Sunday, April 13, 2008
A Travel Journal and a Lesson
Be careful what you wish for....
Lessons in loving are being cast my way...this time it took the shape of my brother.
I spent the weekend reconnecting with him after his three month trip through Africa. He came back to us a changed person. How could you not, really? He knew that he would be consistently facing the well-meaning question "How was your trip?" and how do you give a short answer to that question after you've had a life-altering, soul-evolving experience in a beautiful land so far from home? Personally, I wouldn't have been content with a condensed version of his experience, and what I ultimately received from him was deeply moving. He put his travel journal in my hands and asked me to read it.
My brother is a "live life large or you will waste it" kind of guy. He thrives on adventure, a good dose of adrenaline, and a certain amount of risk. This is what makes his world go round. He lives life outwardly and wants to absorb everything he can out of his experiences. So when I opened his journal, I expected to read a good adventure story ~ close calls with charging hippos, near misses with protective mother lions, interesting culinary affairs, bungee jumping off the highest platform in the world (which he did...surprise, surprise). He told many great adventure stories, but what really grabbed me was the stories between the stories...I was able to catch a glimpse into his inner workings, his growth, his insights...the deep stuff...the things most important to him. I saw a side of my brother I have never seen before, perhaps even a side HE has never seen before he embarked on this amazing journey.
I read this beautiful journal, and sat alone in silence for a long while afterward. I felt such incredible love for him. Trying to sum up how my brother and I relate to each other in a short paragraph is just as absurd as trying to tell someone you met on the street how your trip to Africa went. We are two very different peas from the same pod. To put it very simply, he lives mostly on the outside, I dwell mostly on the inside. Many times we have rolled our eyes at each other because we just don't "get" each other. But we have been great teachers to one other throughout our lives....no one has taught me more about myself than he has. No one has challenged me to really learn to love myself more than he has. To be trusted with such a personal account of his experience brought us closer together than I ever could have imagined. I was able to put away the judgements I had been carrying and see the truth of him. What a gift, and a powerful lesson.
I was hoping to put a picture of a baby elephant at the top of this post. Although I haven't seen it yet, he did get a picture for me...he sat in the grass one afternoon and had lunch with them! All trunks and ears...how sweet...I can't wait to see!