July 25, 2011
We have been home for over three weeks, and it is time for this blog to go on hiatus. In about two months I am going to give a talk entitled, Travel as Transformational Experience: The Story of MAD and TAJ and their Trip Around the World. As I pull that together I will post at least part of it on this site. There are many stories from our travels that have not made it into print. I still hope to write them down before they escape from my memory.
I am playing with the idea of starting a blog called “MAD at home.” I have found my writing practice very therapeutic and I hope to continue to write but I find this more challenging at home. I also find myself being angry more when I am home and I want to sort that out and get to the root of it. The second week I was home, two of the toilets backed up in our house, Oliver, our younger dog, got sick, and my car would not start. Had my car started I might have driven straight to the airport and booked a ticket to somewhere far away. Unpacking, cleaning, sorting through piles and dealing with broken things all required more emotional energy than I had to give and I found myself sliding into my long established habits of being the overly responsible middle child and resenting every minute of it. I needed to review that lesson about there is no “Y” in “happiness,” and remember that the only thing I really have control over is my reaction to these situations. All of that is still a work in progress.
The summer of 2006, we bought a small house near Knife Lake in Mora, Minnesota. My brother owns a house across the road right on the lakeshore. While the house has needed a fair amount of work over the years it has always been my refuge. Unfortunately, last summer we had a major mouse invasion. The few times I made it up to Mora, I spent the entire weekend setting mouse traps, cleaning up mouse poop, and listening to these uninvited guests scurry around inside the walls when I was trying to sleep. At the end of the summer I did what I hated to do – and put out some D-Con mouse poison. In the fall my brother checked the house and removed five dead mice from the living room. This spring a neighbor set traps through out the kitchen and basement, and removed a few other critters. For weeks now the traps have not been touched and this past weekend Josh and I came up to deal with the damage. After two full days of vacuuming, washing and scrubbing, I am feeling some sense of this house being the refuge it once was.
Whenever it seemed like too much work to face the three-hour drive to get there I would remember my mantra “Away is Good.” Once here, I have just enough distance to get some perspective on my life in St. Peter. I have made a commitment to myself to try to come up here once a month. Now I need to say that out loud and hold myself to it.
I sincerely hope to travel internationally more in the future, but I realize our “trip around the world” was most likely a once in a lifetime experience. What I need to do now is reflect on what I learned from that experience and figure out how those lessons inform my day-to-day life. I have not yet figured out how to schedule the required time for serious reflection and writing into my life at home. Getting away to Europe or Israel or China is not in the immediate future. But getting away to Mora, Minnesota is manageable.