With our summer family adventure coming to a close, where does that leave us? Within a week we will be back into the same routine, settled comfortably into our normal life. But what is a normal life? For some of the people we have seen on this trip, normal life is waking up on the street in pain, getting your begging bowl in front of you, and sitting at the steps of the subway station asking for money. For others, it is waking up in a monastery, putting on your orange robe then spending your day in meditation. Others yet will wake up, have breakfast, drive to their job in an office, work hard, then come home at the end of the day and spend time with their family. The point is, a “normal life” is simply what you choose to do on a regular basis, and is the result of many past decisions you have made, your circumstances in life and, in no small part, some measure of luck or chance.
As an adult, I have tried to make my normal life as interesting and as varied as possible and strove to make decisions that would enable me to keep doing new and interesting things. When I met Ana I realized she had many of the same values as me so we were able to partner up and continue on with living a varied and colourful life. When the kids came along, we knew right away that we wanted to pass these values onto them, and that is what we have tried to do since they were infants, so this latest endeavor is just the latest (though probably grandest!) in a long series of smaller decisions we have made to pursue this goal.
When traveling through other countries, you get to see and experience so many things that force you to question and re-evaluate your own convictions. There are things that are done better in Canada than in Asia, but the opposite also holds true. In Canada, we over-regulate everything. We allow and even encourage people to shirk personal responsibility and let them blame the “system” for all their problems. We make concessions that give priority to personal beliefs instead of the common good. Small interest groups drive public policy and politicians cave in instead of making the tough, right decisions and sticking up for Regular Joe who simply doesn’t want to cause any trouble. We don’t just tolerate other cultures and religions – we often allow ourselves to be held hostage by them at the expense of the public.. And we tolerate so much stupidity and small mindedness instead of using common sense and simply saying “No” sometimes.
But we do get a lot of things right in Canada, and that is why Canada is where we choose to live, raise our children and call home. But travel is a big part of our lives, and I expect that our “normal” will always include spending a significant part of our time exploring other places, learning from them, and bringing those lessons home to help make Canada a better place. And other people should do that to – especially those in roles that determine public policy so that they can see there are many different ways of getting to the same end goal.
See you on the other side.