A large part of my 30 hour trip home was spent debating how to sum up my trip in one entry.

I’ll make it even easier. I’ll sum it up in one sentence.

I’ve learned how to listen.

My whole life I’ve learned how to speak. How to express myself. How to present myself.

But when I arrived in New Zealand, I was thrown into a Hebrew speaking world. Suddenly, I could not make jokes. I could not use wit or sarcasm as defenses. I struggled to hear, translate, think of replies, and translate those responses before the conversation flowed forward to a new subject.

Most of the time it was easier to sit quietly.

And I listened, not for the sake of replying, but for the sake of understanding. And as a result, I began seeing the world through different eyes.

Through the eyes of the travelers that I met.

And then there was Nepal.

In Nepal, neither party needs to speak.

That entire country begs you to stop talking and to start paying attention to what surrounds you. To try to notice details. To begin hearing that which is not said. To remember what is important in life.

You feel it in the eyes of the people who live there. You feel it in their stares which hold your gaze for much longer than what is comfortable.

And there are different kinds of stares. There are stares that undress you. There are stares that evaluate you. There are stares that judge you.

But these stares are different. These stares don’t do anything to you. They just emanate that single word.

Listen.

They hold a sense of calm. A sense of peace. A recognition of common humanity. These people do not have much, but their stares make you feel like they know it all.

They make you feel like you are standing on the wrong side of the road. That you should not be opposite one another, but adjacent.

Family is a foundation stone there. Generosity is standard. I walk into the home of a family with nearly nothing and signal to the woman of the household that I love her only piece of jewelry. Next thing I know, she won’t take no for an answer and the ring is on my finger.

Connections are made easily and suddenly, you are family. Rather than connecting on a level of what we say, we connect on a level of who we are.

Silences do not always need to be filled. It is in those pauses that the flavors of life are exchanged.

We don’t always need to be the ones speaking. In fact, life is more dynamic when we are not.

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