My journal is nearly filled, I realized the other day, flipping through pages and pages of slanting lines of hand-written text. Three short months. That’s how long it takes to fill a journal, I suppose. The dense thicket of words made me feel old and I browsed them curiously to peek at who I was three short months ago. I was sometimes scared and sometimes brave. I was sometimes cool but mostly a mess of thoughts and feelings all crumpled into the person I’ve…always been.
Then how do I feel so old? How do my feet feel so tired and my clothes so worn? The long, pretty white skirt that used to be my husband’s favorite has now been chopped off into a short one for lack of a better solution to the curry stains at the bottom. The jeans that lasted 6 years in my closet are next to rags now after just three short months on the road. I feel like I’ve seen so much since that day I flew out of JFK, but the feeling of wisdom that comes with it is false. I still walk by the women and children begging on the streets and find myself at a loss of how to respond. I pay a cheap toll of a few Baht to satisfy the unsettled feeling they stir up in my conscience. I want to talk to the children. Play with them and make them forget that they live on the street. But they don’t know English. Why didn’t I do this in the States where we spoke the same language? Will I do it when I’m back? Do I really need language or is that my current excuse? The same. It still troubles me and fills me with shame.
I still don’t know how love works. I don’t know when to quit talking and I don’t know what Jesus meant when He said “be completely humble and gentle.” I know what humble means…but I don’t know how much “completely” is?
I still don’t know where to go to feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by the beauty of nature. I don’t know how to escape being a tourist and I don’t know how “Google Images” madeThailand look so pristine and undisturbed by Tuk Tuks, travel agencies, and massage pavilions.
How did I wear so many holes into my jeans, burn through a pair of shoes, and tone the muscles of my back without also gaining some wisdom along the way?
I put my journal back down on the table and note a small criticism about it being a scattered read with some potentially good character development but without much of a plot.
Perhaps I’m aiming for the wrong thing if I’m aiming for wisdom. Perhaps it’s like every professor used to say on the first day of class . “If you leave with answers I taught you nothing. You should leave with questions instead.” After a few hundred times it just made me roll my eyes, but maybe there’s something to it. Maybe learning to love well, travel well, and serve well isn’t about learning what to do so much as allowing the right kind of puzzlement. Maybe conclusions aren’t the point. Pursuits are the point.
That’s what I thought three months ago. Now I’m back to that.