Yantai Reflections On The Trip Home And Beyond

To get home, some of us journey a short bike ride, others a short plane ride, and some a full day’s journey back across the international date line. It can be disorienting when you leave a country on a certain date, travel 24 hours home, and arrive only a few hours later on the same day you left.


On the endless plane ride, if you want to sleep you keep your widow closed as you chase the morning light arching across the globe for 12 hours straight. Your  body is confused, as it should be, by eating airplane meals at unadjusted times and the bombardment of light from the small screen in front of you.


I doze and wake again and again to view the flight tracker marking my journey’s progress on the screen. I could have sworn I slept more than just an hour, but so it goes. I am  aware that I’m crossing the international date, but the surreality of this doesn’t strike me until I actually land only a few hours later on the same morning I left -- but I’ve been traveling almost 24 hours! I’m  dazed and overwhelmed and almost numb to the feelings of relief, excitement, and sadness over my return...


In short, I am experiencing a surreal conclusion to a surreal month in Yantai, and I am still just a bit too tired to process much of it.


After a good shower and a long sleep, it  feels like I have returned from a dream state different from jetlag. Did I forget to brush my teeth before drifting off, because a faint taste of a month in China lingers on my lips, tongue, teeth?


Perhaps all of us who were in Yantai need more time to comprehend what we have been through, and built. What happened at the latest Pacific Rim Park was more than a park rising from a distant beach. It was and still is an almost inexplicable — some might say magical — occurrence.


The foremost truth is this: we grew our family. We experienced and added layers of magic to a community by becoming aware that we already were, are, and always will be a part of The Pacific — a family where we are loved and connected. For me, this has become a cherished memory. The lessons and changes I and my teammates learned and witnessed there will transform our lives at  home — for the rest of our lives.


Now the main question in our minds changes. At first we asked, “What is this?” Now we ask,  “What was this?” Soon we will ask, “What can this be?”


How we can bring the spirit of Tides Park in Yantai, and that of our collective family, home in a way can we build a lasting understanding of our human family’s interconnectivity?  

Only time will reveal the answers and any tangible changes we make in ourselves and our world, but I am sure that if answers can be found, they will be by this new Pacific Rim Park family.  We are those who found — and will always find — a way to help.