Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Faith in Humanity - Restored!

On this trip I found something I didn't even know I needed or was looking for....a renewal of my faith in human beings. I have a feeling that even just that first line has made my dad already start to cringe (love ya, Pa!). His last words of wisdom before I set out on this journey in October were "Have fun, honey...and DON'T TRUST ANYONE - even for a minute." Wise words (from one of the best people on this planet) to guide his youngest as she set out half way around the world....

At some point (often very quickly), however, taking this advice while traveling becomes impractical. Take landing in a new foreign city like Kathmandu, for example. You leave the airport, get in a taxi and ask them to take you somewhere. You have NO idea where you are, where you're going or if you've even been understood because you don't speak the cab driver's language. The guy could drive in circles for hours and you wouldn't be able to tell because there are no street signs (you couldn't read them if they did exist), no distinct landmarks, no traffic rules and you can't really communicate with him anyway. Granted, you are paying this guy to bring you somewhere so he has some motivation to help you, but you are also putting a level of trust in the fact that he will bring you where you ask despite the fact that he knows you have no clue....

Further on down the road in traveling, the opportunity to put your trust in others comes and goes and to varying extremes. I've found that how I choose to respond to these opportunities and what I use to guide these decisions can make or break my trip. If you've read any entries before this one you know that I rely on my gut, my instinct, the palpable feeling that arises in my belly - to guide such decisions. For me, trusting others all depends on trusting myself.

As I get ready to get on a plane back to the states in just about 36 hours (yikes!), it hit me that one of the greatest things i've learned is that there ARE good people in this world! I knew that, of course, because I have a lot of them in my life - my friends and my family are exceptional - but at times I get down on humanity as a whole and start to doubt if people are generally, by their nature, good. (It's tough to stay enamored with the human race when you look around the world and see such mindless and rampant violence, oppression and harm that we inflict on people and our planet.) What I have been astonished by these last few months is the kindness of strangers who had no motivation for their kindness except just this: to be kind.

The examples from the past few months are endless, but here's a recent one. A few days ago I traveled to a town on the coast of eastern Bali and stayed at a bungalow that had been recommended by a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend I met in Bali (friend 4 times removed :-)) ...The afternoon I arrived I was sitting on the patio of the place watching the sun set over the ocean and eating a mango (idyllic, i know!) when a Balinese couple with a baby came up and asked if I was Chris...Ends up that my friend 4 times removed (who I had met the day before, mind you) had called these friends (= my friend 5 times removed) and asked that they drop in on me and see how I was. I was floored... but it doesn't stop there. The next day (which happened to be Christmas - not much of an event in this Hindu country) they came to get me and the husband and his 9 year old son took me trekking through gorgeous rice fields, pristine forest and a few small villages. We hiked for a few hours from where we got dropped off and ended up back in their village - one of the last truly traditional villages in Bali - where my new friends work as basket weavers and artists. They fed me an amazing homemade lunch despite clearly not having that much themselves and insisted that I take fruit and food with me when i left. They were generous with their time, their resources and their love. Although our communication via words was somewhat limited, I could truly feel that this was not an inconvenience or an act of obligation...it seemed they just couldn't imagine acting any other way and were happy to share with a complete stranger. Although it's just coincidence that this happened on Christmas, it sure seems like a real manifestation of the Christmas spirit.

This day is certainly one of the highlights of an incredible trip and is just one example of the abundance which I've encountered over the past few months. People, most who have less than I do (less in terms of material things only - most of them are wealthy beyond belief in love, faith, family and spirit), have been extremely generous with their time, their talents, kind words, a helping hand, smiles, love, hugs and so much more...Even just writing about this has made me so overwhelmed with gratitude and has reinstilled in me a belief in the generosity and overall goodness of the human spirit...just another lesson that traveling and being open has taught me...

One last thing - for my dad and all you other naysayers - I want to reassure you, I'm not naive and I realize there are still bad people in this world - lots of them. My new-found belief in human beings isn't blinding and it doesn't mean I'm going to run into the middle of New York City at 3 am with a wad of cash and expect that something bad won't happen. What it does mean is that at times (I know when it's right if I really listen) I have to open up and take a leap of faith if I'm going to receive the incredible gifts the universe has waiting for me...otherwise I risk missing out on beautiful interactions and experiences that make traveling and everyday life truly fantastic.

love, light and faith

1 comment:

  1. I loved the story! It reminds me of my time in Cuba and the family there that opened their doors with out a question, with out knowing us and with out bounderies. Not all humans are bad, although as you clearly pointed out we sure can F$*^ things up on this perfect planet. It is a beautiful thing when people give freely as your new friends did and even more beautiful is a person who fully understands this rarity and shares it back with others - "Ripples Make Waves" :)

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