When I began my journey to Southeast Asia I was filled with ecstasy. I firmly believe that what ever gene predisposes you to the desire to travel is not only present inside of me, but has caused some mutations. My desires to travel were laced with excitement for a change in scenery to the ability to expand my global knowledge. What I did not prepare myself for was that the trip would be incredibly humbling and have a lasting effect on the rest of my life. I did not know that in the attempt to unplug and dive into the culture abroad, I would reenter my life back in the state with a similar disconnect.
From the beginning of the trip visiting young entrepreneurs to the end of the trip witnessing water bring people to life, my typical line of thought was morphed and molded into a mindset that I’ve remained in, still three weeks post trip. Speaking with James and Tyler injected me with the urge to be a go-getter. They left me feeling like there’s absolutely no excuse and that even in the worst of times, the situation could always be worse. You have to seize what you’re made of, harness your abilities, and put them into action. That attitude bled through the rest of the trip. As we visited social enterprises in Vientam and Cambodia, like STREETS International, Reaching Out, and Angkor Artisans, I was immediately confronted by my thoughts to expand. However, I also picked apart the pieces of all of the enterprises we visited and said, “Okay. This is great, but what would make it better?” When we arrived in Pnohm Penh, that attitude turned into frustration
There was much to harness, much to seize. Yet, what I was presenting was a level of disgust and frustration with humanity. I like to think that those feelings were grounding. So far on the trip we’d been visiting places that have created responses to the risky problems of poverty, and were successful. Now, we were being reminded that things don’t always work out and there is much left to address. That sentiment remained on the rest of the trip. As we traveled to Svey Rieng I noticed that the risky problems had spread like wildfire. A nation, stained by the atrocities instilled by their own government, people with broken walls of trust, now had to rebuild themselves. Naturally, the first reaction is to want to help.
Western mindset sees a problem searches for a solution. We have the contrasting monochronic mindset needed in a polychronic world. As the world is ever-changing and constantly influenced by outside forces, operating on a system that looks at point A and asks how to get to point B only leaves you clueless, reckless, and ineffective. We, as citizens of the planet, need to not be so shallow minded. We need to know that there’s more out there than just ourselves, that there’s more than just your county, your state, and your country. We need to constantly asking question, searching to build relationships, be willing to adapt, and be open to new ideas.
If you enter a travel journey with as open of a mind as you can possibly pry, if you don’t ever settle for certainty, if you don’t try to travel or certain why or maintain expectations, you will have a greater impact on yourself and those around you. I don’t want to sound like an expert on the matter, but I do want to stress that in my travels I managed to disconnect from life back home. What that has left me with is the inability to reconnect in the way that I was was. My values and attitudes were shifted and realized that I didn’t travel to escape life, but for life not to escape me. Don’t let it escape. Don’t fall in the rut of routine, you will only regret the choices you didn’t make and the opportunities you didn’t grasp.
An anonymous person once said, “Life begins just past your comfort zone.” So be uncomfortable. Try new things and challenge yourself not to see new things but to see things with different eyes.