Over the past two and a half years, I have been traveling back to the Midwest with greater and greater frequency. I love our life in the nation's capital, but more and more I find myself stretching the length of visits "home" so I can savor the disruption of routine and reap the benefits of slowing down and reconnecting with the people and places that shaped who I am.
Our most recent trip, however, promised to be distinct from the usual rhythms of easy conversation, shared meals, and reminiscing. We were traveling back to reconnect with relatives with whom we had been out of touch in recent years, and no one knew exactly what to expect. Could we find common ground despite significant cultural differences? How would we communicate across the language barrier?
With an uncomfortable lack of certainty, we set out and hoped for the best. While the initial contact was fraught with anxiety, we soon found our stride. Following the lead of our children, who immediately entered into the common language of play, guards were let down, connections were forged, and important memories were created.
We all choose different paths for different reasons. Rather than fixating on what separates us from one another, we can choose to focus on what we have in common. In doing so, we put ourselves in a position to learn new things and see the world from another point of view. What could you learn by pausing to peek down a different path?