Life is a long and winding journey.
Do you give yourself space to feel it?
I developed a need to travel early in life; I felt trapped by my circumstances, the abuse that I experienced, and the silence that I endured around that.
I wanted to travel to learn that other ways of life were possible, so I could come back and teach everyone I knew that they were there. I learned quickly that those people weren’t interested.
People only change if they want to
I travelled far and wide; I found a job that allowed me to travel. I did laps around the globe. I visited four out of the seven continents; all bar one or two of the cultures of Europe, and Asia. I’ve been to two countries in South America, and I’ve visited the USA numerous times. I’ve been to almost all the counties in the UK.
All for the searching.
I’ve got a wealth of knowledge to draw on about the world’s cultures; embodied experience of sitting amongst those people.
Whilst we eat and they tell their stories; sharing festivals with them; drinking rice wine with them; talking to them in their language; gesturing hand signals; laughing with them without language; falling in love with people for who they are — beyond language; listening to their intonations; the rise and fall of their life.
Ironically, it didn’t bring me any closer to understanding myself.
I’ve been doing more in-depth work in that area in the last couple of years; I guess you could say that I turned my explorer nature inward, I came back to my childhood town, and started psychotherapy. I’ve been walking the old paths here, visiting the place where I was abused numerous times — settling into the memory — accepting it.
One of my all time favourite movies is ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, and I don’t know where to start with explaining why. I first watched it in Bangalore, at the start of a life changing backpacking adventure. There’s so much life in that movie. One of the narrations is so profound:
“Is it our friend we are grieving for, whose life we knew so little? Or is it our own loss that we are mourning? Have we traveled far enough that we can allow our tears to fall?”
Did I travel far enough for the tears to fall? No. I was travelling as a distraction.
Did travelling help me to get to this point? Absolutely. It gave me the awareness, depth, courage, witnessing of beauty, poverty, pain, exhalation, inhalation, the breathless wonder of nature.
It was a grounding for the inner exploration, a constant anchor in the depth of the dark night. Whilst the tempest whipped all around me.
When I came back home and stopped moving, I had a harsh time feeling. Those first six months were gnarly! My relationships suffered as I shook and squirmed. I acted out; I allowed people to walk over me; I was in crisis and chaos.
After that period, I started to stabilise. I had built a stable and trusting relationship with my therapist. Something I didn’t know was possible. Now, I knew it was possible and what to look for. I went out, found the people in my life that I could trust, that stuck around through the storm, and the chaos. Who loved me for me, not for an image, or the status I provided them.
I know those people now, and I am profoundly grateful.
When this happened, the tears started to fall. I felt that I knew myself well enough and that I was safe enough with the people in my life, to know my tears, and allow them to move through me. I knew that my friends would hold that experience in our conversations and that I could hold theirs in turn.
We’re taught not to cry in general, and men have shame for it. Let me tell you, trying is the most beautiful and relieving experience I’ve ever known.
I was now deep in the journey; I’d taken the call.
It’s like Joseph Campbell describes:
The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero.
The Universe upends you, calls you into the action; into the arena, the fray. I heeded that call and off I went. I had faith, and now I’m following my bliss.
Writing, coaching, playing music, serving.
That first six months was testing, but once you step through the door on the hero’s journey, there’s no turning back, and I had a distinct awareness of that. I tried to go back many times, only to meet the closed door.
The number one factor in life becoming a joy again after that time, was to accept that I am now on the journey, so to speak.
It’s been a curious and wonderful experience, interspersed with deep pain, fear, hardship, grief, sadness. Whenever I feel, I feel deeply and intensely; I have to go all in. I’m a hypersensitive person.
Now I am training in somatics; sensing my body’s messages. There’s such a wealth of information in the body.
One of the things that stands out to me is the amount of tension that is held in the body subconsciously. Becoming aware of the body allows me to release this tension; it took a bit of work to get there, and it’s been a significant shift in my life.
My cousin recommended Ray’s book to me; we laughed about it. He said it was like a strange circle. He’d found the book because we’d been talking about the journey together; sharing our stories. Then he recommended it to me, and it was exactly what I’d needed; I loved it! He said that it was like I told myself to get the book.
~ We’re all just walking each other home ~ Ram Dass ~
There’s a subtle truth to this quote; we are all just helping each other to open up; communicate, trust, feel safe in the world. Safe enough to express our true essence. Our Self.
Being at home has really allowed me to embody my essence, and now I’m sure about who I am, and what I want going forward. I’m still on the path, it always takes courage to overcome fear, and I’m still working out how to secure myself in the world around this essence.
Now, I have a story to tell, and the voice to tell it.
The difference is I’m not distracting myself anymore, I stopped drinking, smoking, doing recreational drugs, overeating, watching TV, and I live intentionally, as much I can. I still have the voice that says that I sound boring when I say that sentence; you’d be surprised. My life is more vibrant and alive than I’ve ever experienced, my face is more my face, I’m embodying my words more, my voice has more expression, when I sing I can sing from the place that I feel, my range is increasing, I’m able to nuance the notes.
Whatever your talent and gift is; wherever your bliss is, there’s a whole lot more waiting for you to discover.
Life opens up for you if you’re willing; believe me, there’s way more to it than you thought. There’s always one more step on the fractal ladder.
Have you travelled far enough for your tears to fall?
Do you still hold them in your body?
Who would you go to if you needed a good cry? Can you hold your tears?
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Karthik Chandran on Unsplash