The Cozy Couch or the World's Wonders?
Okay, I'm giving in. I'm ready to entertain the possibility of a grand adventure.
The frigid temps in Cleveland have opened the floodgates for talk of exotic vacations, resorts, retreats, beaches, and breathtaking mountains. These spectacular trips are too in line with my forever-daydreams to keep ignoring. Between Netflix documentaries, social media, and every overheard conversation, I suddenly can't escape the idea of exploring Earth. Enough already, my procrastination to get out into the world is getting kicked to the curb.
Adventuring into the most beautiful corners of the world sounds like a dream, a dream that terrifyingly enough I can make a reality. That's the worst part, isn't it? That we know there is no excuse for our dreams not coming true. We build walls around our paths with superficial obligations, but we can tear these walls down by the grit of our fingernails if we want something badly enough. While I admittedly still struggle in places like the shoe department, I remind myself daily how rewarding it is to value experience over stuff. So then what wall is standing in my way this time?
Whispers of adventure have been sneaking into my life for a long time, but why the sudden push? Am I noticing this theme so much now because some divine force thinks I'm ready to explore the world, despite what my sweatpants think? Or have I just subconsciously created a red flag to snap my head at any mention of traveling? When does weighing my options suddenly turn into obsessing over an experience outside of my current moment? How much should I go with the flow of my heart, and how many of my current objectives need saving?
I have a lot of questions.
Maybe a better one is…does it really matter if some higher power thinks I'm ready to leave my couch, or if my mind is its own facilitator of this traveling bug? If this idea is sprinting toward me with a power I am unable to escape, then it's at least time to open my mind to these new possibilities.
But why does this wild life, which sounds no less than miraculous, feel like something I have to "escape" from, as if plane tickets and hiking boots were chasing me around every corner? I feel an anxious obligation to this potential path, but what makes me feel like I owe this choice so much precious consideration?
Everywhere I browse, awesome people like Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Buddha, Lennon, and guys who've climbed Everest are urging me toward landscapes that are wondering what's taking me so long.
The transitional being inside of me is struggling. I have no idea what's best for me. I have no idea what I want.
I am terrified of these gaps in my reality, but not knowing where to go from here is also a reflection of good changes in my life. I'm feeling vulnerable and naive, but somewhere very, very deep down I also feel liberated. I'm in a position to choose any path I'm brave enough to take on. I am open-minded, willing to expel toxic obligations, and working harder at stripping down the walls that don't serve my healing. I have a chance to start so, so fresh.
I'm realizing I'm comparing 1. a full life of being settled down to 2. a full life of traveling the globe. That ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach is now waiting patiently for my intuition to kick in. Suddenly measuring a separate life with my couch or the wilderness doesn't seem right, but what's the alternative to comparing when you've got a decision to make?
"Decision" must be where I'm twisting it all up, because no definitive answer seems to fit. Maybe the choice I actually need to make is not to choose, but to fly by the seat of my pants and the urges of my heart, and to let that be enough. It's possible to adventure until the world has given my soul what it needs, and then retreat to my processing haven at home, wherever home is at the time.
All of this comparing nonsense in my head is superficial and has nothing to do with my actual problem. Actually, I don't even have an actual problem, and that's the beautiful part. I don't have an issue, I have crossroads.
It occurred to me that I can always fall back on whichever path I didn't take if the going gets tough, but I don't want to live based only on the safety nets I keep close by. These diverging routes terrify me to my bones because they're new. No matter what amount of settling in or adventuring out I've done before, I haven't been this far on either path. Now we're getting somewhere juicy.
As I write this, I am realizing how deep exploratory passion runs through me. Nature is something my curious mind dreamed about before I knew how possible it was to be a part of it.
Most of my memories from when I was a tiny chica revolve around time spent outdoors. You either found me in snow igloos wearing a pink jumper snowsuit, or in the trees with shorts and scraped knees. I knew the outdoors was where life REALLY happened.
My parents once offered to redecorate our bedrooms, and while my sister picked this cute lavender theme with books and teddies, I wanted a jungle theme. A door opened to a small balcony off of my room, flooding me with the sounds of nature at night. Green walls, a blue ceiling, a wooden loft bed, and animal print decorations was the coziest environment I could envision. I would lay in bed with my eyes gently closed, pretending I was below the jungle's canopy. I could feel the breeze from the tropical leaves rustling and the monkeys jumping from the branches as they swayed. I would get lost in the feel of nature that would take me far away from the concrete walls that held my little life in place.
Later in middle school, I lived more in my daydreams than I did the classrooms. When they had us fill out forms explaining ourselves, I answered what I wanted to be when I grew up honestly. I was oblivious to the destination of these slips of paper, but had I known they were headed for the yearbook committee, I would have made something up. While my classmates wanted to be super models, musicians, or kindergarten teachers, I wanted to travel to uncivilized parts of the world and take photographs in the wild.
Maybe this is why I feel I owe something to this idea of seeing world. My innermost innocent being has been craving this adventure since I was a little girl, and I have been hiding it.
And while the epiphanies rolled in during Savasana last night, right on cue with my thoughts the yoga instructor reminded us that we were in "corpse pose" for a reason. This crucial processing time at the end of class gives us space to let our worries go even when we feel like we might die inside. When we summon the courage to face our pain, we see that life is constantly cycling and changing, but that we survive. Black and white paths are one thing, but what about all of that grey hiding in between? Suddenly my choices go from two to infinity, as I realize I only ever have to decide on one step at a time.
And ya know what? I don't want to pretend I know how the rest of my life will play out. I'm reminded of being a senior in high school, knowing nothing about the world I want to explore or the person I want to become. Maybe it's not right to expect anyone to make such a colossal decision at 18 years old, but how could it be right at any age? This isn't about Niki's Couch Versus the World for the rest of my life, but about where my heart needs to go right now.
Any answers I think I have could change in a few minutes, a few months, or several years from now. I could wake up tomorrow and realize everything I've said here so far is bullshit.