Waking up to the call to prayer in the early light of day is really something. So is watching hundreds of monks collecting alms in their brilliant orange robes, a quiet ritual that elevates the senses. Having private salsa lessons in your living room, sharing an exchange with the rice cakes lady at the corner market, taking your shoes off before entering any interior, eating fresh fish and couscous offered by a neighbor, and riding a bicycle with the view of the Mediterranean are all experiences very high in life value.
These and countless other things have filled my life living overseas the past 11 years. Sometimes it seems there are no drawbacks to living this way. But, there is a cost. An experience like this could not be entirely free. Something is given up.
I’ve had many conversations with others and myself (this usually happens when I’m riding a bike) around this concept of what we give up in any given chosen situation. At this moment as we weigh our options here in Laos, what comes up for me most is the incredible cost of missing family and friends. This has gone on for years! In some ways I feel plagued with this dual need of being in California and abroad. For the sake of simplicity, I wish I was someone who felt strongly drawn in one direction. The fact that I’ve had this split need has been limiting.
I lack being present. I lack genuine gratitude. In the longing of the “other” reality, I miss out.
Recently in sharing this with a friend, she offered: Maybe you are simply a person who needs both. What? Is that just it? I’ve been hard on myself all this time for not leaning more to one side than another…disappointed that I wasn’t clear on that. Well, what if I’m just someone who finds equal value in both realities? Does that make me greedy or a lost soul? Maybe. But, maybe it makes me fortunate, lucky to have such opportunities, a richness in life.
It all comes down to acceptance. Relish in the moments that nurture the heart. Carry that around.
(photos courtesy of my sister; model: my niece, Naya Lucia}