Erica & Matt Chua: The Passage of Time

I always marveled at the way time sped up and slowed down while we were traveling.  A few days could easily feel like a century and a few weeks in a new country could in retrospect seem like only a couple days.  It seems that the mystery of time has caught up with me again as I realize we have been back “home” for six months.  The blog has gone silent and the trip feels like decades ago rather than just half a year.  What have I been doing and why haven’t I written?

The short answer is catching my breath, and pinching myself (did this all really happen?).

The long answer is, processing.  I have been decompressing from the rush of the last three years. During our travels, we packed up our bags and moved every three to four days. So, it has been quite an adjustment to be in one place for the last six months. As we catch up with friends and family it’s hard to explain the lapse of time and all that has happened in our lives and theirs.

Reconnecting with friends and family after so much time away is the best part of being back. Me and my brother as we biked 300 miles across our home state of Minnesota just one week after I returned home.

I often yearn for my traveling life, I miss the extreme freedom, the anonymity and the constantly changing tomorrows with an unknown around every corner. However, operating in my native language, having a comfortable bed to sleep in with a
refrigerator of familiar food in the next room is not a bad trade off. What I miss most from the road is the child like wonder and excitement in achieving even the smallest of goals.

Perhaps never again in life will getting on the right bus or receiving the dish you thought you had ordered be considered a victory. However, when you are navigating in a foreign language and have little to get your bearings these small achievements are the equivalent of winning the lottery. It’s also possible that never again will an 18 hour bus ride be as fascinating and eye-opening as it was when we were on the road. The prospect of a new place when the bus stopped often made the time pass much faster.

Without these experiences on a daily basis I spend much of my time wondering “what’s next”, but also celebrating our journey.  Time is once again playing tricks on me as I try to stay in the present moment, but seem to be caught in processing the past and planning for the future.  A wise friend of mine, whom lived abroad, shared the following with me as I prepared to come home, I couldn’t have possibly known at the time how true her words were:

“The question you will be asking yourself after your return will become “what would my life be like if I hadn’t done what I did?” We can only imagine … I’ve done it dozens of times, but only with true appreciation that I actually did step out of the mold and do something different. Your life will be so rich because of it … and you will enjoy the memories for the rest of your lives.”

I share these same words with you to remind you that no matter how you pass your time, you will always be glad that you lived life on your terms by making conscious decisions and chasing your dreams rather than by looking back and regretting what you did with that time.


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