Some of the best things in life have come to me through my travels. My husband was a pretty amazing souvenir and a taste for sparkling water is something I’ll always have. But there have also been the lessons, like how to properly cliff jump or how to communicate with a street stand seller cooking you a spider (leave me a comment if you need to hear more about that 🙂 )
But the most embarrassing thing that came from my travels is very easily the olive oil incident.
Yes, I just made that name up, but the embarrassment is oh so real.
It goes back to the year 2014 when I decided to save up and go on my dream trip around the world on a study abroad with BYU. When I say we went around the world, I mean it. We started in London, ended in Beijing and circumnavigated the globe.
But on to the olive oil.
It was our second stop in Athens, Greece where I made my big faux pas.
Our bus dropped us off in a plaza area and we were free to find a place to eat. I was absolutely thrilled being a huge fan of Greek food.
A group of us found a place that looked good, I ordered my favorite Greek food, and then we waited forever for it to be prepared.
And that was when I really dropped the ball.
What do you do when you’re waiting on your food? Eat bread, of course. And you know, Greece is a place famous for olive oil, so you kind of have to try that too!
So I poured so olive oil in the dish in front of me and took a bite. Preventing hangryness is seriously important!
And then someone says, “Who put olive oil in the ashtray?”
In America, we often put olive oil and vinegar in little dishes so our plates don’t become pools of oils.
But I wasn’t in America.
I laughed along with my group and tried to defend myself with the above statement. Then I tried to throw the olive oil in the nearby bushes so the Greeks wouldn’t notice I’d done it. I was very careful to avoid this embarrassing travel faux pas during the rest of my travels throughout Europe.
But ashtrays and olive oil dishes aren’t the only things that appear similar.
This is actually one of the things that builds my testimony the most. When my faith is questioned, I think about what I would do if I wasn’t Mormon, but the thing is, I don’t want to do anything differently. I don’t want to break any of the commandments or change my lifestyle in any way because I can see how those things offer an illusion of immediate pleasure and escapism, but nothing more.
Recently I learned about ‘buffering’ (learn more about it here). It’s the idea of what we do when we try to escape the hard parts of life – watching TV, overeating, drinking, whatever mindless things take our thoughts away from what’s really happening in our lives. For some reason, we have this idea that the only thing we should experience in life is happiness and if we aren’t happy, something’s wrong.
When we buffer, we’re seeking artificial pleasure. We’re spending our time on things that seem like good things, things that make us happy, but in reality, we’re doing nothing. We’re escaping. But we’re not here to seek pleasure or to escape uncomfortable feelings. We’re here to learn.
I’ve been thinking a lot about embracing pain lately. Challenges, pain, hard times, they are exactly why we are here on Earth, but we try to avoid them constantly. What if we weren’t so afraid of the difficulties we know are going to come up? What if we welcomed them?
I recently heard someone say that the pain we’re willing to endure, leads to the things we accomplish.
If we’re willing to endure the pain of going to the gym, we get stronger.
If we’re willing to endure the fear of speaking in public, we help others.
If we’re willing to endure the discomfort of turning away from what tempts us, we strengthen our faith.
We don’t get anywhere by buffering or going after things that seem like they’ll make us happy. Men are that they might have joy, not that they might have mindless pleasure.
I completely acknowledge that this is something I need to learn. I am probably one of the worst at accepting the pain and challenges of life. I seriously wonder why we chose to do this and go through this at times. But then I remind myself that this is happening for me. Nothing happens to me. It’s all for my own personal growth.
Whew! That is some heavy stuff, pain, blood, sweat, and tears. Back to the funny.
Will you share your biggest travel faux pas with me? Or maybe your thoughts on buffering and escaping pain?