Friday, April 29, 2011

The Life That Matters

It all matters of course. But the lessons that I've learned in 2011, for the short time that this year has been in place, all point out that the life I have been given is a constant matter of choice. How I perceive the world around me, how open I am to the beauty of it, how I transmit what I am given, and most of all, where I spend the time I'm allotted depends on how open I am to signals of importance.

From the time I was 21 until I was 47, a large portion of my life was bound up with my children. For the 15 years that followed, I went exploring. Now as I approach 63, my search for home takes me back where I started from, with my family.

One of my first memories that holds speech is from when I was three and living in Mt. McKinley National Park as it was known then. Some older children came to our front door, told my mother that they were going exploring and asked if I could come along. "No," she replied, "Mikie's too little to go exploring." I think I eventually forgave her, but I've never forgotten.

I've learned that exploring can range wide on familiar ground or be quite narrow in exotic territory. "I have traveled a great deal, in Concord," Thoreau said, while backpackers spend their time in Bangkok in front of a computer screen or a TV blasting Western dvds. My own SE Asian explorations pale when compared to my friend Elizabeth, a woman who is a true nomad and adventurer. And yet I realized yesterday while on a bus, how much of Bangkok I have mapped by wandering through it over the past decade and a half. Although like any major city of the world, Bangkok changes constantly so there are always new spots to discover--it's why I love it so.

But more than I love Bangkok, or Thailand, or SE Asia, or the whole bloody continent itself, I love my kids. Take away my posterchild status of Menopausal Meanderer--rip the stripes of Seasoned Expat from my shoulders--I can live with that. I'll never make Mother of the Year either. But whether I'm in Bangkok returning to Seattle once a year, or in Seattle making an annual pilgrimage to Bangkok, I will always be an explorer, never too little nor too old.


Anonymous said...

Of course you will be, Janet. I so understand what you articulate very well. The freedom to go, to live anywhere we choose is exhilarating, somehow bigger than life itself, but in the end, what matters it to be true to oneself and one's needs. And there's nothing wrong with those needs shifting.

janet brown said...

Our friendship will remain in place no matter where we live, I know! And that is very comforting.