Home Sweet Home

So here I am, sitting again on my back deck, margarita in hand. This picture was taken literally 15 minutes after I walked in the door. The deep blue skies and golden sunshine of California greeted me on my return, and I was glad to see them.

So...what do I think of all this? It's a lot to take in. Of course, we went too fast to really immerse ourselves in any of the cultures we encountered, and that's a shame. I met a lot of really cool people on the trip, and I hope to keep in touch with them. I hope and expect to return to many of the places I visited, to spend more time and gain a fuller appreciation for them.

Seeing me sitting on the back deck, drink in hand, returning to my life of relative luxury and ease...you might think I'd be really happy to get home. And I was, surely. But I remember well the words of Issa, our host in St. Petersburg: "There is no life in the U.S.A. There is no life in Western Europe. Here, there is life."

There's a lot of truth in that. Historically, and for most people today, life is all about struggle. Yes, I realize that for many people in the United States, life is still a struggle - but nothing like the struggle that goes on in Kiev and Russia, for instance. Yes, things are pretty easy here - too easy, maybe. With half a brain, a mediocre education and something approaching a good work ethic, just about anyone can do alright for themselves. Here in the U.S.A., things are easy, safe, and "sanitized for your protection"; I think we really are missing out on a lot of what life is all about.

Don't get me wrong - the U.S.A. is not a bad place. Especially not my little slice of California. But if you haven't done so yet or lately, my advice is to go ahead, take that sabbatical. Quit your job, do some travelling - go somewhere way far out of your "comfort zone." Go on...see what you've been missing. :-)