Let me know if you’ve experienced this: You go out with an acquaintance/friend/someone, you spend some time around them and you leave telling yourself: “Wow, they have so much wrong them, it explodes onto me when I’m around them,” “They need to work on themselves, because they always bring the mood down,” or maybe even “Spending time with them is always draining”?
Whether it comes from a judgmental place, or becoming more aware of those you allow around you, you can be honest here, we’ve all felt that at one time or another.
Much to my surprise, and delight, I recently experienced the opposite.
I recently started on an epic journey! Touring New Zealand relying on wits, the generosity of people and the grace of God. So far it’s taken me from one suburb of Auckland to another. My journey of 1,000 miles began with a 15 min drive to a new house down the road!
On this journey, I’ve been praying for some things:
1. For peace and protection while I travel around. These are generally nice things to pray for.
2. For people to travel with. I’ve traveled to about 20 countries, let me tell you, the best memories come when you have people by your side.
3. To be open to life changing and big conversations. I don’t want to shy away from those who want to have conversations about faith, death, sexuality, family, or whatever is on their mind. Strangers can make great conversationists and you never know when a conversation can change you.
Recently on this journey, I met another traveler willing to take a chance on getting in a car with a stranger. Together, we hiked, toured some cities, and drank wine on an island. It was a good way to start my road trip.
Before the traveler joined me, I mentioned to them. “Naturally, I’m an introvert. So, there may be times when I just need to be alone or walk away from everything and just recharge in my room. Take the time to do whatever you’d like. Don’t feel bad that I want to be away from you, it’s not you, I just appreciate my solitude.
They admitted they felt the same and would also let me know when they needed to be reading a book in a corner or walk to the nearest cafe to sit alone. It was a great conversation, we made our boundaries and desires known, and we were on our way
Side note #1: learn to set boundaries in your life. Set them with friends, family, and strangers. Hold to them. It’s worth it. Also, respect others’ boundaries.
After spending quite a bit of time with this individual, I noticed something. I didn’t feel the need to escape to the safety of my solitude. My time alone often includes my exploring the distant corners and thoughts of my mind. Yet, around this person, I was ever present.
Toward the end of the time I spent with them, I had a moment where I felt healthy. I was not drained by this time with spent around a stranger. I wasn’t seeking asylum under the covers in the arms of my bed. I was happy to simply exist where I was. It felt healthy.
Funny that I felt “healthy” because previous to this moment, I didn’t feel sick.
Side note #2: I think sometimes we get so used to being sick/in pain/tired we forget what healthiness looks like in specific situations of our life. It’s common for me not to realize I’m experiencing normal human things. (I say ‘human’ as if i’m not one.) Nevertheless, at the end of my days, you can often hear me ask myself, “Did I eat today?” Hunger is a human feeling that can often slip my mind.
Pain, on the other hand, that is hard to go unnoticed. Despite how commonly I’ve experienced it in my life, each ounce of it is an uncomfortable gut wrench that is both unfamiliar and familiar at the same time, each time. Yet despite this discomfort, we make pain comfortable and sit in it. Why do we endure? well, that’s a post for a different day
As I spent time around this stranger I noticed I felt better. Not better about myself because I judged their life choices. Not better because they finally left me alone. I felt like a healthier person after interacting with them. Each of us have felt what I described earlier, the drain of spending time with certain persons. But do many of us have a person that can help reenergize us? Maybe I’ve felt it before, maybe I just haven’t recognized it.
This time I did.
It’s as if the time I spent traveling was actually me checking into rehab, completing the 12 step program, and walking out the other side a burden removed from my shoulders. I was walking with a burden added without me recognizing.
*cue the music* i’m walking on sunshine ohhhh, ohhhh, and it makes me feel good, yeah, alright*
I sincerely hope I can be a person like that to others, while on this trip, and in my daily life.
I will say, one of the most curious things about suddenly feeling healthy, is not wanting to leave it. I find that the problem with getting healthy, is that when you’re finally 100%, you start to like it. You’re reminded that this is the person you like to be. You’re reminded that you’ve gone through some stuff and though you survived it, going through it takes it’s toll. Over time, most things in life do.
Once we’re healthy, we’re left with knowing we must go back through the grind, ever taking its toll on us. And whether it’s in the back of our minds, or at the forefront of thought, within ourselves we know we’ll slowly shrink away from 100%. It may be steps each day that lowers us to 99, then 98, then 97. Or we may go through a free fall down to 60.
So then why do leave the safety of 100? Why escape the safety of being separate from that which takes its toll.
Why don’t we stay in the place we can consistently be connected to what charges us and not brave the world of hurt people. After all, it is the people who are hurt who hurt people. It’s a cycle of pain that we progress ourselves.
Sometimes intentionally, other times on accident.
One of the wonderful things about facts, is that when a fact is true, often the opposite is true. If hurt people, hurt people, then loved people, love people.
It took me a while to see it this way. But this individual who helped me was well loved on their own and therefore capable of spreading their love
To slightly break myself out of my introvert mold and be more balanced, I told myself “if you see something you like, you have to say something.” Its simple, but effective.
I’ll complement a fresh haircut of a stranger. I’ll thank the bus driver for driving modestly (which doesn’t happen often, most bus drivers drive like it’s their last day on the job and they need to get to the next stop as fast as possible.). I’ll let a person know I like their art. It’s a small moment that can change a person’s day for the better.
I caught myself walking down the street of the Central Business District in Auckland. Within a group of people there was one person I admired. As usual, I couldn’t remember his name, but I stepped in front of him anyways and said, “Hey bud, we met months ago. You’re a photographer, I saw your work, it’s great stuff. Keep up the good work.” Immediately, I turned to walk away, I did my part and said I like something to the person who created it and was going about my business.
As I departed, he turned around and to me, “Thanks bro. You made my day, man!”
If a hurt person can ruin an entire day with only a few choice words, then a loved person can make someone’s day with a few choice words.
For me, this was just a simple walk to the grocery store. The first one since leaving my traveling friend. I was walking healthy down the streets of Auckland. As a loved person, I was able to love people. Continuing a cycle of love that can only be progressed through our actions.
That is why we leave our place of 100. Because there are people who need little encouragements, who need burdens removed from their shoulders, even if just for a moment. We leave our place of 100, to help others get to their 100. When we’re loved, then we have the love to give.
I’m glad I got healthy at the beginning of my epic road trip.