My son Alex and I just returned from a two-week trip to Nepal. We were invited there by gentleman by the name of Dan Ghising. He and his friends were great hosts. They went out of their way to make sure we were look after at every moment. It was a wonderful trip. We were able to meet new friends, teach martial arts and see the country. I learned so much. Here are a few of my takeaways:
- There is no better education than real world traveling. There's plenty that you can learn from a book. There's plenty that you can learn from a good lecture. There's plenty that you can learn from watching a documentary. But nothing replaces real world experience. When you travel to foreign lands, especially ones that are extremely different from your own, it forces you to engage in all of your senses. In the process, you end up paying a lot more attention to what's going. You learn more, see more and experience more than you ever could by any other means.
- Nepal is a beautiful country, but it is also a poor country. It's up to you to see the beauty or the poverty. I have to admit, it took me a good two days to get over the poverty, the pollution, smell of raw sewage, the crowded, chaotic, busy streets before I could really start to see the beauty.
Once I started looking however, I saw beauty everywhere. The temples, the mountains, the monasteries, the rain forests.... They were amazing. But most amazing was the beauty of the people. I had the fortunate privilege of interacting with dozens of Nepali people. To a person, they were sincere, polite, giving and friendly.
- Nepali people seem to be just as happy as Americans, but they make do with much less. They seem to appreciate the little things more than we do. I don't know about you, but sometimes I take my life for granted. For example, about three weeks ago, I found myself complaining because the drinking fountain I was getting a drink out of wasn't cold. The water coming out of it was at room temperature. Many people in Nepal don't even have clean water, let alone cold water. A week before that I was irritated because the air conditioner wasn't working in the room that I was training in and I was hotter than I planned on. In Nepal the train in rooms with cement floors and without air-conditioning, or even a fans for that matter.
- Martial Arts is a universal language. Although many of the students that I trained with didn't speak English, they did speak MartialArts and we had some great conversations. It was a pleasure to share my hybrid mix of moves and drills with an audience who sincerely appreciated it. It's not that my western friends don't appreciate things, it's just that these people had a thirst for knowledge that I haven't seen in a long time.
- My son Alex is a great travel companion. Being 19, going to school and working means that my son doesn't have much time for anything, especially for hanging out with his old man. Our bond is forever stronger because of this trip and I appreciated sharing the experience with him.
- There is no place like home. Sometimes we forget this until we are away for a while. I'm not sure why it takes a trip to the other side of the world to help us appreciate our home, but in my case, I came home with a renewed sense of appreciation for the life I get to live. I can show my appreciation by doing my best to be happy, bring positive energy to every situation and contribute where I can.