Keeping up with monthly series in 2020 as a slow farewell to AoS, today I’m sharing another letter to myself in 2010, ten years ago. Each letter focuses on one of the different categories we write about here: relationships, community, work, travel, self-care, and in the case of this month’s installment, travel.

Though these are to myself, my hope is that you find a smidge of truth, beauty, and goodness you can apply to your own life — and perhaps this exercise will inspire you to write your own letters to yourself, ten years younger.

Dear Me in 2010,

In December 2019, when I had the idea to write you monthly letters as part of my last year publishing on this blog, I thought it would be helpful to organize them by topics that we explore here, one of which is travel. I purposely planned to save that topic until the summer, since this is the season I tend to slow down my online work life and get out and about with my family.

Never in a million years would I have guessed we’d be in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, halting most sorts of leisurely travel. And because of that, never would I have guessed how much I would realize the role travel plays in my life — and how much I miss it.

I’ll be honest: it’s hard to not see travel as part of my identity, and that’s probably not a good thing. I’ve been traveling internationally for decades. As you know, I met Kyle because of my love for travel. Our first years as a family were spent cross-cultural, thanks to a love of different places and people. We spent our twelfth year of marriage traveling around the world as a family, living out of backpacks.

The Vatican, 2015

Not a day goes by when I don’t miss that year. The past few months I’ve been itchier than ever to move about the cabin. The kids ask incessantly how long until we go back up to Oregon, where we usually are this time of year (of course, the answer, like most other parents’ answers to kids’ current questions for most everything these days, is: “I don’t know. We’ll see.”).

And I’ll admit, with the current status of our country, I miss living outside of it. I just do. I crave living in another culture. I feel more at home, more myself in Europe than I ever do in Texas, and I’ve never been able to pinpoint why.

Travel is a gift of remembrance. It helps us better understand where we came from, what role we play, how tiny we are, what really matters. It points me back to the Creator of all this variety, the stuff we’re immersed in when we travel: sights, sounds, smells.

Tate and Finn in Rome, 2015

It’s a gift because it deepens our character as we try uncertain food, wait in long lines, stand at a corner confused about where we are, unsure of the language. It resets our perspective: you’re one of seven billion people, and because of that, you don’t matter nearly as much as you think you do — and yet you matter more than ever in your tiny little slice of where you’ve been planted because you’re a gift to those you’re with.

As I said in my book, travel is a gift because it kindles our love of home, our need to belong, to be known, to love the little nook we’ve been given. I’m choosing to remember that this summer as we stay put and don’t go anywhere. Travel is a gift because most of our life, we stay put. If we traveled nonstop, it would cease to be astounding. I crave it right now because it’s special, not because it’s a birthright.

Tate, Reed, and Finn in New Zealand, middle of nowhere, 2014

I still miss it, and I’m eager to do it again. I hope we can soon. In the meantime, I’ll accept the current gift of homestead garden cultivation, daily neighborhood walks, and chats with our neighbors as we trade backyard surpluses of cucumbers for eggs. We’ll keep tossing our watermelon rinds over the fence to her chickens, and Kyle will use his truck to help the neighbor on the other side with landscaping supplies. This is our quotidian liturgy for summer 2020.

I’m grateful.


You in 2020

top photo: Finn in Kenya, 2015