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The Time Has Come
...to head back to whence we came (and to keep falling)
Yes, folks. The fateful day has come. Our (second) visa (extension) is up. Our bank accounts are feeling the squeeze. We must head back to the U.S.A.
Can you believe it’s been almost six months? Yeah, me neither. Time really does fly when you’re getting older—and I’m, indeed, getting older. The cracking of my hips and the bouts of pain in my right foot and ankle that I twisted freshman year (?) of high school are hinting at that reality. Aside from celebrating a birthday and getting a little older since being away, I’ve also grown and evolved in ways unseen—such is the beauty of travel and being human.
Fittingly, I recently read a beautiful piece by author and artisttitled “How to fall”. In it, she captures the tension that exists in travel, and thus in the self when traveling; she touches on what travel asks of us, but what we so often resist, despite it being in our best interest to just surrender, take a chance, and then reflect on what the experience taught us. I won’t try to sum up what she so poetically spelled out, so just go take a read, okay? Her extended metaphor of falling “dangerously” and/or “safely” is one so applicable across all areas of life, not just travel, that it should be mandatory reading. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her piece:
It seems that growing up or growing older is a constant lesson in learning how to safely fall: into a new role, career, next step of a hobby, next stage of life. I find it comforting that change is inevitably uncomfortable—it’s not supposed to feel natural or instinctive at first—but resistance will only bring greater and longer-lasting pain.
So I return home with minor scrapes, and tougher skin. I succeeded in what I set out to do: fall repeatedly and safely.
The growth and expansion that travel—and just being present in living, really—can allow us, should we just embrace the experience, is truly one of the greatest gifts we can receive in this life, a gift we can give our past, present and future selves. Travel is a surefire way to grow and change, in one way or another. But here’s the kicker: the type of growth is up to you.
If you resist the opportunity to grow and change, you’ll grow more rigid in your ways; you’ll form scar tissue over parts of yourself that want to heal and soften. You’ll close yourself off further from yourself, and thereby others.
If you embrace the opportunity to grow and change, you’ll expand and evolve into versions of yourself you couldn’t foresee. You’ll become more you and more susceptible to growth, more flexible to change moving forward.
As Mari so aptly reminded me (and now you), the growth that propels us forward involves change, and that “change is inevitably uncomfortable.” As one of my coworkers used to say, “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” (Travel in a nutshell.)
If you read my “Prologue” post, you know where my priorities lay and what my intentions were for my time away. You also know, if you followed along, that I was at times scared, let down, and hesitant to act in ways that would fulfill my desires and see my intentions through.
I had to swallow my fears, allow them to wash over and/or run through me, to prove to myself that I would, indeed, live thereafter. I came face to face with situations where my abstract worries either revealed themselves to be concrete or mere apparitions that soon disappeared like dust on a gust of wind once I walked through them, one step at a time. Where I once stood paralyzed in the anticipation of being crushed by uncertainty, I soon found myself jolted with courage, running towards the unknown.
I stumbled my way through it all, fell (dangerously and safely). There was always that moment mid fall, too—you know, when your brain is afforded time to register your feet off the ground and to form that four letter swear word in response—where the world stopped, and I had no choice but to surrender to the fact that I was falling. Whether I would land on jagged rocks, semi-forgiving sand, or supple moss was left to be discovered only once I landed. But I did it: I fell. Then I jumped. I skipped. Sometimes I still walked slowly towards the edge in trepidation, with my hand held, but I kept moving. After flinching but stepping off the ledge, I proved to myself that serious injury was not always inevitable. Fall enough times and the flinches become less and less involuntary.
Eventually, I fell less rigidly and more like a ragdoll, enjoying my descent, allowing gravity to pull me down and the wind to play with my hair. And perhaps I was able to fall more willingly, despite my initial anxious tendencies, because I had someone with me who’d fallen many times before and lived to tell the tale. Brooks was the little push I needed to just lean and jump into the experience, even though my initial instinct was to flinch. The ghost of Margaret Past also gave me lil’ nudges: I could not let her down. I had to try my damndest to take advantage of the opportunity I created for myself, for us.
Did I succeed fully in all that I came to experience and discover, internally and externally?
Yes and no. I did the best I could.
So, I will be returning with some “minor scrapes, and tougher skin”—and a tougher, more spice-adapted stomach, I might add—and that makes me happy and proud.
It also leaves me feeling hopeful and humble. Travel reminded me, once again, that I still have so much to learn (some of which I may not learn in this lifetime, and that’s okay, too). In putting myself in a new environment to live my life, it magnified where I still need and want to grow. For one, I still need to master the art of falling, and this trip was a great training ground for that. All the more reason to keep traveling near and far—by plane, by train, by reading, by conversing. Travel can take many shapes and forms, and we have the opportunity to fall in all of them. So, until I once again board a plane to my/our next international destination, I will relish in the micro-travels of everyday life: taking a trip to the grocery store, reading a book I wouldn’t instinctually reach for, visiting a new town or city, going there in that tough conversation.
Travel, after all, comes down to a state of mind. Travel is just another state of living. Travel can be as simple as just living outside our comfort zones.
Rest assured that although I am once again returning stateside, stories and more think-pieces per my/our travels and my tangential, TMI musings will continue to grace this platform and your inboxes (should you subscribe) along with some tales grounded in the new, soon-to-be here of the bays and bars of Cape Cod. We’re gearing up for a very full New England summer, the main focus of which will be refilling our bank accounts by means of bar shifts, boutique days, waitressing nights, and copyediting side gigs…all while continuing to apply to jobs and apartment hunting in a soon-to-be-determined new city. Writing will certainly be a welcomed reprieve from that grind.
We will also still continue to play and soak in the stillness of life, too. Travel has re-grounded me to really carry that forward in everything I do from here on out so that I may feel rejuvenated and limber enough to keep taking chances…and to keep falling into all the newness and challenges that await me.
You got to the end! If you got distracted midway through and put down your phone because your kid was crying or the dog barked to be let out, but you came back to finish what you started, thank you! Or maybe you minimize this tab on your computer with the good intention of finishing this post at a later date and did. Thank you, too! Thank you for reading. I would certainly keep writing was I just writing into the void, but it’s cool you’re here, too.
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That’s all for now. Send us good vibes as we power through the remainder of our travels home.