Tomorrow morning, Josh and I will lock our apartment in Seoul for the last time as we head out for 7 weeks of traveling in South East Asia and India. We’ve said our goodbyes, closed our bank accounts, and sold anything that was too big to fit in our packs or ship back home. It’s almost go time. How lucky are we?
I was thinking about this question the other day while I was running. I was suddenly overcome with gratitude for the amazing adventures Josh and I have been able to go on. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t just about luck or fortune or “destiny” but also about how we respond to the incredible blessings in our lives.
We both grew up in loving and supporting families. We were able to attend universities and come out debt free. We’ve been able to travel, explore new interests, and take risks. Indeed, we have had a lot of good things come our way. But at every step along the way we have had to make a decision as to what we would do with these “good things” (and some bad things too). “Good things” and “bad things” happen to everyone but these happenings don’t own us. Our lives are not comprised only of what happens to us. It’s also (or mostly) about how we experience and respond to it–good or bad.
We get to choose how we live each moment. Nelson Mandela is a great example of this. The guy was in prison for 27 years because he believed with all his soul that all South Africans–all PEOPLE– should be treated with dignity and respect. I sort of feel like if I was in prison that long, it might negatively effect my attitude. Maybe, just a little. But Mandela used it as an opportunity to continue the struggle. He studied and taught others. He never proclaimed, “whoa is me…”
One of his favorite poems during this time was Invictus by William Ernest Henley. The last two lines of the poem read, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” Mandela did not see his imprisonment as the Apartheid government’s victory over him. Even in physical bondage, he still believed he was the master of his fate.
What does this all have to do with our travels? I guess I am trying to communicate that I don’t think the reason Josh and I have the freedom to follow our hearts is soley because we’ve been blessed. Don’t get me wrong, I feel extreme gratitude for the wonderful things in our lives, but if I have the attitude that good things just happen to me, then I also might slip into the belief that bad things just happen to me. Shit happens, but our response determines if that shit will have power over our happiness.
My intention every day for the next seven weeks is to stay fully present and be aware of the blessings coming my way. When I’m fully in the moment, all the goodness is so much clearer.
No regret, no fear. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.
**** I won’t be able to post daily while we are traveling but I’ll do my best to share when I can. I will also be writing about our adventures on MJ and a Sea of Stories. ****