I have never had someone very close to me die. I won’t pretend to know precisely what that is like. But I can imagine there would be a fear of forgetting–what they looked like when they smiled; what they felt like when you wrapped your arms around them; the exact intonation of their voice; the fond memories gathered together.
I, too, am afraid. Not because I’ve lost someone close to me, but because I’ve finally fully met myself and I don’t want her to be forgotten. I don’t want to let the experiences, the people, and the feelings of a seven-and-half week journey around the world fade from my heart’s memory. I want to fight to keep ALIVE the wild, brave, confident, empathetic, curious, sensitive, naive, strong, open woman I met out there. I really enjoyed being with her. Being her! I want the world to really know her. And as a bonus — for us all to discover more about ourselves through the vast, kind, and beautiful world we live in. There is a fear of possibilities slipping into forgotteness.
Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or the bitterest hour of your life.
I don’t say this as some sort of egotistical trip. I say it because I believe everyone deserves to meet the REAL version of themselves. That we encounter and explore our inner-most persons is NOT selfish in the traditional negative sense of the word. Just the opposite. It is a glorious and honorable feat that celebrates our own richness and tends to reward, not only ourselves, but is a gift to those we meet. What if knowing our true spirit (unanchored from our cultural “shoulds”) may actually be a vehicle to heal and to change a planet full of suffering and chaos?
Just a month post-return, I can already feel an unwelcome haze setting in. The scenes in my mind aren’t as crisp. I’m not recalling exact names and places as quickly. Old habits seem to be wiggling their way back into my daily existence. I still FEEL entirely different, but, I don’t honestly know what to do with it.
I sit at the local coffee shop at the exact table where Chris and I first plotted what, at the time, seemed liked an altogether impossible dream. We spent many exhausting nights here planning, hoping, estimating, worrying and keeping our fingers crossed. The table is still here. The baristas’ faces familiar. The Cincinnati weather predictably erratic. But home does not look or feel the same, because I am not the same.
My perspective on everything has shifted, leaving my entire world feeling a tiny bit askew in what should be a comfortable place. It is both inspiring and paralyzing. I have plenty of fruits to harvest and new seeds to plant, arising out of all that I have discovered about myself and this planet. Yet, somehow, it is still not enough–not sufficient to calm the massive cyclone of energy and emotion inside of me; not adequate to communicate how deeply I appreciate all of the people who have stepped up to help us conquer this epic dream; not enough for anyone to completely understand what I’ve seen and what’s taken place within me.
I don’t believe you have to literally travel around the world to begin to know yourself better or to ponder some of life’s biggest questions. And so perhaps this is my next trip. The one that journeys deeper within, while sitting still.