So six years ago a left the modern world, a confirmed–never never do that again bachelor and one who had lived a long time without much interaction with children.
Time and time on this voyage, i have had my heart strings tugged and my brain jostled by kids. The connection with a few cruising families and their kids proved to be an enlightening and rewarding experience. From them i saw kids in a whole new light. But these were kids living my dream and in my world so not such a huge leap.
It is the kids i have shared time with from 3rd world remote villages that have given me the real topsy-turvy lessons in life, lessons that have rocked most of my beliefs of how the world works. i have had to totally redefine happiness, not a word most of us ponder yet seek our entire lives. It was the lesson that SE Asia has given me, the lesson that all i thought of value may be off, that what it takes to be happy was way off. It seems that it just might be possible that i really had no frigging idea what happiness was until i looked into the big brown loving eyes of an Asian child.
First thing: happiness is an emotion not an accumulation of events or things. When you have it you know it. Happiness is not a product of rational thought, quite the opposite. Why if the little girls here had any sense or rational thinking they would be miserable!
So what is the source of such sublime happiness in what we would call abject poverty? It seems that a strong and secure family providing security is the foundation. Tony Robbins lists the five human needs, starting with security. Kids raised in small rural 2nd or 3rd world villages with huge extended families are given a level of security found in few other places, they know real, all encompassing love.
So it is with this new knowledge that i went to Dona’s small village for their annual Fiesta. Her family has 6 daughters, four living at home, all tall gorgeous, smart and dedicated family members, family does come first and is the source of their joy. The family live in a small cement block home, common here but would be seen crude by US, track home standards. They are clearly part of the community and the neighbors families merge so as to be hard to tell apart at first. Neighbor kids, young ones flock to this home all day long, a sign of the love that surrounds it.
It is tempting to lavish in the love and affection of the small kids, and i do, but this time i leaped deeper and in not as comfy territory. Three you lads, about ten, all cousins, sat and chatted with me for a long time. One was clearly the leader and the smart one. We talked about music and the idea of him being an airline pilot. He turned to his cousin and said, ” you have to live your true life”. When i asked what this ten year old living in a stone hut meant, he said, “the gay life”, then told me the cousin was gay but a bit afraid to tell his Dad. Well it seems everyone else knows and is supportive, actually it seems not to be such a big deal, all feel dad will get over it. i had never seen such a level of acceptance. i read about the high suicide rate of transgender American youth and think this kid is pretty lucky to be where he is.
Then we moved to the last of the cousins, the smart one told me his Dad had been shot. Again i queried, and found out he was in the military and shot in an ambush by the MLF, the radical Muslim separatist group a year ago. So i went from joking and teasing, my usual kid encounter, to real life, real deep conversations, unlike i had ever experienced and more than i bargained for. So once again, the teacher becomes the student and the student becomes the teacher as i listen to what the children say.