After every trip I come home from, I’m always unhappy to get back to reality. Not in the sense that I don’t like my life but in the sense that when a trip ends for me it means I have to go back to having all my responsibilities like cleaning and running errands and working.  When I travel, it is a nice little escape from all my responsibilities as an adult and I get the chance to just immerse myself in a different city with so many new things to see.  I am able to put all my attention on exploration and curiosity rather than responsibility and being an adult.

After I got back from my recent travels, I was talking with a coworker the day after I landed and I found myself saying “I’m sad to be back.”

I said this because it was true. But what really prompted me to say this was the fact that coming back meant going back to work, having to go grocery shopping, dealing with being bored at work and basically doing everything I’m supposed to do as an adult. I always feel this way after a trip and it’s become a pretty common thing for me to feel because I go through this exhilarating experience of seeing something new and seeing the world. Returning to my every day life is just not as exciting.

But, what I didn’t realize was that the day I found myself telling my coworker that I was sad to be back would be the day I found out my mentor passed away.

I was sad in the morning because I had to be a responsible adult.

But, realizing that someone who impacted my life greatly has passed away has really changed that perspective.  I don’t regret telling people I was sad for returning after this trip. But it is not the way I will describe returning home anymore. Losing my mentor on this day was a reminder for me that all those things I was dreading to do are just minor things. Life is too short to be complaining about things like this and I need to embrace everything I get to do and think positively about everything. Why should I be spending my time focused on the negative and being unhappy?

You see, my mentor was a great advocate for Asian Americans in Seattle.  I met him through a leadership program in which he connected us to various Asian American leaders throughout the greater Seattle area.  He was an advocate for all people, helped everyone he came in contact with and loved every person in his life. He battled cancer for a year and a half but you would never know it. He was still active in the Seattle community speaking out for people, standing up for what he believed in and being a part of the shaping Seattle. Even though he was going through chemotherapy, he continued to pursue his passions up until the day he passed away.

With his passing being so close to the start of the new year, it is a reminder to just focus on what I am passionate about and that life is too short. I feel so honored to have met him and been impacted by his great leadership and advice. Rather than grieving him, I will celebrate his life and use what he taught me to embrace everything in my life.

After my next trip, I will not respond by telling people I am sad to be back. I will say that I am excited to be apart of what my return has in store for me. I am so sad that I had to lose someone like my mentor to be reminded of this but I will celebrate his life by ensuring I live my life to the fullest going forward and embracing the challenges of real life each day.


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