Friday, May 23, 2008

This precious privilege of life

I awoke to an early morning phone call from my daughter. She's in Thailand, on the last 12 days of a 3 1/2 month journey through Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.

We've got a party planned for when she returns. It will be a birthday, homecoming celebration. A night for friends and family to gather and hear her stories, and share in her journey.

But first, she has to experience these last 12 days before coming home.

"This last two weeks is hard," she told me, her voice crackling across the transpacific airwaves. "I'm so homesick."

Nearing the end of a journey can be more challenging than starting out. The exhilaration of new adventure begins to wane, the distance to go shortens. Our sights begin to turn inward, closer to where we're at. We do not see adventure waiting, we see homecoming, the end, the finish line, the completion nearing.

Like climbing a mountain, a journey away from home takes us to new heights, new vistas, new perspectives. And then we begin the descent. That journey homeward where we are tired, our bodies replete with the new perspectives we've gained. Our minds scream out for rest, but we must journey onward, for as Robert Frost wrote, there are "miles to go before I sleep".

Journey's are not in getting to the destination. They're about experiencing every moment of the voyage. Stopping to take in the views. Resting to let time catch up to where we're at. Stepping forward to move from one moment to the next. Journies are about feeling the ground beneath our feet. They're about stepping firmly onto any terrain so that we can claim our right to stand tall, stand firm, stand up for who we are, our beliefs, our values, our desires where ever we are in the world.

For Alexis, sharing her journey with me from a phone on the other side of the world, her words racing around this ball spinning through time in another zone, home feels like a long, long way away. Coming home feels like forever.

For me, sitting here on this side of the hemisphere where the sun has broken from behind sodden grey clouds, my daughter feels like she's a world away. I want to reach out and hug her, tell her she's okay, she's courageous, she's on the journey of her lifetime today, don't rush it. Soak up these last few days, drain every moment of experience, live every moment with abandon.

The journey has just begun. She may never pass that way again, may never travel those roads in the future. This is the time to stand tall and embrace whatever the road has to offer without fearing once she's home she'll miss where she's at.

As we hung up she whispered into the phone. "Thanks for your insights mom. I needed to hear your voice."

What greater gift can a mother ask for? A daughter who has the courage to travel around the world. Who can ride elephants and raft down wild rivers. A daughter who is willing to stretch beyond her comfort zone into the great big world around her and experience the multi-coloured facets of being on foreign soils, far from home. A daughter who, no matter where she is in the world, still wants to call home and talk to her mother just so she can say, "I love you."

That is an awesome gift. I am truly blessed.

As I journey into my morning and stretch into my day, I am reminded by my daughter that life is the adventure. On this journey of a lifetime, courage is not the absence of fear, it is the willingness to move through it and live fearlessly in love with life. As Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor who reigned supreme long ago wrote, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

The question is: Where in the world are you standing right now? Are you claiming this precious gift of life and breathing deeply in the wonder and joy of being you, where ever you're at?

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