The Long Way Home…

Home.

I’ve been calling this trip the long way home since my sister and I decided to go to New Zealand and I decided to, well, take the long way home.  Referring to my trip as the long way home really got me thinking about what home really is…because I need to be very honest, I didn’t really “miss” home.

Perhaps it was because I was looking forward to each stop on this journey.

Dreaming & Doing

Perhaps it is because I practice trying to live in the present moment. I practice respecting my past and preparing for my future but I live in the only moment we can truly control – the present.  I did a pretty good job of that during this journey and I think that helped with happiness along the way.

Enjoying the Moment

Overall, only once did I have a yearning to be somewhere other than where I was.

It was not to be home though.  Not in the sense we think of as home. That comfortable place we return to each night filled with our things or family whom we love. It was to be in Kansas City however, which is my home town.  I checked Facebook one day while at a tea house in Lijang, China and saw a lot of really good friends checked in at a shitty bar in a shitty neighborhood in Kansas City for a Rusted Root concert.  Seemed like a fun night to be in Kansas City…because it would be fun to be with friends.

Dudes

Once this hit I pinched myself real hard, thought about my wonderful friends and reminded myself that I was in China and I should probably go eat something…there were only 12 days left in China at this point and there was a lot left to eat. Not only was there a lot left to eat it was at this point I realized I hadn’t really missed home at all.  I had the feeling of home almost the whole time.  And it really was for the same reason I wanted to be in Kansas City that evening – this whole trip felt great because I was surrounded by wonderful people – surrounded by friends. Friends both new and old.

Sweet & Sour Thumbs Up

New Zealand was home because I shared almost 3 weeks with my beautiful sister and friend Amber.  WHAT AN AWESOME ROAD TRIP!  Thank you Sister!  (And thank you Arnott for the Honey Comb Tim Tams. I still think about those when I feel like having a sweet.)

Brother & Sister

Thailand – See California

Rook Top

Bhutan was home not just because of the kind people but because of people like Namgyal, my guide.  Not only did he guide my tour of Bhutan but he opened his life to making a client a friend and that made my time in Bhutan even better.  We are now email pen pals. (No, Namgyal is not pictured below.  These are some friends I made along the way.)

VIP Style

Nepal, for some reason, I always feel pretty good in Nepal just overall even though this country can be dirty, chaotic and just crazy at times. This trip included a week with a beautiful cross-section of humanity who just wanted to climb some rocks.  Perfect strangers to friends in less than 5 days.  Thank you to my friends in the Hardcore Nepal group for your fast friendship and patience with this newbie.

Good People - Good Times

China. While isolation ruled the 3 weeks of travel across this fascinating country, ending those 3 weeks with a fraternity brother I have known since 1998 and who has lived in China for the past 6 years really made for a perfect end to China.  Kirby, thanks for the good times and for refreshing a weary traveler.   I met many many travelers along the way in China as well, too many to list but to the wonderful, the normal, the odd, the communist, the professional and the stoned I shared time with over dinners, drinks, on walks or on trains – thanks for taking the time to travel and sharing your stories.

 

Even in the freezing plains of Monoglia, I found a bit of home in a Ger shared with a Canadian, a Dutch and an Italian. Justin, Neeltshe and Emilio, I would love to meet you guys on the road again.  I think we would have a hell of a time in Africa – Emilio and I just need to bring a date next time.

Genghis Kahn!

Russia and the Trans-Siberian train.  Even though I got to hang out with big bird and pig pen…Talking with the spine surgeon about life in Russia and sharing a Carlsberg with a man who had already had too many made it fun.  A highlight of any trip has to be the drunken conversations had in two separate languages where neither of us knows the others language but somehow seem to understand what the other is really saying. The “Me” time was too good to not mention again and for all of that, there was a bit of home on this long…long…way to Europe.

Italy – Milan is like a second home in general having spent 6 months of my life there in 2001 and it was nice to be back in that wonderful city. (Yep, this is a picture from Rome…I went there too so it is ok to use it.)

Saints!

Ireland – The first country I had been to in 3.5 months where a language I could usually understand was readily spoken – thats always going to feel like home. This picture pretty much sums up my three days in Dublin…

Ireland

New York City – I cannot say enough how much I appreciated the welcoming party I received in New York.  If I had to apply a best friend label to two people in my life, Toby and Jake certainly earn that title and it was an absolute pleasure returning to the USA to share a night of amazing food and drink with two people I love – Thank you Gentlemen.

NYC 2012

Virgin Islands.  Home on a 50 foot catamaran shared with 9 other people, sleeping in tiny hole in the bow of the ship and using a toilet as confusingly unique (small) as most Americans would find a squat toilet?  That was home.  The 9 other people on that boat were a group of people I love as friends and it was amazingly refreshing to spend so much time, in close quarters, with a wonderful group of friends.  (In an incredibly beautiful location.)  Thank you!  Big thanks to my buddy Drew too – he wasn’t on the boat but lives on St. John and a night with him and the locals was a great way to start a 10 days in the Caribbean.

Sailing Crew of the "Yolo"

 

Thailand & California I shared with a person whom I called my wife for the past 9 years.  This is the part of my journey which I know has confused many people who know me/us and have been following along.  While Heather and I have had titles the past nine years such as friends, lovers, husband, wife – we chose to remove a few of those in 2012.  Stripping lover, husband and wife from your life is pretty common around the world.  Lots of couples divorce and many, like we are used to seeing in the US, strip the title of friend as well.  It’s easier that way to end what is a profoundly emotional experience.  Easier to cut each other out of one anothers lives and move on and get going to what is next.  Well, as I hope you can tell from the above, friendship is important in my life.  I believe there is nothing more important in this life for living well and creating happiness than cultivating friendship.  By watering seeds of peace, love, respect, honesty and trust in our relationships, we can cultivate great friendships.

Thailand Friends

Heather and I have tried to water those seeds to cultivate our friendship. Sure, we may be weird compared to some who have chosen to divorce but we had a pretty good 9 years. While it would be easy or make sense to many, to say goodbye and good luck, we chose to remain friends. As my Canadian friend Guy put it when I told him we were going to be friends – “I only thought us Homo’s stayed friends after breaking up…Good on you for setting a positive example for the Hetero couples out there.  Friendship is more fun.”  (I love Guy – I laughed so hard at this point in the conversation I think I asked him to repeat himself.)

Anyway, Heather and I like to travel and as friends we met in Thailand and enjoyed a beach vacation. We celebrated my return to the USA in California dining at a few places where they serve meals we wanted to share.  So for those that may be confused, our story is that simple.  We may not be husband, wife or lover but we are friends.  Like all of the other moments described above with good friends and finding myself at home – I was at home in Thailand and California and these were happy moments.

San Francisco 2012

Batesville Mississippi is home to Magnolia Grove Monastery.  This was the official end of my journey where I spent five days practicing with the monastic brothers and sisters and friends from around the country over the new years holiday.  Magnolia Grove is a special place filled with special people and I am happy to have discovered this early in my life.  Many thanks to the wonderful people of Magnolia Grove for your love, friendship and smiles.

 GC at Magnolia Grove

In my world, home is in the present moment and home is with friends.  Around the world I discovered friends old and new and in those moments, I was home.

In those moments one of my favorite feelings was more present than any other – Happiness.  These beautiful moments with beautiful friends proved what I have known for so long – that happiness, really is best when shared.

Thank you to all of my beautiful friends who made this long way home journey more of just what I wanted from the beginning, simply, a journey around the world.

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3 Responses to “The Long Way Home…”

  1. Debbie Cansler
    January 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Now this make me smile:) love mom

  2. Joel
    January 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    It must have really felt good to take the long way home physically, while feeling at home mentally & emotionally the whole way. Now that’s the way to roll. Good job GC. Love you, ~dad

  3. jim tillman
    January 20, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    thanks for sharing your wonderful moments!!

    i enjoyed every picture and video…

    and thanks for the postcards!!

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