… objects at rest stay at rest. This law of physics has stuck with me since I learned about it in a high school textbook. The ever-helpful Wikipedia adds: “Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest.”
Strikes me that inertia also applies to people, particularly in today’s go-go-go society. We are perpetually in motion, taking on way too much, filling our schedules beyond capacity, saying yes when we should say no. And thanks to technology, the lines between work and personal time have blurred to the point of being invisible.
The thing is, being busy can become self defining and some of us (Karl would point a finger straight at me) can be, ahem, “resistant” to change, even when it would be in our best interests.
As long as I can remember I have been busy. Busy, busy, busy. In university, my singular focus was on achieving top grades: partly because I had been pegged early by my dad as “the smart one” (yes a psychologist would have a field day with that nugget of information) and partly because I had to maintain a 4.0 grade point average to continue receiving the scholarship that paid my tuition (and meant I could do things like, you know, eat…)
Next it was my career. And then, because the universe laughed at what I defined as “busy” in my twenties, my thirties saw the addition of family (three kids in 5 years) and then homeschooling.
Now, I have to say that meeting Karl and having children was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for anything. But the challenge with the career-family-homeschooling trifecta is that life can get very insular (there isn’t room for much of anything – or anyone – else).
We decided to embark on this trip for a whole host of reasons. Stripping down the busy-ness of our lives was one key goal. No house to manage, no work commitments, no endless rushing to kids’ activities (soccer, swimming, piano etc.) and for the summer at least, no homeschool reporting. Essentially we wanted to change our state of motion to include a better balance of motion and rest, at least temporarily.
It’s not like we’re now basking in a perpetual state of Zen, like the monks chanting at the Kek Lok Si temple. We’re traveling in developing countries with young kids after all. But there is space to breathe, time to connect and observe, and best of all, opportunity to meet new people and gain a new perspective.
In Penang we met a wonderful family (who we’ve mentioned in the past few blog posts) – Brian, Gina and their daughter Maddie. Of course that only happened because Karl and Gina are both extroverts and actually struck up a conversation poolside. (If it had been up to Brian and me, we would have continued nodding dismissive hellos as we passed each other by).
Before we knew it, the kids were fast friends, the adults were enjoying interesting conversation and many a beer and glass of wine on a daily basis, and we were planning a visit to Tasmania. Yes, they were crazy enough to invite our family of five to stay at their home… well the “shed” right beside their home, which I have since learned is the Tasi word for cabin, so we won’t be sleeping with the lawn mower and rakes. And they didn’t even blink at the suggestion of a two-week stay – these are brave people!
Last month in Melaka, we met a young traveler named Paul. Positively bursting with energy and optimism, he was such a breath of fresh air, always keen to chat with the kids and to share his spirit of adventure. Recently he posted a very kind comment about our family on his blog, which made us feel we might actually be doing something right amidst all our many parenting mistakes, and encouraged us to see the kids through new eyes (not the jaded ones worn down by siblings bickering). http://manitwo.tumblr.com/post/55603649636/the-fab-5-on-the-road
And of course we’ve also met many wonderful Malaysian people along the way, from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. We’ve been touched by their kindness and truly humbled by their work ethic (giving us a new definition of “hard work and long hours”).
We’re excited to see who else we meet on this journey. We’re off to a great start!