Many years ago, I nervously boarded a giant plane for my first trip to visit a third world country – Rwanda. I was excited, but at the same time held some fear and trepidation – purely based on my angst of the unknown. I was accompanied by friends, so I felt comforted in having my support group, and we plunged forward – directly in to the most remote and rural areas, definitely not your tourist destinations. We stayed in the homes of local families, drank warm milk with elders while kids from an orphanage peered over our shoulders, and kicked soccer balls made from garbage around a field with local children. The experience changed my life on so many levels, but the most patent of all has been the cultivation of my own humility and tolerance.
I also realized that conveniences we take for granted as “better”, and assume should be commonplace for ALL people, are sometimes a double-edged sword. When I pity the villagers that have to walk a mile each morning to collect water for their families, I overlook the fact that they walk this mile together – laughing, talking, and communing in ways that we often neglect to do. Which is more valuable? Convenient water or depth in social connection? Modern studies have shown that one of the secrets to a long and healthy life is richness of family and community involvement. Maybe I’m the one who needs to change.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
When I returned home from my recent trip to Thailand, and wearily settled down in my comfy space-age cushioned bed – after 30+ hours of travel, Clare shared an article she had just read. It was an interview with Blake Mycoskie (founder of Tom’s Shoes). He has a tattoo on his arm that says, “For One Another”. It comes from his realization that, “When I’m home, I’m focusing on my issues, my problems. But when you’re traveling, you have to engage with people – it gets you more in that ‘for one another’ mind-set.”
Though my eyes were heavy and nearing lockdown, this thought sparked one last realization as I faded off to sleep – traveling and engaging people on their terms, in their environment, creates tolerance and peace in the world. Good night.
I was already dreaming of my next adventure.
Here is a small collection of images from Thailand. I hope you’ll consider traveling with me, or other friends and loved ones, someday soon. I lead workshops for all types of adventurers and we have 3 on our schedule for this coming year: New Zealand photo workshop for photography lovers, MotoPhoto Italy for motorcycle riders with a passion for photography, and Workshops with Purpose will be returning to Thailand this November for photo/video graphers who want to use their skills to assist a non-profit.
Please contact me if you have questions and I’d appreciate you sharing the info. Thank you!
Special thanks to Rachel Goble from The Freedom Story for inviting us to work with them, and my bud, Benjamin Edwards, for trusting me to help him tell their story. And, of course, Japa Lifu, my safe and friendly motorcycle guide 🙂