Within days of returning from Australia, I was booked for a talk in Reno, Nevada. It was a quick, overnight trip, and as I was unpacking my Australia suitcase to prepare for the Reno flight, I realized how totally exhausted I was. I mean, I even chose not to take my camera to Nevada -- on purpose -- and that never happens. But the mere thought of lugging that camera around, even for such a short trip, wore me out.
This week, my body finally said "enough." It has forced me to slow down and take it easy, and I'm listening carefully. It's nothing serious -- a flare-up of "Reactive Airway Disorder" (which I think is doctor-speak for "it's-asthma-but-since-you've-never-had-asthma-before-we'll-call-it-something-fancy") -- so I'm indulging in lots of mugs of tea and doctor's pills and occasional quiet mornings in familiar coffeehouses. I'm also in the middle of tons of introspection.
I've described this recent trip to Australia to friends as "life-shifting," and it was, but not just because of my exposure to something new and exciting. In many ways this trip helped me articulate a passion in a way I never had before: travel for the specific purpose of telling stories. I mean, I've always loved traveling to learn and connect with people and cultures I haven't before, but this trip (and the ones to Ethiopia and Kenya in recent years) made me realize that I'm also passionate about communicating the experiences. Of telling stories with images and words about what I learned -- and hopefully, in the process, help others discover something new and connecting and beautiful as well.
As the year is winding down (I'm not believing tomorrow is November, are you?), it's time to start planning out what I'd like the coming year to look like, and I know that this new "passion find" will play a big part in my hopes for 2014. To that end, since I don't have any more work trips for the rest of the year, I'm going to spend the next few days doing a little solo brainstorming: journaling and sketching and strategizing and generally mapping out what's next for Chookooloonks.
It's good to be home.