I want so much for you. I know that you are all privileged in this world and that physically you want for nothing. And yet, I still want for you.
I want you all to travel. Not to see the wonders of the world, or to check 1000 places off of your list of things to do. I want you each to expand your mind and your heart by meeting people and and having experiences that you will never discover in your hometown.
Many of you have begun. You’ve studied and/or lived in countries in which you haven’t known the language or the customs. You’ve done volunteer work far away. You’ve lived with families and on small ships. You’ve wandered, working in schools and orphanages in Africa. You’ve trekked in Nepal and seen the killing fields of Cambodia.
There is still more. Whether you sit by a pool in a five star resort, or study in Ecuador, you will meet people who see life differently and who live in ways that you can scarcely comprehend. If your heart and mind are open, you will be transformed.
My first awakening was many years ago on the beach near a fine hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I talked with a woman who was selling roses to the tourists. We talked about our lives and our children. Her little girl clung to her apron as the young mother tried to make enough money to help feed her family.
Since then I have sat on a bench in Vernazza, Italy, and listened to the difficulties of a middle-aged widow whose children had moved away. Living in a small town on the sea below a rocky hillside was hard and lonely for her.
I’ve spent time with an elderly woman in Calabria who wondered why she had outlived her son. She mourned living in her last years with photographs and grief.
I’ve shared walks and dreams with young women. And I’ve had the joy of seeing children read books and paint pictures because I have spent the time and energy to provide them with what they need.
This last month, the history of my own state came to life for me when I spent hours with two disciples of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. They had lived in Pune, India, and in Antelope, Oregon. They shared the “whys” and the “hows” of their time with him.
I have sat at a funeral and danced at a wedding in Mexico. And I’ve celebrated Orthodox Easter in Greece with a family who are now my friends. I’ve joined in religious processions around the world that became meaningful to me because of the faith and passion of the people surrounding me.
These experiences have changed me. I’ve learned not to judge others’ lives by my own standards. Sharing time with the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, has given me gratitude for what I have and made me hungry to learn what I cannot find in books. It has helped me appreciate my differences and to realize that I am the same.
Your travels and experiences, and your choices won’t be the same. Follow your individual paths. You will learn more than I have.
I want that for you. I want you to catch a glimpse of yourself in people whom you may never had noticed had you not taken the time to sit and share and observe. You will be wise to comprehend your fortunate birth and still value different circumstances.
What I really want you to understand is that wealth is not necessarily money and the greatest riches in life are not worldly possessions. This is a lot of wanting, isn’t it?