It has been a year since I returned from my six-month jaunt and there is something about anniversaries that invites me to take stock.
It’s been a big year and in a way it’s been a bit of a strange year.
In no particular order, here are a few things I have learned:
- Taking six months out of one’s regular life is nowhere near as big a deal as I thought it would be. The day before leaving, it felt as though the stretch ahead of me was huge. It was not. I returned to my familiar world looking just about the same as I had left it, and I slipped back into it fairly easily. Sure it took a bit of organizing to make the trip happen, but truly, this is nowhere as much of an upheaval as we may think.
- I am probably never going to be the same. My insides have been re-arranged. In some ways I am much more tender and vulnerable than I used to be, and in others I am much more magnanimous and detached. It’s a strange combination and it still feels a little unfamiliar. I have seen both ends of the spectrum take my friends by surprise and it is possible that this has affected them more than me. For this, I apologize.
- I have lost my right to the illusion of “I would be so much happier in __________.” I have learned that whether in the sophisticated bustle of a Rome café, the rawness of a refugee center in Greece, the wildness of a Moroccan market maze or the peacefulness of Tuscan Hills, there I am: me and my thoughts, me and my ways, my opinions, my weaknesses, my strengths, my me-ness, in various languages and colors. Yes, we show up a little bit differently in response to our environment, but not so much as to hang on to the illusion that where we are is the big game changer. That one realization is sobering, inconvenient, and a clear call to courageous inner work.
- My family matters to me even more than I ever knew. Mine is very small and god knows it has its idiosyncracies (yours may too). But it’s mine and I cherish it to the core, including the parts of it that came way before I was born.
- I have a deep love for being currently anchored and creating from the beauty and safety of my home, and I know that now is the time to do just this.
- A seed has been planted in me and I will be going back out again when the time is right. Back to the unknown, the heart-shaking, soul-growing simplicity of packing a few things on my back and surrendering to the universe’s well honed tour guide abilities. Because I want to make sure not to rush this moment, I am staying away from the backpack aisle of travel stores.
This leaves me with the daily duel between my deep desire to drive to the dog rescue shelter and pick up my new large furry soul mate - and taking a calming / sanity walk around the block instead, reminding myself of how unreasonable it would be. Maybe. I am not sure how long this one will last.
In the end, so many contrasts. So many ways to dance with life and with our yearnings.
Today, I invite you to dare to consider stepping out of your life, even for just a day. I wholeheartedly encourage you to not make too many set plans about it, too. Start by making a date. Beginning and end - even if they are the same day. Add a smidgin of organization, breathe in a big gulp of faith, and make it happen.
Wishing you a lovely rest of the day.