This is a hodgepodge of short thoughts we have had recently, none of which warrant a full post so are put together.
A Boy and His Dog(s)
Anybody who knows us, even a little, knows that we love dogs. Apparently, we have passed this affliction on to our children because they both fawn over any friendly dog we pass. We have found dogs to love in nearly every city, town, and hamlet we have passed through. This longing has seemed to intensify during our time in Nepal and Bhutan as Mac has been particularly hard hit by missing our curly dog. When we speak of what we long for about home, Moxie tops Mac’s list most every time. While he misses certain foods, his friends, clean toilets, etc., it is always Moxie that he misses most. Along our trek in the Annapurna region, he was able to find a young Tibetan Mastiff mix to love in every town. They all looked similar so he named each after a candy bar – Bounty, Snickers, KitKat, and Brownie. Each dog would walk us from our guest house to the end of his territory where we would eventually be guided by a different dog from the next town. Mac has been reading a lot of stories about boys and their dogs (i.e. Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows, etc.) which seems to allay the loss somewhat, but also seems to intensify the longing as well. That connection is something he desires intensely. Right now the kids are talking about how many and what kinds of dogs will round out our menagerie when we get back. There is something about the bond between a boy and his dog that cannot be substituted, and missing Moxie is one of the more difficult parts of traveling this long.
A Girl Grows Up
We were looking through last year’s photos recently when we realised just how much Lucia has grown up over the past year and one half. No longer a young girl, she is now an independent, capable, witty and aware young woman entering her tween years with grace and a level head. She has also developed a keen awareness of the role of inequality in the world. For example, while hiking in Nepal, we walked for a while with a transgender woman. After we parted ways, Lucia wondered out loud how the process happens which led us to a discussion of the role of hormones in the development of male or female characteristics. As I explained how exogenous testosterone can change physical appearance (i.e. hair on the face and chest, greater muscle mass, deeper voice, etc.), she, without missing a beat, adds, “And, of course, greater job opportunities.” At 11, she has recognised the pervasiveness of gender-based inequality across the globe – an unintended, but wholly welcome, lesson. Also showing wisdom beyond her years, after getting on Instagram after a couple weeks without internet, she said, “I am so tired of all the selfies on Instagram! Don’t my friends have anything better to do with their time?” Yes, honey, I sure hope they do, but what they look like is the most important thing in the world to them right now. We can only wonder what re-entry will be like for her. Perhaps we are simply providing something for her to go to therapy about later in life.
Often we are asked if it is difficult to spend so much time together, if we we are constantly at each other’s throats. The reality is no – not at all – it may seem like it from the outside but it’s really quite enjoyable. This is not to say that traveling together is always easy, but we are quite happy together and have worked out who does what within the family. Colburn is in charge of money and restaurants, Deb is in charge of reservations and logistics, Lucia now makes sure we don’t leave too much stuff behind because we have lost 6 water bottles since August, and Mac makes sure we have snacks and water. We all have a role to play, but one of the unintended consequences of being together all day, every day for a year and a half is that our marriage has matured at an accelerated rate. We’ve become an old married couple much earlier than our 18 years together would indicate. Perhaps it stems from being more comfortable with and up front about our individual strengths and weaknesses, perhaps it is not having the distractions of work and school to temper our actions, perhaps it is just the consequence of so much time together – something most couples don’t really do until retirement – it is difficult to tell why. From the outside it may look as if we are arguing about trivial things, but the reality is that it is much more of a form of playful banter and not really an argument at all. You can’t spend this much time together and not get along. We love each other more and more each day.
Holding on and Letting Go
Traveling together for an extended period has brought us to the realisation that life really is a matter of deciding what needs to be held on to and what needs to be let go. Hold on to your children, let go of your preconceived notions of who they should be. Hold on to principles and let go of steadfast rules. Hold on to simple routines, let go of expectations that everything will go the way you think it should. Hold on to what matters most to you – people you love, beliefs, dreams – and let go of anything or anyone who does not support you in those things. Hold on to tradition even when letting go is easier. The list goes on. In fact, it might even be the theme for our book, should we ever write one…..