It’s been a while since we last posted.
The adventures have been continuing and the photos are piling up. I feel a bit guilty we haven’t shared in so long. I’ve used this time to post more photos on our Instagram account, but also I needed a break from sharing outwardly to process what’s happening on the inside.
We have thoroughly been enjoying the Chilean seashore, bright desert landscapes, and incredibly high altitudes. This country and its indigenous people are as beautiful and varied as our United States. The spices and seafood is probably better though…can’t get enough! Each day feels like an amazing gift down here.
Before emarking on this trip I knew there was going to be some sort of personal change I would experience. I hoped it would make me a better person: more educated, more athletic, more wordly, or less materialistic. The journey is faaaar from over (sorry Moms) and I know there is more change to come. It’s really exciting to know that things are changing, I hope it’s all for the better, but that’s not always reality… cooking and hygiene habits…
So what’s up? What’s changed? What’s new? Why have we been so quiet?
(Yes our WIFI connection has been quite bad) But we are starting to experience changes with small things. Things about perspective and priorities of daily life. At least this is what I (Alex) am noticing.
I’ve always tried to be a half-full kind of person, sometimes that can be annoying (those parents with IEP kiddos didn’t always like me telling them, things will get better, look at how well ___ has progressed in ___!)… I’m still optimistic, but now I’ve stopped worrying about whether we can accomplish said thing in a decent amount of time.
Flat tire? No problem, we can hail a local to take us to the nearest Vulcanización. Closed office? Let’s go for a nap and an ice cream. Pouring rain? Let’s find wifi and junk out on Facebook.
It’s as though every problem can wait. Because it can.
I recently left Todd for two weeks and flew to spend some time with my family and was reminded of the stark reality of daily jobs, city commuting, weekly chores, and administrative business in city offices. These things all exist for us in the van (OK, not the daily jobs, but Todd does work intermittently), but I’m learning to not allow these inconsequential things to stress me out anymore. You may look at me and say I’ve become slow going and I’m living in my own world. That’s OK. Because let me ask you-is that not the point of life?
We have been really fortunate to get this time in our life to step back and say: “What’s really happening here??? What should I really focus my energy on?”
I’ve used this time to observe people and consider why people live the way they do. We’ve driven through extremely remote villages on the mystical Carretera Austral and massive metropolises like Valparaiso. It seems like most people in the metropolises just work to get to another goal. And most of them are really unhappy…happiness seems to be closely correlated with city size! The happiest ones have been those that take the time to talk about the weather, those that cherish cooking dinner for their family, those that go slow. And I’ve experienced this when I slow down my pace too.
Family and people should be more important than pay raises and getting to work on time. I know this is easy for me to say, we are young and healthy, out on this amazing journey exploring the world-but you have to work and be in cities sometimes. I still want to go back home, but maybe when we do I want to remember my priorities.
As a neat freak and checklist aficionado, I always want to get things tidy and be ready for the next task. Well, leaving the dishes dirty, piling up the laundry, and staying at a campsite just to read for a half a day has metamorphosed into a great idea. Back home, I was too focused on the future: what’s the next goal I need to accomplish? Groceries, then clean the yard, then get ready for Monday morning. Sure, I’ve been “in the moment” appreciating nature, people, life. But its only been in the last 3 months that I’ve begun to realize that I’m OK just hanging out and seeing what will happen. I’m making the present a priority.
Going with the flow has allowed us to experience cowboy campfires, understand why young guys from Santiago are worried about their country’s future, meet mechanics who don’t charge a peso for 3 hours of work, or see teenagers proud of their Argentinian nation by performing their national dance in front of their entire town. These have been really special experiences.
I’m OK living in my own world. I’m becoming OK with small annoying setbacks and frustrations that slow things down. There tends to be something new that comes out of these frustrating, sometimes embarrassing moments.
There have been many things this trip has been about, decreasing materialism, detachment from social pressures, evaluating career plans, and exploring the world’s richness. But really, it’s been about understanding the people’s culture and understanding what I should make a priority in my world.
Sure, my world is full of hippy-dippyisms right now. Wash your hair with baking soda, pressure cook beans 3 times a week, eat more veggies, and attempt to do yoga. But aside from this hippy-dippy stuff, I’m getting a chance to process how I take the world in and, what am I putting out?
We all think about our legacy, what will I leave behind, will it matter? Who will care?
My recently uncovered truth is that the small daily accomplishments should be my priority and what really matters. I should go rafting because it will excite me. I should write a blog post because I can share something from another hemisphere of the world. I should talk to new people because they might make me smile.
And my favorite small accomplishment, drinking an extra cup of coffee with my husband to talk about why we value our families.
I don’t know my plan for the next week or the next 5 years, but I’ve discovered that my plan for the next 5 minutes should really be to be …in contact with people. Because my perspective on the world is richer and it creates memories when I make going slow and reaching out to others a priority.
So, Peace & Love Dudedettes and Dudes. I’m working on taking my time and connecting with people, it’s been a good change. The old Patagonian saying: “Those who rush waste time.” couldn’t be more fitting.