Its funny the way new places, people, foods, and experiences help us take our tunnel vision lenses off and see the world from a more arial perspective. I only realized how beautiful the rolling hills of Pennsylvania were when I saw the beauty in the Rift Valley and thought how similar they looked. Every place I travel, I try to give something and take something. I am not insinuating that I am a thief but that I really try to immerse myself in the smells, tastes, sights, and embraces that each new place renders.
I have spent the last couple days immersed within a jungle village in Chang Rai, Thailand. There is no possible way to describe the food, people, and sights that have infiltrated my soul but I will attempt anyway.
First of all the food...Everything is grown, cooked, and made in the village. The chicken, vegetables, rice, potatoes, and fruit is organic and without condiments. There is no need for ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise when food is fresh and cooked with the proper spices.
The jungle challenged me physically, awed me spiritually, and created a sense of peace in my mind. Although Mother Nature takes on differnet forms across this big rock, she wants you to find your Zen.
The people in this village gave us shelter in their homes, cooked for us, did our laundry, and welcomed us into their culture. They are by no means what one would call wealthy in riches but they seem to have a peace that a lot of the universe is lacking. They seem to understand that community is everything and that happiness can be found in the babble of a brook, the lick of a puppy, the bamboo in the jungle, and the mist of a waterfall on your skin.
There always seems to be that one "snap shot" that I take from each place I visit. These snap shots build the canvas of my heart.
My Chang Rai "snap shot" was a little girls eyes looking into mine as we walked to the waterfall. She held my hand and looked at me with those deep brown eyes that made every problem in my life trivial. She smiled with true joy. The kind of joy that I find it hard to come by. What if we as adults, looked at life in this way? She gave me a sense of peace, joy, and meaning that I will forever be grateful for.
Tomorrow is the Chinese Near Year and we celebrated with a bonfire dance with the community. Although, my sweet moves were lacking, it was amazing! During the dancing, fire works, and spinning of children, I somehow managed to lose a feather earring that I had just purchased as a memory piece. I was a little annoyed at now having one useless earring, but then checked myself and thought how blessed I am to dance and receive this experience.
I wanted to give this little girl something before I departed because she gave me so much. I really felt like I had nothing to offer her. This morning, I realized that I had one feather earring that could be made into a necklace. When she greeted me this morning, she was wearing a necklace that truly needed a new feather charm. I hugged her and turned my earring into a charm and once again...that smile. It wasn't until the first tear fell on my face as we departed, that I realized that the feather earring was the exact print as my feather tattoo. My random tattoo now has meaning. I couldn't help but look at my tatted skin today and think of this little girl who has blessed my soul. We all give and take and that is the beauty in this journey.