Not All Those Who Wander...

Not All Those Who Wander...

Only a few hours from my flight west, and I am realizing how incredibly different the lead-up to this adventure has been.

Every time I prepared for a trip in the past, the stress was so overwhelming that I told myself something had to give if I was going to keep doing this. I thought I should try packing sooner, practicing yoga, packing lighter, watching TV, drinking, spending time alone, all kinds of stuff.

Truth is, these things are fine ideas, but the stress continued to control my days before traveling. Time after time, I lost sight of all of the extraordinary reasons I planned to venture out in the first place.

After a while I figured out this was happening, but I didn't know how to rewire my anxious thoughts. Even when I took my last trip to Denver in June, I wished I knew how to feel excited for the days to come, instead of terrified and out of place.

Then, my Colorado adventure didn't go as planned. I spent a day unsuccessfully chasing down my stolen phone, I stayed longer than I intended, and tensions were high all around. There were a lot of experiences I didn't plan for, but sticking it out for two weeks showed me so many ways to plan better for the future.

Now, I find myself going on a similar trip, but without a set return date. Despite this extra step out of my comfort zone, I feel so much more ready than I did last time, or ever have before really. Not only do I have a better idea of what clothes to pack, but more importantly, I now know that I've lived through unforeseen and unfortunate events in a distant city before. 

Throwing yourself into anything for the first time is uncomfortable, and what we want to do most when we're uneasy is to fix it right away. We can pop a cork on a bottle of wine and spend our days loafing in bed, or we can stand in the rain, as I like to think of it.

Standing in the rain can be extremely uncomfortable; drops splash in your eyes, your clothes stick to your goosebumped skin, and you're stuck like that until you're dry again. But if instead you let yourself cherish the experience, knowing that everything is temporary, and maybe even remember that rain is a miracle that breeds life, it doesn't seem like such a bad break. 

Our brains can switch from these two ways of thinking so quickly it can be hard to even recognize, making it so important to practice directing our thoughts toward the life we want to live as much as we can. Thankfully, we can just as likely shift back to positivity as we can pessimism, especially when we open our minds to the ideas others have already discovered...

People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.
— Carl. R. Rogers

After discovering this quote earlier this week, I witnessed a shift in my thoughts on a drastic scale. I realized I've been trying to manifest perfection in certain areas of my life that I felt were justified, but to do so is complete nonsense. Everything from animals, to humans, to the inventions we create, are all equally a part of imperfect nature, and we're screwed if we think we can change that.

So I've carried this idea with me as the days before my trip thinned out- leaving the colors of the sunset alone how they are, and the same for the rest of us humans, too. 

Then, when I thought I was set for a while on a new path of understanding, I stopped scrolling at a yogi's Instagram post this morning, who quoted the proverb...

Respect your Ancestors, for you are the result of a thousand loves...

I immediately choked up, remembering a line I read earlier this year about having the courage to explore brave new worlds, just as our ancestors did, to give ourselves and our future generations a better life.

Obviously, these words couldn't have come at a better time. I'm so grateful for those who shared both of these messages, and for the practice that taught me to be open enough to hear them. 

So far, I'm finally feeling relaxed about my trip tonight, albeit a little nervous for the unknown weeks ahead. I have a better grasp on how temporary it all is, and I've pushed enough anxious thoughts out of my mind to feel excited for new experiences.

After my last trip, I've found more confidence from learning how to stand up for myself the hard way, and it reminds me that sometimes the only way to grow big is to sit in some cow dung for a while.

Oh yeah, and listen to your gut more, that's in there too. Overthinking is often more stressful than all of the worst case scenarios that rarely pan out anyway, and trusting my first reaction more than obsessive thinking has proven to be smoother, and calmer.

The flight jitters are kicking in and my mind is full of anticipation. For the first time, I have no plan, and I'm looking forward to loving the sense of freedom that brings.