I’ve been wanting to share an important (and please take note – personal opinion) life lesson I learned while on the road for a while now, and looking back over some photos I took at the time I came to these important conclusions on life, well they inspired me to finally write it.
We found ourselves in a place called Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and that place is just magic. For those who don’t know, this lake sits inside a circle of mountains and volcanoes. A long steep decent is required to get to one of the major towns that surround the lake, and trips over the water are the only way to access some of the quaint Mayan villages around the waters edge. The way the clouds sit over the mountains, and at times hover over the water, the way the sun sets in an explosion of colour each evening and the stunning and shocking combinations of colour that the locals wear, traditionally, of course, adds to and creates the magic of this place.
It was here that we were introduced to Mayan Families, a dedicated and multi-facetted NGO which supports the community and provides much needed help in this region. While Guatemala doesn’t have extreme poverty, there are many issues in relation to malnutrition, money and the general health of the Mayan population in these regions. Even though Lake Atitlan is over-flowing with NGO’s, more support is always needed. It was toward the end of our time in this area of Guatemala, and having taken into consideration everything that I had seen on our trip, and the people I had met, that I realised something very important.
How many of the people that I had seen on this trip were ever able to, or would ever be able to ask the question, “what do I want to do with my life”? How many of the tiny babies I’d seen and the children playing in the streets would grow up to choose the direction of their life and their work? How is it fair that the situation they are born into determines their opportunities in life? Many of the people in this region don’t even speak Spanish, let alone English. By learning Spanish, a whole world of opportunity opens to them, and by learning English, even more so. Why do I deserve a bright future and not one of the many people I had seen here?
And so on reflection of these rhetorical questions, I realised how truly blessed my life is, how shallow all those Facebook complaints about the latest Australian election and the hard ships it may bring them were, and how angry it made me to hear others talk about their #firstworldproblems.
And so now I truly believe that if you are born into a household, society or a country that gives you even the slightest option and hope to ask the question “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, I believe you have a moral responsibility to not only do something great with your life, but to do something for someone who can’t ask that question. And these are not empty words – while volunteering is currently not an option, I know that financial support is always needed in so many places in the world and always try I put my money where my mouth is in an ongoing, sustainable way.
I guess all of this was just personal thoughts, epiphanies if you will, that only travel could hope to invoke in this wanderer.