As I was driving through the downtown area on my way to work this morning, I was thinking about how I love catching quick glimpses of life happening along the way. From the lounging homeless men loitering in the park to the purposeful walk of a businessman to the determined focus of a cyclist to the socializing group of women sitting outside a cafe; snapshots of life being lived in all of it’s many forms can be seen wherever you look.

I wonder about the lives of the people I see as I pass by. Are they happy where they are at? Are they pursuing their dreams?

During a recent trip to Cambodia, our van broke down by the side of the road in a rural area far from any cities. For a few hours I had the privilege of observing the lives of a few Cambodian families who lived alongside the road. They had small business ventures set up in front of their homes. One family was selling fuel to the passing motos and motorcars. Another had a roadside food stand. Others moved up and down the stretch of highway selling wares, or food. None seemed to be in a hurry, and it was clear they lived a subsistence lifestyle; making just enough money today to cover the needs of today. It was surreal being such a close observer of a scene similar to thousands of others that had flown by the van window during that trip and a dozen others.

In a way I envied their slow-paced existence and their seeming contentment to spend their lives watching others travel by on their way to somewhere they had never been. I found myself wondering, if I had been born to one of these families, would I be content to live out my life in such a small corner of the world. I supposed that if all you knew was contained within a few square miles, and you had no access to TV or the the internet, you might live the extent of your life never knowing what you missed. And although there were clearly aspects to their culture and lifestyle that lent to strong family and community relationships, I found myself very grateful I wasn’t born to a third-world family.

But at the same time, I know that, despite my larger view of the world, I have limitations in my vision based on my subjective position. It is interesting how our expectations of life are so often determined by the limitations of our experience. Sometimes I look at others and feel like I am standing still; sitting next to the highway watching them fly by on their way to somewhere meaningful. Yet, I find that with each new experience; with each new trip abroad; with each book I read; with each new person I meet; with each new road I travel, the world gets bigger, and I feel smaller in the scheme of things. It’s funny how the more you know, the less answers you have.

But aren’t questions more important than answers anyway?