Protests, police presence.. I’ve returned to America.

So, I’m back in the San Francisco, Bay Area! What an amazing journey it’s been. My last post wasn’t very uplifting, and I’m not sure if this one will be either, but my next post will be dedicated to the awesome time I had in Prague once I relaxed and let things happen naturally. I can’t say I have a point defined in this post either, mostly sharing my thoughts.. but anyway, let’s focus on my return.

Currently, I’m in a cozy bed in my sister’s guest room. Returning home after 1.5 years has been a bit odd and surreal. It feels like everything is the same and only minimal changes have occurred, but it’s too soon to say. I haven’t gone out to explore yet. So far, it’s been a mentally refreshing experience to see my familiar home with new eyes. Unfortunately I’ve come back during a turbulent time. The streets are filled with protestors who are speaking out against police violence. They demand justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and other black men and boys who have died at the hands of white police officers. This is no doubt a sensitive topic, and I can feel the tension amongst citizens here. Just last night my BART train was stopped for 20 minutes because a few protestors were in the train tracks. When I arrived to the airport and my sister picked me up, we had barely missed a huge mass of protestors marching through the route we needed to take home using the bay bridge. Needless to say my 2 days back have been a bit more intense than I had anticipated.

More on the story.

A defining moment for me was when I was taking an escalator down to the Embarcadero BART metro station. Above me I could see angry protestors shouting down. I was approaching police officers, gazing up at the protestors holding signs that included phrases like “Police are murderers.” Most of the officers had young faces, probably new to the force. I could feel that they were evaluating the situation and possibly evaluating the career choice they’ve made. I got chills as I passed them all. Right in between the chaos I made eye contact with both parties and I hurt for both of them.

I still followed the news while I was abroad, but being right in the mix has been bizarre. It’s made me want to retreat to another travel destination to avoid thinking about such topics as police corruption, discrimination, violence, inequality, racism, etc. Once I have these feelings, I feel guilty. I might be able to pack up and leave but what about everyone else? Can I take them with me? To travel and learn to live in the moment, cherish life and love one another? Hmm.. ok, I should stay and help society achieve peace. That was my initial goal after all. I studied criminology to be the change within the system, but I quickly learned the system is hard to break. So how else can I help? When I can’t think of an answer, I think of flight tickets.

Sometimes during my travels I feel like I’m abandoning my friends and family. I feel like the lessons I’ve learned abroad are important to leading a meaningful life. When I realize that most of my friends and family won’t be able to do as I do, I get sad. Traveling can be quite the isolating journey. Rather than let these thoughts depress me, I remind myself to be a good person. That’s my life motto. It can be too ambiguous for most, but it works for me. I want to promote good energy and positive encounters. I want to help people. I want to make the world a better place. Traveling has taught me that if you want it to happen, you can make it happen. I may not be in the best of times at home, but I’ll try my best to make some kind of good impact on the community. When all the chaos and sadness goes on in the world, it’s the best time to reach out and offer kindness.

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