Last week I took a trip to Romania. My first wanderlust-driven trip in nine months, the longest gap I’ve had between adventures in years.
I’ve become accustomed to calling my vacations adventures. Vacations are uneventful, adventures are memorable. It is rare, indeed, that I come back without a story of some sort, usually involving varying degrees of chaos, change, miscommunication, confusion, extreme experiences, or some otherwise outrageously ridiculous circumstance to report.
And so, last week, when I was forced to check my backpack at the gate in Copenhagen due to a full flight, forgot my passport and my DSLR camera inside it, had to get escorted out of the Berlin airport by police during my layover due to lack of identification at passport control (thus missing my flight to Bucharest and needing to spend the night in a hotel), discovered my cracked camera lens upon arrival in Romania, realized I forgot my cell phone charger, had the front cover of the engine fall off our rental car, dragging for 100km through switchback roads in the Carpathian Mountains, and other random hiccups, I was relatively unfazed.
In the midst of all the chaos of my departure, I found myself reassuring my friends who were worried for my well-being as I slipped into the bathtub at my airport hotel in Berlin, that this is the sort of action I live for. When this sort of stuff happens to me on adventure, I take it all in stride, and power through, unwavering. I thrive in that spontaneous and ever-changing reality, constantly tapping into my resourcefulness, my resilience, to see what I’m made of, getting off on every stroke. And yet, when massive shifts happen in my daily life that reroute my routine, I get totally irritated and resentful.
I don’t think I truly fully understood what it was about travel that was so alluring to me until this trip. My body has always simply been pulled out on adventure. Buying the ticket and taking the ride has me immediately in my involuntary the moment I step onto the plane; living life soul first. Travel was the place where the Real Me got to come out to play, in full force, to compensate for the rest of my life lived contained and controlled.
I’ve spent the past year attempting to merge those worlds, to take away the compensatory undertone I had built around traveling. My desire to unite these two defragmented pieces of myself has been powerful fuel for my personal development journey. As exciting as it can be to live life in two extremes — regaling my square coworkers of my wild and free ways with a backpack in Ethiopia — I didn’t want to feel like I needed to escape the life I worked so hard to build for myself in order to feel truly happy.
As I continue to dig deeper, I discover new levels of obscurity in how I’ve developed a commerce-based relationship with my happiness: I’m conscious of my desire to “break free” from the prison cell I’ve built for myself, and am simultaneously secretly terrified of what that last remnant of true freedom might look like if I had it full time, as though, if I haven’t suffered in order to get it, that it can’t possibly exist.
There is a core belief in there somewhere that being contained is the safer route, and that living in balance means offsetting any moments of volatility with over-corrected moments of responsible, calm, collected life choices.
I’m constantly astonished at where this core belief shows up in my life. Where I silently judge the more wild and free men and women I know for being irresponsible, priding myself on having my shit together. Where I hide my love and don’t always share where I’m at whole-heartedly, untrusting of how it will be received, unconsciously looking for approval. Where I settle for scraps and binge in order to feel nourished, in work, in love, in relationship, in life.
I’ve recently been forced to look at where I covertly give myself what I need in order to feel nourished and subsequently find myself in relationship with people who love me covertly. Where I lean into deprivation out of fear of abundance and the unpredictability and uncontainability that comes with it. I have discovered where this belief was activated and am now faced with the raw truth of the reality I’ve created for myself: I will never be satisfied until I start feeding the boisterous, resilient, carefree, resourceful, flow-junkie part of myself whole-heartedly, overtly, deliberately, and full-time.
And so begs the question: how?
The answer to that is always: practice.
Practice staying conscious in my meditation, realizing that the most fantastic voyages of discovery I’ll ever go on can be found in my own body. Practice taking responsibility for places where I’m not overtly loving myself. Practice being authentic in everything I do. Practice living uncontained to make room for more abundance. Practice remembering that as in travel as in life, and that I thrive in a rapidly changing reality.