There has been a lot of emotional baggage strewn about the lines of this blog the last few days. Trips to and from the depths of the heart have uncovered some neglected pieces of travel-ware and, for that I am both relieved and sorry.
While my baggage claim conveyor belt is still spinning, I would like to take a minute to claim some pieces I don’t mind hauling around with me. You can see them there, not the garbage bags of crap easily forgotten, not the designer bags of fads and whims, but the sturdy, old, vintage numbers with patches and duct tape that have a special kind of comfort attached to them. The loyal ones, if luggage can carry a personality trait like “loyal”.
In all my travels and living in various locales, I have held strictly to the notion that if you make a place comfortable and treat it like your home no matter how short of a stay, you can withstand more, dig deeper and enjoy the days more thoroughly. Holding out because the stay is temporary makes you feel temporary and out of sorts. We were born to connect and connect deeply with the places and people around us.
Sometimes that means finding a favorite coffee shop in your neighborhood. One where they start to remember your face and drink order, has a comfy place to sit, and lets you breathe a bit in the midst of figuring out what life looks like. I, personally, have favorite coffee shops on three continents that I would make a special trek to if I were in the neighborhood.
Sometimes that means taking along things considered impractical at first, but that give you a sense of comfort. On a trip to China/Tibet a few years ago we lugged jars of peanut butter in our packs. While on a long journey into the mountains and deep into the culture, our trusty peanut butter snack brought smiles and eased the stiffness in our weary shoulders. I remember that jar of peanut butter on the six hour bus trip more than I remember the many meals we had in restaurants and homes along the way. (Except for these cold, spicy noodles I still crave.)
Along with coffee and peanut butter there are other things I hope to always take with me: The belief that any place and its people have a gift and beauty of their own. The idea that humans are human beings no matter where the live, how they live or what they believe and, at our deepest, we can connect to each other. The knowledge that in any land there will be those I can relate to, talk to, laugh with and dream with – we barely have to speak the same language, but like minds and hearts are around. The openness that each and every person, place and event can help teach me to be a better person, release me from my known and unknown fears, and help me love more deeply.
I am incredibly grateful that I have a home in Oregon that I am beginning to love. I am grateful that the people at two local coffee shops recognize my face and one knows my drink before I get to the counter. I am thankful that I have found favorite spots to sit and watch the sunset, favorite trails to run and am beginning to recognize the people that come in to my own workplace.
I pray that my time here is well spent, the connections are authentic and lasting and the season or seasons that I remain in the Northwest prove to be fruitful, life-changing and love deepening.
No matter where you are, may you connect deeply and with compassion. It will make the most of your days.
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