When I set out on this adventure I knew that I needed something different in my life. I was looking to break out of my routine and learn new things. I was looking for something challenging and new. A deeper meaning and understanding of this world. I wasn't exactly sure what I expected to find, but looking back on the last 5 months, there is one theme that has stood out more than any other. One profound idea and insight that I've gained that has not only helped change me into a better person, but restored by faith in humanity.
Kindness. Kindness in all its forms and from all different people. It is so easy to fall into daily routines that are safe and protect us from ever having to make ourselves and our loved ones venerable to ever having to rely on the whims and fancies of those around us. The thought alone is slightly terrifying, but it was a side effect of the choice we made when we decided to give everything away and move to Magdeburg, Germany.
On almost a daily basis we found ourselves helpless in a face of a new challenge, from little things like ordering food in a restaurant to big things like where do we live and how do we get our visa? For every challenge there was always someone there to help us. Granted, most of these people were our friends, but our friends showed us such kindness that it almost makes me cry just thinking about it. They gave up their time to help us deal with bureaucratic issues. They gave up their privacy to house us. They gave up their possessions to make our lives more comfortable. When we had a problem, they stood behind us until it was fixed. I've rarely witnessed such generosity with such pure intention. I will forever be grateful to have gotten to be a part of my friend's lives while living in Magdeburg, and I miss them more than they know.
It wasn't only my friends that showed us kindness. Complete strangers went out of their way to make our lives better. From the college kids that gave Ilya their last ice cream on a hot afternoon in the park to the woman in the social security office who cut through weeks worth of red tape so that I could get my social security number that day.
I didn't set out to put myself or my family in such a venerable position, at the mercy of strangers, but it was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. My goal now is to pay all this kindness forward. Maybe that is how I change the world. One person at a time.