Published: January 15th 2006September 28th 2005
Hi, For those of you who don't have the patience to read my thoughts after traveling for half a year, I published pictures of me and how I (and mainly my hair) have changed over this period. For those who want to know more of what happened to me over this period - there is also the text...
A lot has happened during the long period that passed since I boarded a plane, left it all behind, and went to the east. The trip was not planned ahead since originally I was supposed to go for only five weeks, but one thing led to another and it is already six months that I am living out of a backpack.
Many things have happened, both in the world I left behind and in the new world I discovered. People I met, places I saw, events that took place around me and to me, countless experiences... And from home - news, silences, surprises, and disappointments.
I have learned a lot during this time about myself, about life, about the world, and about my place in it. It is true that these lines are being written a while after the actual date, but the
principles of this blog entry were running in my head way back when i decided to summarize the first half year of my trip.
This time of my life can be easily called "The Chinese Period", but this is not what I want to write about. This is why there is a separate entry for the summary of China.
The new things that became clear to me during this period are related to three issues: happiness, patience, and friendship. Not surprisingly - they also relate to each other. Patience
, for those who know me, is not something that describes me too well. I want things fast, now, my way, and if it doesn't work out that way I am not happy. In life I learned that it is natural that sometimes I am not happy about things at work or at other places, but during the trip it bothered me that I am not happy, because you are supposed to enjoy every minute of your vacation. I realized that my impatience is a cause for many of these situations. The Chinese mentality is opposite to the the "right here right now" mentality, and many times I found myself upset about
things. Patience, in Chinese writing, is composed of two words - dagger and heart. Meaning - patience is sticking a dagger in the heart. The more I thought about it the more I realized how ingenious this allegory is. I will not elaborate on my thoughts of why. I will let each one realize it for himself.
So I realized that patience is a very important skill in order to be happier, by achieving peace of mind and remaining calm. I learned, little by little, to be a little more patient, to wait, to let things roll in their own natural pace. There is no movie of a "master" and "apprentice" which doesn't discuss patience as a tool of reaching your goals. Be it a young Jedi, a karate kid, a young cop, or whatever - they always have to be patient in order to be successful. "Let the answer reveal itself" like I learned to to and found a way to reach Tibet without being too upset about the Chinese authorities or fighting their system.
I hope I will be able to keep on developing this ability and to preserve it in real life situations as well. Friendship
a very strong thing. Somebody once told me to count the number of people I can call without hesitation in case I got stuck in 3 A.M. with my car 3 hours away from home, knowing they will come and rescue me with no questions asked. "These are your real friends," he said. Luckily, the list was respectfully long enough.
When I went away I didn't imagine to myself how big is the test I am putting all my relationships through. I left without any idea of the length of this trip and therefore without a chance of proper preparation or even talking to my friends about my long absence period. The physical distance, the little communication, and the totally different experiences we were having made it hard. And at the same time - I felt that I need the connection with home more than ever.
Traveling alone in a distant and strange country is not an easy thing to do. There is nobody to be excited with when you see or experience amazing things, and at the same time there is nobody to share with when you are disappointed or when you hit a bump on the road. Many
many people went into and out of my life during this time. I have a notebook full of email addresses of people I will probably never see again. "Single serving friends" as they are described in the movie Fight Club
. Friends who shared with me strong experiences, but as described in one book I read on this trip (ARBA'A BATIM VE-GA'AGUA
) - after being my best friends for a week I didn't bother waking up in 5 A.M. to say goodbye before they boarded a train in the opposite direction... The number of travel-friends I am still in touch with can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and I believe that with time it will go even lower.
With all that in the background, it is understood why the friends from home, the real
friends, were so important for me. But there were surprises over there as well. Both for the better and for the worse.
There are some people that the great distance from them made us very close. Maybe because being physically close meant working together, and our working environment was a poisonous one. I was surprised to find several close friends that I didn't appreciate
properly while back at home.
On the other side of the field there are friends who disappeared. Some of them all the way into thin air, some of them write a short "what's up" mail every few months. I know that there is work, there are spouses, there are new kids arriving, but the fact remains the same - the test of time and distance was too hard and this relationship failed... At the beginning I was hurt when it happened. Later I understood and accepted. Eventually, like the evolution, the fittest survive, and those who don't - just don't. Today I think of it in a similar way - I lost the weak friendships I had to free my time and space for new friends. Maybe the new relationships will be of high quality and will last, and maybe not - and they will disappear as well later...
And last - happiness
. Happiness is everything. All the rest are tools to get there. This is the goal. It is not easy to pinpoint what exactly will make you happy. Many times it looks as if the things you need to do in order to be happy will hurt yourself
or people you care about, will make you divert away from the "right way" and will therefore make you less happy in the future. But looking inside eventually leads to answers. You can understand what is more important to yourself, what is higher in priority, what will make you happy
. Then all the rest will loose its importance. Eventually - nobody else will take care of your own happiness if you don't take care of it yourself.
If it means developing missing abilities and practice them, or make some huge steps in a direction that supposedly hurt your safe future, or hurt the people you love (who will probably will be hurt more if you give up on your happiness and take it out on them) - eventually you must do what has to be done in order to be happy. As soon as you realize what you really want, and do it, you reach some sort of peace of mind with the consequences - both the prices and the happiness that follows...
I know I sound like an old Zen book of good advise for good life, but this is maybe the reason I am writing it down
and put it in a place where everybody can read it. It is a kind of a testimony, and you are all my witnesses. A kind of a promise, or a statement, for myself to remember. You will remind it to me - weather it will be with your cynical responses to it, or better yet by reminding me these things when I divert from it, which will probably happen after returning to reality.
Either way - each reminder will put me back in this point in time, when i believe in everything i wrote...
There are more photos below