In a little over a week we’ll be saying goodbye to the U.S. of A. for a while. JFK to New Delhi is the first leg of our semi-planned-mostly-not-planned trip. The planned parts of the trip are as follows – fly to India, buy some bicycles, and ride them to Vietnam. The unplanned parts are pretty much all of the other details in between. We’re not sure how long the trip will take, but our standard line to those who ask has been six months. We have a one way ticket, so the return could be in 10 months or one.
Some people have been asking what the purpose of the trip is, or even what the “goal” of the trip will be. The questions were sort of a surprise to us because we never framed the trip in those terms – as trying to define a purpose. It just felt like the right thing to do for us. We got thinking about some of those questions and thought it would be important to get a little more clarity on that ourselves before we set out – but we think the “right thing” comes down to a few key points.
I suppose a lot of the rational comes down to doing things outside of our normal daily activity, outside of our comfort zones. The ease with which we are able to live our lives day to day means that big parts of our brains don’t get worked. Problem solving. Negotiation. Planning. All of these things have been slowly atrophying as we go about our lives here. Who knows what kind of insights we might have as we try to get directions in Bengali to the nearest guest house for the night or argue with the border guard to let us in to the country.
Another thing that is extremely important to us is being immersed in another culture and understanding a way of life that we’re not familiar with. I often read about exotic places and follow the news and think of myself as relatively wordly, but being stuck in a place is really the only way to see how people live. I guess it’s what we do with that immersive experience that matters, and I would hope that we can come away from the trip with a better appreciation for people other, a better understanding of how the world works, and enjoyment for seeing the great diversity the world has to offer. Of course it’s important to bring those stories back with us. One piece of advice we received was to be good brand ambassadors of the U.S. when we’re overseas to, “show people that we’re not all assholes.” I think we can do that.
We’re all going to croak soon and we better be doing things we enjoy while we can.
Now we get to focus on the really fun part of the trip – figuring out if we need to have expensive and lousy health insurance in the U.S. to avoid being penalized for not working every day of our lives…