Overview: Observations of Reality

Ok, it’s time for some honesty. This trip is amazing, but I’ve come to a few interesting realizations as the honeymoon phase wears off.

First off, it hit me at 9 last night that I can’t get away from these 20 people for the next three months, with the exception of a ten-day furlough. Don’t get me wrong, all of my trip mates are friends, and they’re all quality human beings, but after only a week together, I’m beginning to long for solitude. The best analogy is our family’s trips to the Bemidji farm house when I was little, before it was a garlic farm. My grandparents insisted that all 25 of us remain in the same house for the entire holiday weekend. There were lots of card games and stories and memories, but I’m sure some people felt suffocated by the constant community.

I get tired of them and yet I never want to leave the party, because it feels like voluntary exclusion and missing out on potential inside jokes and memories. I have to remind myself we really haven’t even started, no matter how much time we think has passed

On that note, because of the sheer amount of things we’ve already done, and the constant travel, it feels like we’ve been here for over a month already when it’s really been less than two weeks. Isaac and I discussed this at the top of Durham Cathedral, and he said that “the sensation of time is different than the keeping of time”. The way some people have a stronger or weaker sense of sight or hearing, some have a stronger or weaker sense of the passage of time. This is why we all feel as if we’ve been here ages when it’s really been days.

(This portrait of my beautiful friend captures the tension between nature and technology, being in the experience and preserving the memory)

One of the other things I’ve noticed about traveling with 20 college students is our attachment to our devices. We scramble to find WiFi to post our selfies with ancient ruins and wild fields. And I implicate myself in this “back in my day” rant. I race to post daily essays about my once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

We are fortunate to be visiting first-world countries that are fairly adept with technology, and the Bethel Study Abroad office encourages us to keep our family and friends updated. But we are all still searching for balance between experiencing our journey and capturing it for keepsakes and memories.

A common habit of my generation is to relax by watching videos or listening to music. This usually requires a device, and devices require charging. When a charging cord is left behind, it’s a mad dash to replace it.

There are some useful and necessary aspects of technology, such as finding directions, staying in touch with our group and family back home, and preserving these memories in creative ways. Still, we must remember that we made this journey and paid a lot of money to live these experiences, and it’s on us to make the most of them.

Overall, while the magical haze is wearing off, the utter charm of England and the joy of being in community remains. It’s been an amazing start to the trip and I look forward to more sightseeing and bonding.

3 thoughts on “Overview: Observations of Reality

  1. Dotty used to quote Bonhoeffer to me when I grew weary of the group. It helped me stay grateful and balanced.
    “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bonhoeffer’s depth, wisdom and perspective rings true adding.

      E, this is an amazing adventure/opportunity, and, as someone who has struggled with being in social groups/community (esp for prolonged periods if time) my entire life, I knew this post was inevitable.

      Alone time is such a treasure, right? Being in touch with my spiritual self has been a life saver in more than one social situation (sometimes even walking through the door).
      We can “escape” into our spirit and connect with God at any time, any place, regardless of who or how many surround us.

      Your growth throughout this trip is going to be exponential and I eagerly await each post and cannot wait to talk with you one-on-one when you return.

      I think and pray for you daily, love.
      Go forth and conquer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You guys!! Thank you! And honestly I spend so much time laughing, I’m still having an amazing time. Already the girl who got on the plane feels like a stranger. I’ll keep you updated and Adam PLEASE come to MN in December

    Like

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