This book is the work of a mother’s separate travels with her two daughters: one visits Nepal and Bhutan, the other to Colombia. The two kids take the trips for specific reasons: to learn about total happiness and to work for an NGO that is helping with war-torn conflicts. The travels are enlightening for all parties concerned and are what Meg Stafford — who has written a regular column for years — says is an ongoing kaleidoscope of learning together with her daughters. She is a therapist, so her work listening and analyzing people comes through quite loudly in this memoir.
The travels aren’t your usual tourist romps through colorful foreign lands, but offer real insights into both the people they encounter along the way and the lessons they have learned about themselves and their own family relationships. “The more we know ourselves, the easier it is to connect with others, and the more connected we are with them,” she writes.
Regarding happiness, “the best way to predict it is to follow the example of someone who is currently where you will be in the future.”
There is also a lot describing problem-solving. “everything depends on how you use your mind. The way to solve the problems in your life is to open your heart to others.”
And this insight: “Parents cannot eliminate risk. We can shore up our children so that when they encounter it they can make better and more informed choices.
The women learn that tragedy is the same in any language, but humor doesn’t translate so easily, and there are lots of moments across this spectrum.
The title comes from answering the question about who we will accompany, not just in physical travel across the world but across our life. “We cannot always know but we can hold them close when they are near, so we can still hold them when they are far with arms outstretched.”
For those who enjoy memoirs and appreciate travel, this is a very appealing book.