Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's worth it to get stung by jellyfish every once in a while

"Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you... hopefully... you leave something good behind"  -Anthony Bourdain

I want to share a few different things that I hope have a strong connection when compiled together. Yesterday was my birthday and on Facebook and through different medias I received an incredible amount of greetings from people across the globe. There have been years in the past where when it came to the middle of June I would take my birthday off of Facebook so that most people wouldn't remember when it occurred. There were always the ones that did remember but not the 100+ that is often found on the annual date. As I would get online and check things yesterday it was a great reassurance that I am loved. It's not the grandest gesture, but those three words "Happy Birthday Josh" reminded me that I am good at relationships.

Last week I visited a mall here in Durban. I was on mission to find, tennis shoes, laundry detergent, some food, and possibly a book to read. When I walked into a bookstore store it was simply because I saw that they were selling books. It wasn't till after I took a wide sweep of the store and saw all kinds of religious things advertised that I realized that it was a Christian store. As I looked around I quickly remembered that there were two books coming for me in the mail and it probably wasn't in the budget to be buying more books but I decided to look for a small devotional book because I'll be sharing every week with the Food Services team and it's always nice to have a consistent theme when sharing with a crowd. As I was looking around I came across the book Scary Close by Donald Miller.

Earlier this week I was on Facebook seeing how different people are. Going from one profile to the next the secretly looking into the life of people I haven't kept in contact with. It's probably pretty safe to say I'm not the only one that does it. There's one guy it's like a scavenger hunt to see what's going on. You know, that friend from the past that unfriended you after something didn't go down the best way possible. The best friend you had and now you're living separate lives and you still hope that they're doing great. Something big in life happens and you wish they were there but they don't want to be part of your life. Well, he proposed to his girlfriend and is engaged to get married. It was exciting to see and unfortunate knowing that there's so much about him that I don't know anymore.

Now I had already determined that I didn't need to buy a book for myself, but there it was. A book I had read before, started reading again, and unfortunately left in the seat pocket of a plane more than a year ago. In fact I shared a portion of it on the blog before. So there I was, holding this book. A book that I had already read but wanted to read again. Over the last year I looked for it onboard to see if anybody had their own copy but the only versions were on e-readers. I flipped it over to check the price and fortunately it was only 160 Rand, like ten dollars. Of course I had to buy it after wanting to re-read it for so long.
In summary; bought it, read it, started reading again, lost it, looked for it, couldn't find it, bought it a second time, and currently rereading it. If you're wondering, yes I would recommend it.

This past field service in Madagascar I think I had the same conversation about twenty times. Probably with only about 5 different people, but one that has an ability to chip away at those walls like they're a master craftsman. Boundaries, why do I keep the walls of my life up so high? Sure I seem to know a lot of people, but how many people actually know me? I'll listen to a friend when they need, but how often do I let a friend listen to what's going on in my life? It seems that I'm the master of short nondescript answers. Yup, ok, yeah, no, kinda, nice, mmhm. That's the extend to what I let out most of the time. People are knocking on my door wanting to know how I'm doing or what I'm up to and they get probably the shortest answer possible.

Thursday morning I was reading Scary Close. If you read the other blog I posted about lessons learned by jumping into a pond you read that:
"To be intimate I'd have to jump" "Then it occurred to me what it was. I wasn't afraid to jump in or swim or to feel the sudden coolness of the water. I was afraid of change.
This time it was the third lesson that hit home:
For the most part, people aren't out to get you.

At some point, I just stopped trusting people. Distrust brings out the worst in people. Am I willing to be hurt occasionally and turn the other cheek on order to have long-term, healthy relationships?
Don was asked about his preferred swimming location; pool, lake or ocean. His response was lake, because in  the ocean you have to deal with jellyfish, seaweed, sharks and whatever else. But his friend responded that the ocean was their preferred place. Saying that "It's worth it to get stung by jellyfish every once in a while. For the occasional sting, you get to go to sleep feeling the waves and you get to giggle with your cousins." At that moment he realized that trying not to get stung by jellyfish is part of the adventure.
To risk yourself in love. It means diving into the unknown, where there are very real dangers, but mostly rewards.

The stories began to collide when I started to actualize that my friend and I taking different paths eight years ago continues to effect me. People aren't out to get me. Distrust brings out the worst in any future relationships. Am I willing to be hurt occasionally and turn the other cheek on order to have long-term, healthy relationships? I have to be willing to get stung by jellyfish to get enjoy the adventure. 

Found from a random Facebook post

We were inseparable. No one would’ve expected it to go this way, but that’s okay. You helped me through awkward, tough, and uncomfortable times. You were my rock, when I needed stability and my laugh when I was crying. Thank you for being you. You are genuine, kind, and selfless.
But, I’m sorry. I’m sorry we grew apart. We used to mesh so well, but we lost our synchronization so randomly. One day we were laughing at our constant inside jokes and the next we weren’t prioritizing our friendship. But, I don’t have any hostile feelings.
You were the best part of my past. I will look back on our friendship and hope my kids have a friend like I had in you.
Our memories used to sting, but now I enjoy going through the countless pictures. You are so cool and I wish you the best. We both have gone down separate paths, but we’re positively thriving. Keep doing your thing!
I can’t even refer to you as an ex-best friend because that’s far from the truth. We are simply best friends who drifted. I’ll consider you a friend forever though. So no matter the time that passes, if you ever need anything just know I’ll always be here.
I may not understand your facial expressions anymore and I may not be the person you tell everything to anymore, but that’s okay. I had my time in that position and now someone else will be blessed with you.
You had such a positive impact on me when I needed it most. I’m so thankful you were part of that chapter of my life. Without you, I wouldn’t have made it through some of the most horrendous school days.
Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the ridiculous pictures. Thank you for the endless photoshoots. Thank you for providing me with a second family. Thank you for your support. Thank you always for being my best friend.

One last thing to share with my friends that have embarked on the journey known as "life- post the Africa Mercy" Don't forget what you've experienced. It's part of who you are.
What you’re experiencing are the dreaded, and very real post-travel blues. During your adventures you’ve seen too much, experienced too much, been opened up to new cultures and new ways of living. And there’s no going back from that. Your mind has been opened. Your vision has been refreshed, your passion for the world and it’s inhabitants re-ignited, or even discovered. You are an entirely new person. And that is the biggest, and coolest gift travel can give you.