Amazing what two glasses of wine can do
There’s a sense that I’m in India because I’m meant to be here. That sounds very New-Agey and don’t get me wrong – it’s not as if I arrived and had an innate mastery of the Konkani language – it’s more like this time in Goa is something that I’ve been building up to, and couldn’t have done earlier. Something has brought me here. Something magic.
Twenty years ago, I was in my twenties and living life as a good citizen. I’d gone straight from high school to university to career and was in a committed relationship with a man, his house and his Volvo in a nice southern Ontario town. All was good and normal, but something beckoned me to the farthest edge of the North American continent. Something disruptive. I told J., “I want to move to Vancouver…if you want to do that too, that’s great and if not, I’ll do it on my own.” Lucky for me he agreed. Unlucky for me we broke up less than a year after the move.
I survived the heartbreak, tread a new career path, and rode a motorcycle in my new city. I felt the fear and did it anyway* and then – after two glasses of white wine in a sidewalk cafe in New Orleans on an accidental solo trip – I realized that I really was FREE, and that freedom is terrifying, exhiliarating and addictive. Some call it Existentialism, some call it The Travel Bug, some call it Not Being Married.
It’s Rememberance Day in Canada, and and exactly ten years ago today I packed my apartment into a storage container, boxed my bicycle and nervously set off for a solo journey through Thailand. I cycled the backroads of a country that graciously hosted my functionally-illiterate self for three entire months. I learned to be humble, to speak with my eyes, and to believe in magic.
It seemed that the more I let go – of fear, expectation, pride, stuff – the more magic came my way. I felt blessed by the simplest things. I returned to Vancouver and stripped down my status quo life. I swapped my condo for a room in a shared house; dropped my publishing career for a retail job in a bike shop; and saved more than I spent so I could keep travelling and stay connected to the magic.
But sometimes magic is bad. You love, deeply, and are deeply hurt. You lose faith in love, trust and hope. You lose faith in magic, you lose faith in FAITH. The days (years) pass in pain until you experience an epiphany that comes not at the top of a mountain, but in the bottom of a valley. You remember something that you already knew.
You are free.
I think it’s Jack Kerouac who said, “Freedom lies beyond the final catastophe.” I imagine it’s like your first flying dream after a lifetime of chase dreams and worry dreams and no-clothes dreams. You rise up with a few strong strokes and the earth drops away. You look for your hand, but instead see a glittering ocean moving beneath you. A thought becomes a wisp, and then nothing at all and you fly.
What took you so long?