It is day 50 of being away. But I don’t feel “away”. This trip has been exceptionally more than I fathomed, and a part of me never wants to leave. Perhaps a part of me never will.
I saved up this past year in order to see this expedition be brought to life. Usually an expedition is more than one person, but I feel like various parts of me trekked along — the ones that feel lost and afraid, as well as the ones that are excited and ready. They packed their bags and trusted me. They trusted that I was aware enough that who I am and how I feel were not going to be at odds.
Feeling and being are two different things. I can feel inadequate, but I am not so. I can feel unworthy, but that is garbage. I am both the scared little girl who never felt good enough and the woman who is on a courageous search to find herself.
However, it’s not really accurate– “finding yourself”. I haven’t gone around shaking bushes or lifting rocks assuming pieces of me will be discovered. It is more so about energy and gravity. What pulls me in. What holds me in peace and comfort. What brings substance to this moldable life.
It varies for each human being. And, it is transformative. We are ever changing with age, with experience, with circumstance. There is no constant, only ebbs and flows.
Right now, it isn’t thrills I am after. It isn’t heavy drink or sexual conquests or coaxed inhibition. But tenderness. Nature beneath my bare feet. A window with a view. Making love. Being.
I haven’t been able to just be since my health took control. She is constantly at the helm, steering and maneuvering my decisions, influencing my doubt, and poking holes in my fuel tank. The other shoe always drops and I am riddled with cricks in my neck from watching my own back. She steals the joy I try so hard to cultivate, to hold near. Thinking positive thoughts doesn’t outweigh reality. Sometimes, it’s even to my detriment. We are meant to embrace all emotions. We must acknowledge them all because that is where compassion lives. Where growth lives. So, I dug out my magnifying glass and sampled the emotions that crept into my bones on a daily basis. Gratitude was one. Fear another. And instead of living in fear’s shadow, I decided to take him on. To everything I clutched — my job, my apartment, my unhappy comforts — I let them go.
It was completely uncharacteristic of me to just unravel my life, especially with my health on such an uneven foundation. But I was suffocating. I didn’t recognize my life anymore.
Not in my career.
Not in love.
Not in my surroundings.
It was time to change the dimming lightbulb. To Elizabeth Gilbert my entire existence. I placed my belongings into a storage unit, then packed what could fit into three luggage totes.
I could not, and cannot, keep drowning in the deep end of my own life. My health, still a hurdle, would not stop me.
Now, she has tried. She has caused quite the disturbance on this journey, but tantrums will no longer equate to giving up on myself. She can scream and wail and throw off my plans, but she will not hold the reigns.
This time away from the states, from the familiarity of normal life, has been affirming. It was daunting at first, and still is at moments. But necessary. I’ve been able to catch my breath. I’ve been able to marvel and laugh and give. I didn’t let those feelings of inadequacy break me. Instead, I took leaps and risks. I let someone in. I’ve been vulnerable in ways that soften me and build me all at once.
It really does change your life when you stop and look around. You assess what you will and will not tolerate any longer. And even though you may not have the best idea where you are heading, you at least know it’s in the opposite direction — and that is enough.
I took every signal and sign from the universe and went. I don’t regret it for a second.
I’ve written thousands of words. A limitless merry-go-round of stories compiled in my mind.
I’ve witnessed strangers cavorting in a street square, boisterous and drunk as they commemorate their favorite saint. There were lanterns, music, fireworks, and youthful revelry. Midnight was for celebrating, not sleeping.
I’ve witnessed history and nature. I sang loudly (and off key) at a concert with beautiful friends, held a wiggling pet chicken, and even got lost in a maze that is over 300 years old.
I’ve witnessed art, a town dedicated to the most famous writer of all time. From provincial living to King Richard brought to life, I breathed in awe at each line memorized on the stage. My own flat, in itself a stage, revealed that life is more about moments than things. The simplicity that can free us from coveting what is not our own.
I’ve witnessed passion and grace, arms long enough to melt away a trepidation I wrestle with everyday. They played bewitching chords on a piano and displayed kindness through a keyboard. To see yourself through the eyes of others is compulsory, a way to remember that you are more than your biggest hurt.
I still have two weeks left before I return home, though I have no intention of settling back into my old routine. Those roots have been upheaved, in no hurry for burial. My wings are more important than meeting the ground.
I will also not be settling for mediocre health. The human spirit may not be impenetrable, but it is resilient. Every year I beg the universe for better health, yet it never comes. This year will be different. I will no longer be asking.
So, cheers to the unknown. It’s been a gift to drift along in this nomadic sea, coddiwompling.