Introspection From Expedition
Most of the time, my high speed travel doesn't allow for extended periods of introspection and the places and people I visit on the job focus my thoughts outward. My trip to China with a couple of dozen members earlier this month had the opposite affect. For some reason, the masses of humanity and the sheer magnitude of the entire Chinese experience fostered thoughts about my own place in the world. At one point in the trip, I told fellow traveler Kelvin Hullett of Bismarck that I felt the way I do when I look into the sky on a clear night. The scale of the population, building, skylines, commerce, wealth, poverty, history, ambition, problems and change in China made me feel small, the way that gazing at the endless stars across the universe can do.
On one night of the trip, I was lucky enough to meet up with my nephew who lives in Beijing. As we walked through the city crowds in a city twice the size of New York, young Sam reminded me that his adopted home is only half the size of China's biggest city. For about the hundredth time that day, I said "Wow."
Interestingly, on the less touristy portions of the trip, I also felt very connected to the individual people of China -- all of whom are floating along in space on this same rock. They are worrying about their kids and their economic future just like the rest of us. They are proud of their country, but skeptical about some of the directions their leaders want to lead. They aren't blessed with the opportunity to look at the stars very often through the smog, but when they do, I believe they're filled with wonder and feelings of insignificance just like I am. I looked at my life, my job, my problems and my relationships differently after traveling to China. And, I'm more convinced than ever that we're all in this together.