Sunday, December 13, 2015

Count down to Europe

On December 18, 2015 we will head to Europe for 4 weeks and experience 4 more countries we have never visited; Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. A few have asked about whether we would still travel with the recent acts of terrorism. The reality is that terrible things and wonderful things happen everyday in every corner of the world. A real tragedy is the actions of a few are being used to vilify entire groups of people and to prevent people from knowing their global neighbours.

"We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us, a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet when we don’t close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama describes two kinds of selfish people: the unwise and the wise. Unwise selfish people think only of themselves, and the result is confusion and pain. Wise people know that the best thing they can do for themselves is to be there for others. As a result, they experience joy.

When we see a woman and her child begging on the street, when we see a man mercilessly beating his terrified dog, when we see a teenager who has been badly beaten or see fear in the eyes of a child, do we turn away because we can’t bear it? Most of us probably do. Someone needs to encourage us not to brush aside what we feel, not to be ashamed of the love and grief it arouses in us, not to be afraid of the pain. Someone needs to encourage us that this soft spot in us could be awakened and that to do this would change our lives." [Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 87-88]

So we will continue to travel; meeting new neighbours, savouring wonderful vegan food, wandering down streets that have seen a million feet, taking photos, soaking up art and architecture, getting lost and found again, and exploring new favourite places.

"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again-to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." Pico Iyer