I fed the elephants—And you should, too!
How I left my comfort zone and preconceived notions behind to enjoy an exciting new destination and fresh perspective.
I just returned from an amazing trip to Southeast Asia with my husband Howard and two very good friends of ours. But, admittedly, we embarked upon the journey with some trepidation.
Our concerns were many. For instance, we’d be a half a day ahead of everyone at home, making communication with the office quite difficult. Being picky eaters, we wondered if we’d like the food. There was a lot of ground to be covered—so we’d spend far less time on foot than I’m used to. While we like to explore and try new things, I wouldn’t characterize our lives as “adventurous” as the itinerary defined. And just the notion of being a half a world away from our family, and living in an unfamiliar culture, felt overwhelming and daunting.
Ultimately, that feeling of being completely disconnected from our usual routine in countries so foreign to us left me concerned.
But we forged ahead because there is one thing I do know for certain: There are times when you simply need to step out of your comfort zone and have faith in the bigger plan.
And I’m so glad we did…
We crawled through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
We climbed up the world’s longest escalator in Hong Kong and an incredibly steep flight of stairs to see the most spectacular views high atop Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
We rode bicycles on a dirt road through Vietnam to a small restaurant where we ate delicious pho and a number of other things equally delicious (although I have no idea what they were).
We slept on a junk boat in Halong Bay and woke early to do Tai Chi.
We were blessed by Buddhist Monks in Siem Reap.
We walked with and fed elephants in Laos. (Yes, I did, and I have pictures to prove it!)
We met so many people from these countries who have so little, yet were happy, content and incredibly grateful.
We lived on Southeast Asia time: We never rushed, we dined instead of ate, and we were totally present.
It was a completely new perspective for each of us—rejuvenating and rewarding. We did so many things I would never in a million years have expected to do in my lifetime—with feeding these incredible, gentle, giant elephants right at the top of that list!
Even though we thoughtfully planned the trip over the course of a year, it was still something new and uncharted for all of us—foreign in all ways. And when we’re confronted with something that will bring about any amount of change in our lives – whether that change will last hours, days or years – we easily get caught up focusing on doubts and concerns, instead of the positive potential that lies ahead.
Life is far too precious a gift to waste time focusing on all that can go wrong. Instead, realize that it is a journey with many new and exciting destinations waiting for you to explore. Take the time to open your mind, be flexible and let go of your preconceived notions—and the journey will unfold in ways you may not have ever imagined. And one day, you too may find yourself feeding the elephants!