Rock me gently,
Rock me slowly
Not having been much of a Neil Diamond fan I was surprised to find myself humming these lyrics as I awoke a few weeks back. Most likely my body’s way of telling me to go gently on myself as I transition back into life in Vancouver after nine months away.
The place I proudly called home for the last 30 years.
All that changed long before I embarked on new adventures. The stodgy boundaries of my comfort zone screamed for boot camp. It meant removing myself from all things familiar and taking that all-important first step.
Of living everything.
Of giving up control.
Of being OK with not knowing.
What I got was nothing short of amazing.
Probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
It was a year of warmth and solitude, with no agenda, no itinerary. I reveled in all things slow. Stopping to watch something that would normally pass me by on my way to get somewhere. Allowing myself to do nothing tangible or productive without self-judgement or guilt. When you have no destination but the journey itself you get to experience life in a whole new way.
A good traveller according to Lao Tzu is “one that has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
I like that.
I met more people than I could have ever imagined, shared dinners with strangers, slept in countless beds, listened to amazing stories and learned more about places than I’d ever thought at the outset.
All this I am sure, because I was alone.
With no one to join me at events, or turn to in an emergency, or walk with everyday, or talk with at night there was both a discomfort AND a heady freedom.
Strangers are eager to help out the solo traveler. The vulnerability of being alone resonates with people everywhere it seems. Launching yourself into conversation with total strangers is the order of the day. There’s no holding back.
The flip side of course, is with too much solitude comes loneliness. I experienced plenty of both. Yet glad to say that tears were more often triggered by a gratitude and joy for being alive than by sadness.
My girls traveled with me everywhere: a photograph of one, the ashes of the other left in some of the most beautiful places imaginable. The poignance and healing in that simple act no words can fully express. Over the year, what used to gut me each time I unscrewed the cap from it’s small container gave way to a comfort and joy, allowing me to mend just a little more each time, knowing that another part of me was letting her go.
I’m now convinced that a grieving heart can only be healed through gratitude and wonder.
I remain full of questions and am all right with that.In the words of the marvelous poet, David Whyte
Let my history then
be a gate unfastened
to a new life
and not a barrier
to my becoming…