Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Can't Believe You're Still Reading This...

Hi there! Enough people said "You're such a great writer, you should blog more!" that I got guilted/flattered into another entry. If you're reading this, you really deserve another entry since you've been so faithful or accidentally made it your home page and don't know how to change it.

Last entry was March 31st. Feels almost like a lifetime ago. A lifetime of flights and humidity and being more used to traveling and living in other places than being home. It makes coming home really sweet and really hard.

We bummed around in Belize for a few more days with Reade and Lisa, made our way back to Honduras to collect our belongings and say goodbye to some new great friends, and hopped a plane for Portland. We spent the last few days of our trip figuring out the details of renting a place from out of the country (ask me about my criminal record sometime - our landlords did!). We originally swore we wouldn't rent a place sight unseen, but we really needed a place to land and although friends were kind enough to put us up, we wanted a home.

That's where I'm writing this from, and it seems ridiculous now. I can look out over the Willamette River and see the Steel Bridge from my window, my iMac is happily purring in front of me and I just finished making some sun dried tomato pesto. Life is really good, but somehow feels artificial after what we've seen and experienced. I can't think of a way to make you feel it, but strong words like heartsickness or heaviness are a couple that come to mind when I taste the disparity between here and there. It's good that as Americans we have blessed lives, are free, get to choose our government and our clothes and our cars but ... but...

I think Don Miller is on to something when he muses about what it would be like for aliens to land on Earth and evaluate our existence without pretense. He sums it up by saying that our defining characteristic is that we're constantly comparing ourselves to one another, and it's the cause of all our strife, pain, economic hardship and success. I chew on that for a while and then can't figure out whether to be sad for the neglected people in neglected countries or for ourselves.

The flip side is that opportunity is born out of these things. Opportunity for reconciliation, opportunity to help change places like Central America, opportunity for ourselves to be changed in the process. I suppose one of the most difficult and eye-opening things we've learned traveling and living is to question things we used to take for granted. Funny things like obeying stop signs or diamond engagement rings or engagement at all don't necessarily exist everywhere and it makes you stop and think about how much "normal" we've created all around us - even in Portland.

So what now? Emily is back in school, her "what now" is pretty cut-and-dried (at least for the next four years). My "what now" scares me a little bit, but I'm ready to face down those questions like "How do I help the world?" and "How can you be lazy and make money at the same time?" We're wrestling with the American dream right now, and odds are in our favor.

On the side, don't take this entry as a condemnation of yours or anyone else's lifestyle. Think of it more like the part in the Matrix where Neo wakes up outside the Matrix for the first time and reacts by barfing. It's just a lot to take in right now.

One more thing - we really like it when people ask us about our trip, or how we've changed, or what's going on in our lives and really mean it. It's hard, there have been scores of times where I didn't ask someone else because it was too big to tackle over the noise of a game on TV or other distractions, but we feel like it's a gesture of wanting to know us and our hearts better. So ask away, don't tell us you read it on the blog, and our friendship will grow deeper.