My favorite quote, from Benjamin Franklin, is to “either write something worth reading, or to do something worth writing.”
For years, we’ve tried to write about things worth reading — she wrote, of her heartbreak after a near decade-long relationship — how it felt to be so hurt, so torn, and lost. She wrote, of struggles at a life in China, what it felt like to feel culturally detached, alone, without anyone close to talk to.
My posts, were of heartbreaks too, but from having given up one too many times. Guilt and disappointment were what I wrote of, of what it was like to fail everything you’ve started, to let down those who believed in you. I wrote, of days when I’d struggle to get out of bed, of days when even hope seemed to slip away.
Those were the topics of our pasts, topics we knew well.
But it was precisely because it was our past, that we couldn’t keep writing it. We had traveled to Southeast Asia to move on, but writing of the past was what held us back.
We thought, maybe we could write about travel instead, since it was something we enjoyed and had already done a bit of. Maybe, we thought, that’s our something worth writing about.
But as we wrote more of it, we realized, travel wasn’t what we wanted to write about either.
Writing it had felt disingenuous.
The cities we wrote of, with all of their attractions — the top places to eat, things to do, scenic hikes of wilderness and sandy beaches of serenity were topics people wanted to read about, but it was never the way we traveled ourselves.
We traveled out of necessity, to mend our broken hearts — and with no place to call home because that was where our pasts were, Southeast Asia became our home instead.
And like the locals who lived there, we too were frugal. Most days a month, we would cook and eat at home, and though attractions were plentiful, we rarely visited — they were too often in city center, away from the suburbs of which we lived.
We were travelers, but we didn’t travel much; and to write of experiences that weren’t really ours, wasn’t something we wanted to do.
It didn’t feel right.
So we stopped. We stopped writing, almost entirely because we knew whatever we would write next would have to be something we believed in.
It wasn’t until coming home to the States before we realized what that was.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from traveling, it’s of the different perspectives that exist on how to best live life, outside of the ones we’re familiar with and have been taught.
In the book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fck,* Mark Manson explains it well:
“Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves. This exposure to different cultural values and metrics then forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it’s not necessarily the best way to live.”
Throughout our travels, some of the happiest and most content people we’ve met were also those that were poor. Fishing on the river bank after a long day at work, sipping coffee by the street while watching the sun set, selflessly offering food already scarce in hopes of pleasant conversation, they knew to enjoy life in a way we never did.
When we were kids, we’d make fun of our parents for always wanting to take strolls, for listening to oldies, for munching on fruits while listening to birds sing — we thought, with all the things you could do, why choose to do something so plain? — but little did we know, that all along it was we that didn’t know how to enjoy life, that it was we who took all those moments for granted.
Because now, even when we ask, our parents are the ones who are reluctant to take strolls, to listen to oldies, to munch on fruits while listening to birds sing — they’re too busy, they say, too tired.
Somewhere, somehow, our parents became exactly who they encouraged us not to become: addicted to their phones, to their devices, to the internet. The pleasures they seek are no longer of experiences, but of value, of cost in the number of things purchased.
Somewhere, somehow, our parents became who we once were.
Our parents, are everything to us.
If there’s anything we’re grateful for, it’s our parents for having given us not only an opportunity at life, but at a better future — they immigrated to the US because they believed it was the best place to raise a family, a place where their kids would have more opportunities than they themselves had.
It’s because of those opportunities that we’ve become who we are.
If it weren’t for our parent’s love, effort and countless sacrifices in raising us the best way they knew how, if it weren’t for them providing the backdrop to the right circumstances at the right time, we would’ve never had the privilege to travel, to discover on our own the perspectives to a more fulfilling life.
Perspectives, that our parents themselves never had the opportunity to discover, because that was their sacrifice to us.
We want to give back to them the very opportunity they gave us — in realizing that there’s more to life than the amount of money saved, that sometimes more important than the cost of things are the experiences to be gained, that this is the only life you have and that it’s never too late to pursue your passions.
The way we’ll do it is to show by example — to demonstrate through the living of our own lives the possibilities of a life well-lived — a life without worries, without regrets, of contentment and of happiness: a life not to merely exist, but to live.
Our parents sacrificed for us their opportunities to travel while younger so we would have a better future. This, is that future and the future we’ve decided that one day, they too might discover the same perspectives we have, at living a more fulfilling life. Since they can no longer travel, we’ll bring the travel to them instead — so that one day, they’ll realize the extent of the very gift they’ve given us.
And along the way, we’ll write about it — of the struggles we’ll face, our insecurities, our self-doubts, conflicts of values, uncertainties — in our beliefs, our values and our relationships. We’ll write, of the moments when we’re once again reminded of the vastness of life, of the different things we’ll learn, of the ideas that’ll challenge our perspective, of all the answers that’ll make us question why, in this journey called life.
Because one day, that’ll be the guidebook for our own children — to pass along to them the very knowledge our parents tried to pass on to us: that there’s a lot more to life than we know.
And that, is something worth writing about.
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