So, my wife and I are two weeks into our new life in Cambodia. We’ve joined a strong and growing church and community development organization in New Life Foundation, Phnom Penh, and slowly our long held desires to follow our passions and dreams are taking form. In the midst of all this, we are also learning new things everyday, all the important things–like that you should always give way to the vehicles traveling and swerving in front because you never know where they will go, or what to do when a Cambodian can’t understand what you’re trying to say in their language because your accent is too broad (smile, and try not to look awkward), and most important of all, how to order coffee (which is a long request…. To do a rough literal translation, Cambodian Coffee is called “Fruit of the Coffee water, with the milk of a cow’s breast, and frozen water”).
The way they serve coffee here is cold and black over ice cubes and condensed milk. It is truly the stuff that dreams are made of. You can buy a glass of this ‘fruit of the Coffee Tree (as a local friend calls it)’ at almost any street stall or open street restaurant. Honestly in the heat, there in nothing more refreshing, or odd. You see, my life back in Australia was built upon Café Lattes–strong and lots of it! I’d average maybe four to six cups over a normal shift at my old workplace, the golden arches fast food chain could brew a mean coffee. I almost felt like I hadn’t worked hard unless I was buzzed out and ready for the next cup.
I know that I am not unquie in my coffee cravings. I know that a lot of people would say that they couldn’t live without their morning coffee, or their two to 10 cups a day. I know that we can now get every conceivable type of coffee there is–Irish Cream, Double or Triple shot whatevers, caramel out of our noses and all the rest that follow. But there has to be something liberating about having coffee in styles and manners that are not our own. To enjoy something that is so alien to what we consider normal can help lift the lid on what it means to really step out and begin to see things differently, and possibly even encourage the fleshing out of dreams.
I’m slowly learning to appreciate the differences, to enjoying the sight of crazed moto drivers dodging each other and pot holes on the haphazard Cambodian roads, to the random power blackouts because the systems are overloaded, to the different foods that can include deep fried crickets, all over a refreshing glass of Cambodian Coffee. I think I’m learning what it means to slow down and take it all in, to see that there is more to life than trying to survive in wilderness places on constant caffeine highs.
I would never say that everyone should pack up their lives and move to a developing nation so as to really experience life. I strongly believe that dreams can and should be lived out any and everywhere in every setting and every locale. But I would say that sometimes–perhaps often–it might be healthy to shake our habits or lifestyles up a bit.
It can’t be as easy as having a different type of coffee, although it could be as easy as sitting in a different setting, or stepping out in new directions, or even being honest with those to whom we are closest and really laying down the things that burn on the heart. Being willing to see things differently. In the end the challenges will always be approaching or circling, but seeing and enjoying differences maybe a prerequisite to seeing what dreams may come true.