My wife and I have been living overseas in South East Asia now for a little over five years. Four years in SE China and now we are on our second year in Thailand. It has been a great adventure and a wonderful learning experience. Every year has brought us closer to understanding the world around us as well as a better understanding of who we are as individuals and the relationship we have formed as partners in life. It hasn't been easy. But that is a good thing. Whatever your views on life, from religious beliefs to scientific understandings, all value and meaning in life comes from struggle. Some struggle more than others but without it little progress can be made. So with this basic concept in mind one can better explore the mental and physical complexities of those struggles.
Now, the challenge.
Every year my wife and I take our summer vacation back to the states to visit friends and family. We manage to allocate time for ourselves but the main goal is to be with loved ones and share our stories, together. Now on a side note it should be mentioned that it takes time to truly appreciate the joy of having a meaningful conversation. As I have become older in both mind and body it is this catharsis of sharing ones self with others that is most desired. It also has the added benefit of changing you for the better. A personal example of this change I speak of is that five years ago I thought it was more important in voicing my opinion and giving advice that I thought was helpful. But what I finally figured out was that sometimes the most valuable thing you can bring to a conversation is to simply listen.
With all the political and social turmoil portrayed in the media recently I half expected to arrive in America and find everyone at each others throat. I even strategized with my wife (jokingly) how we should approach the hostile situations that we would inevitably be faces with. Well, after a few days stateside I turned to my wife as we were driving down beautiful American backroads and said," I know America has it's issues right now but everyone seems to be going out of their way to be friendly." And I mean everyone. The great cultural diversity that makes America "Great" seemed to be dealing with its struggles just fine. Im not trying to downplay the problems we face but there are forces in this world ( I won't point any fingers) that want to take advantage of our fears and use them to divide us.
So with all that said I will leave you with a scene I captured on the streets of New Orleans July the 4th where local authorities and local patrons of the French Quarter took part in a meaningful conversation discussing each sides perspective in the hopes of coming to a better understanding into those struggles of life. And all the while the bombs bursting in air. It was beautiful.