The Seattle Times published an inspiring article entitled, Out of the Comfort Zone, as its feature article in today’s Sunday Pacific Northwest Magazine. It’s written by Paula Bock who has traveled/vacationed with her husband [and now daughter] to the Thai-Burma border annually since 1996. During their trips, they volunteer with the refugees on the border. In her words:
Volunteering on the Thai-Burma border for a dozen years has changed me. I’m humbled and inspired by friends who’ve had everything ripped away – famimlies, home, jobs, safety – and still care about others. They connect me to the rest of the world, help me see behind horrible headlines. Back in Seattle, I relive certain moments, a dusty afternoon, the smile of a child recovering from fever. I feel human. My life is not only about me.
I enjoyed the article not only because I personally trekked out to the Thai-Burma border last year but because I love the premise of traveling [even on vacations] with a sense of purpose. Here’s another excerpt:
A reminder that helping is complex. Over time, you make mistakes; you learn. You learn to provide what’s really needed, not just what you want to give. You learn fulfillment can’t come solely from checking off items on a do-good list.
What if you help rebuild a library in a refugee camp that was burned to the ground — and it all gets torched again? Do you erase the check mark? Abandon your altruistic agenda? Spend your next holiday on a Maui beach? (Tried that, felt hollow, sat by pool with computer plotting next volunteer visit.)
You learn to find joy in the unexpected. Stray moments. Momentous events. [read full article]
My trip to the Thai-Burma border and into one of the Karen villages was eye and heart opening. I only regretted not being able to travel with my wife which is the reason why we are making plans to travel “out of our comfort zone” this upcoming summer for our 3 month sabbatical. Our family, including our three kids, hope to travel to couple destinations to remind ourselves
- that we live in a larger world
- that we are connected to others
- the way that we live is not normal
- and much has been given to us and much is to be expected.