A year ago, I began my year of travel in the last continent of Antarctica. A year later, I have now returned home. 2016 is now coming to an end, and it has been a while since my last "chat" with you.
So, where have I been?
When I left you in July, some of you reached out to me asking me "Where's Asma now". It was a pleasant way for me to keep in touch with you. There were many others I left in the dark. They waited patiently till I completed my trip so they could hear my stories and share their own. I would like to thank you as well.
In the last half year, I have experienced loss, rekindled my ability to feel small joys, and met old acquaintances. It is not easy for me to say, but after the first 6 months of my trip, I was fairly broken. Emotionally exhausted. Logistically I was a marvel and could plan a trip at a moment's notice, but compassion fatigue had set in and I needed a break.
As I reflect back on my year with you, I realize that it was not the people or the places that made my trip. It was not even the moments. It was the minute acts of kindness; the hope that there was some empathy, generosity, and bond between a stranger, a family member, and myself for a brief passing minute.
After my trip, there was no transformative happiness and I sensed a feeling of disenchantment, apathy, and hopelessness. After all, change requires time, and my brief interactions with people were not sufficient to support or change thoughts and beliefs in a meaningful way, a way that supports kindness and compassion . In fact, some may never change.
I had hoped to inspire. But my impact is unknown, and that is okay.
The past year has been tumultuous in many ways, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see the world at exactly this time. It has been a time when we wonder if our differences will be recognized and understood - age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and political views. A time when we wonder if it is important to change beliefs as long as actions do not harm. A time when we were unsure how to help, and whom to trust as sources of information.
Is it necessary to make a difference, or is it necessary to just act differently?
The good news is - I have truly recognized the power of hope. An opiate that inspires many to form a bond with strangers, to give a compliment, to trigger an emotional reaction which brings them to make a donation, to offer a seat or a smile or say sorry for being in your way. Although it seems that those with hope may be unrealistic, living in a childhood fantasy, doomed to realize that nothing will change. It is a force that helps us live.
This new year brings hope to those who would like to leave the past year behind. And while I may not wish to do that, I will be accepting my new life and old routine as most of the world does and dream of a future where we work to live and not live to work. This new year, I will continue my blog posts and hope to see your comments, but I will hope without expectation as I know this is a venue for me to express myself and for my hidden readers to connect with me in thought even when they remain hidden.
In solidarity and yours very truly, one-woman-who-hopes-she-is-empowered.