out of whack is because a lot of my previous beliefs about life, the universe, and everything have radically changed.
Perception is an interesting thing. No two are ever alike yet collectively, we share beliefs and ideas about things we still aren’t able to tangibly define. I think we are alive during a very interesting moment in history. As our world becomes smaller and smaller and as information and perspectives become easier to identify and discern, we are truly beginning to bridge the gap between the individual and the collective. We are seeing that some of these long held beliefs no longer hold as much weight as they once did. We are discovering that there are new ways to experience reality, a reality that many of us never new existed in the first place. We are beginning to shed some of our fears. Who knows, maybe we’re growing up.
Our experiences shape our perceptions and our perceptions shape who we are and who we become. The more we challenge our perception of reality the more opportunity we have to experience a new reality. Now let me say straight away, that you don’t have to go to Ethiopia to challenge your perceptions (though you could – and in turn come home seriously fucking challenged). My point is, reality awaits to be challenged in every corner of the world, including our own.
Every time I return home from a trip I am always surprised how easily I am able to slip back into the comfort of “being home.” No longer am I challenged to pay attention to body language, because everyone speaks English. The shower is hot when I want it to be, turning on a light switch won’t electrocute me, there are parks to relax in, there is one car per lane, no cows per road, and thus less need to be actively involved in the present to get through my day. In the world of convenience of which we live, we must find time to interact with our reality in a way that is challenging, in a way that helps us to evolve.
Returning home, I am inspired by people my age who are taking action on a local level. They have challenged their beliefs, at home or abroad, and are returning to the community with lessons learned and a curriculum in place. I challenge all of us to seek out these individuals, to become these individuals. Let us implement changing ideas for a changing world. Challenging your own reality in a positive way has repercussions that ripple across the community, the country, the planet.