The first six months of my trip are over. It’s been
Six months of sleeping in not my bed with not my pillow.
Six months of Skypeing but not touching real live faces from home.
Six months of not knowing where I’m going to be next, who I’m going to be with or how to read the menu.
Six months of trying different types of beer.
Except for missing people, I’ve loved every minute of it.
I am in the beach side state of Goa, India. I swim in the ocean every day and every day I reach to the bottom of the ocean and dredge up sand that is full of life – small crabs, starfish, mussels, snails.
I picked up a crab the other day from the ocean floor. He poked his head out then whipped it back into his shell, over and over. He was wanting to explore, but was also terrified. A trillion small but exact events in history had lead to that particular crab intersecting with me at just that moment and being picked up and terrified by me. In his mind though, he was happily on the bottom of the ocean one day minding his own business, when suddenly and with no warning, he found himself in an unfamiliar environment, being held by something he had not previously known existed, and in his little clicking crab voice I’m pretty sure he was saying “Where in hell am I and what the hell am I doing here?”
That crab is me.
I began this trip for oh so many reasons. The main one though, is because I was that crab – in a brand new place in life and really confused about it. I had been recently divorced, which meant not only a loss of spouse and intact family, but a loss of job and community and friends. Shortly after this, my last child left for college and I was coming home to an empty, quiet house for the first time…ever. Though a million things had happened in just the right way to lead me up to that particular point in life, in my mind I was thinking, “Where the hell am I and what the hell am I doing here?”
After looking at the crab, I put him back on the ocean floor where he knew what he was doing. But, nobody was about to do that for me. So, I worked two jobs for a couple of years and then quit and left. Though my family and friends are absolutely amazing and wanted to help, no one could help me with this. I had to be alone and figure it out. I had to put myself in new and challenging situations to see what I was made of, to know myself, to shake it all up and break down the crust of emotional armor that had so diligently protected me, but was now causing the slow death of my inner man.
Six months later I was getting better…gradually working past the hard shell to the soft heart, but it was slow going at best.
Then India happened.
India, India, how I love her.
She is so exhausting, but when I walked into her chaos filled streets and crowd filled markets, she seemed to be the outward expression of the inward me. She was filled with color and beauty but was somewhat confused and frantic. There was a lot you had to know to make it in India, with a lot of uncertainty all the time.
But for me, I breathed in the chaos and confusion and uncertainty, breathed it all in and loved it, because it was my kindred spirit. I could see myself in it.
That made me realize, my soul wasn’t that much better after all.
Then the letter came.
I was in Mumbai and had been by myself for awhile; I was lonely. I got a beautiful letter from an old friend and he asked me something like…what had happened to me? The pictures he was seeing of me was not the person he remembered. What had happened to me that my pictures looked like I didn’t have the spark I once had. (or, my own more dramatic translation – that I didn’t have a soul.)
That letter neatly and swiftly pushed me over the edge that I had been trying to reach for so long and so desperately needed to be pushed over. For the first time, maybe in three years, I finally and really cried. About everything. All the losses, all the changes, all the pain. It was long overdue.
Then, right then in that grief, a verse from the bible came to mind:
Don’t worry about former things,
or ponder things of the past,
behold, I will do something new,
now it will spring forth, will you not be aware of it?
I will make roadways in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
It went straight to my heart and I believed it.
Then, suddenly and just like that, things shifted in a dramatic way.
My soul began to relax.
I began to see myself and was no longer confused by it.
I began to hear my real voice, not the-fake-it-till-you-make-it one I had adopted.
I stopped feeling like I was out of the water of life and started swimming in it.
Also, life became a lot more funny.
The journey isn’t over. But this part of it almost is and I’m glad. It was a hard part.
Cheers to the future and adventures and hope, to helping others and knowing ourselves. May life be filled with new faith and new good things, for all of us.