Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All Things Begin Somewhere

Quiet, Pacific Northwest night. The first crisp of fall is present and outside there is a damp chill in the air. Sitting inside and listening to the hum of the refrigerator, I’m trying to formulate words to describe how I feel at the beginning of a 6-11 month trip. Flying up to Seattle to spend a few days with friends has felt more like a normal, weekend visit than the beginning of some saga-like adventure. I like that. I like the emphasis on the present moment more than the preoccupation with the unknown future.

Tomorrow morning I meet up with my NOLS Mountaineering group, ushering in the next five weeks of new friends and the glacial ice of the Himalayas. I’ll be back in contact with the outside world during the second week of October. After that, there are countries I’d like to visit, but my plans are more oriented in how I’d like to interact with the world than an itinerary that I feel obligated to keep. I do know that I’ll be in Asia until the end of January and then flying to Argentina on January 24th, 2010.

If I could sum up the purpose of my trip, I’d borrow author Salmon Rushdie’s words: “To understand just one life, you have to swallow the whole world.” I’m setting out to swallow - to taste, touch, feel, see, and ponder - the world. Not to quantify or qualify people or cultures, but to seek understanding and communication between people. As I see more of how others live, I can only hope that it will help me understand “one life” - my life - more fully and the lives of the people from the worlds of Colorado, Wheaton College, and Los Angeles that I’ve loved and inhabited. Here I go.