|Basilica of St. Michael, Bordeaux, France, built between the end of 14th century and the 16th century|
The thing with dreams for those with hyperactive minds like mine is that once they become reality the brain will likely wrestle with the blooming of sameness. Halfway through my trip, around day 35, I felt a mash up of boredom and melancholy building up in my chest. It made absolutely no sense. I was now in France, for heaven's sake! I was living THE life, one stunning location after another, each new meal more exquisite than the last, each ancient wall filled with cracks and gargoyles that sparked my wildest medieval fairy tale fantasies. The freedom to choose where to go, what to do, who to talk to, when to sleep and wake up. For the past five weeks my decisions evolved around whether I would pour myself a glass of red, white, rosé or sparkling; whether I'd see the flow of life at a charming café or relax in solitude in my rental to the tunes of newly found local music. So why was it that the ecstatic sense of wander, the wholesomeness of ease and the calmness of surrendering had suddenly been replaced with tediousness? How could dullness layer up in my heart like a thorny organism metastasizing as I walked though gorgeous limestone buildings cemented in centuries of history?
Only a couple of weeks before, while entering a spiritual retreat in a remote rural setting in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Andalusia, nothing less than an eagle followed me from above for a good hour as I scouted the hilly terrain covered with olive trees. When the wise healer performed what I believe was a form of hypnosis by simply touching my ankle and prompting me with questions, I became the eagle. I saw the Earth beneath me, the yurt that hosted my human body, the world standing still under my gaze 20,000 feet above ground as my wings soared splendidly in the vastitude of heavens. For slivers of seconds I breathed peace, I felt the quietness of eternity. In the days following that extraordinary vision the Sahara Desert blew layers of dust into Europe creating an ominous orange cloud that when fused with the frigid rain literally made mud drizzle from the skies. It felt like the prelude to the apocalypse and yet I was in a state of complete non-resistance. I was sheltered in a rustic, brick farmhouse with no central heat where I would get up from the couch just to pick up firewood from the outdoor shed and bring it back to the hearth. I was feeling serene for simply managing to keep a fire alive for hours.
"Benvenuti a Roma, please exit through the front door." Once I stepped into the Roman sunlight in what felt like the first day of spring after a harsh, mostly rainy winter month, something shifted in my blood, renewed streams of oxygen pumping joy, then marvel, then laughter. Like the Easter season I was coming to celebrate, I felt a rebirth of spirit. I hugged my beloved sister, my sweet brother-in-law and my beautiful two-year old niece whose fierceness, innocence and spontaneity helped dissolve any leftover negativity. Having been to Rome many times before, feeling zero obligations to visit churches, monuments or museums, I was feeling at peace for simply being in their presence under the warm sun. Family, familiarity and good weather were the firewood my heart needed to reignite my wanderings.
|Under the Roman sun|
Within 24h I selected and booked my next destination, one where the sun would shine, one that feels like the most exotic one to date. I also hugged my inner critic, for I'm aware that though her delivery is harsh her role is to protect me. I'm letting her see that more than alluring photos in my Instagram, I've been gaining superpowers along my trip. When I'm in despair or unclear on what path to take, I can reactivate my eagle eyes and observe the world from above. I can call up in the folders of my memory the simple act of keeping the hearth heated without resisting the gloominess of the outside world or the complex constellations within me. Though the answers don't always come easily, serenity kicks in and serenity is an extraordinary travel companion.
|Finding serenity by the fire in Lanjarón, Spain|