Right now I'm writing this blog in a fog, trying to remember the events of the past 10ish days (I've completely lost track of time) through my road weary brain.
This has been such a crazy, dark, light, beautiful, grieving, and delightful process of a journey so far that I'm afraid you may think I'm making this up, but hey, here it goes!
Two Sundays ago, as I said goodbye to my hosts at Lola Sonoma Farm, I found myself turning the ignition on to an engine smoking and choking a "good morning" to me. I knew it in my gut, this van was not going to make it all the way to the Canadian border and back. So I turned myself South and set off for a long 12 hours back home to San Diego. (Also without air conditioning and through the Central Valley and LA...not fun!)
Something happened to me around the third hour into my drive...an epiphany of sorts as I reflected on my anxiety attack leaving Big Sur, and the patterns of thoughts that circled around it the following days. All of a sudden it hit me that most of it had to do with one person, and it was a person that I knew I needed to both confront and forgive.
You see, the spirit is a powerful thing, it won't let you be free until you set everyone else in your life free...and that's what forgiveness is. In the words of Rob Bell, "Forgiveness is setting someone free and finding out that it was you who needed to be set free."
So as I was driving down the "dust bowl" of the grapevine wearing just my bikini with sweat dripping down my back, I started feeling this constant slow nagging thought, "If there's something you can do about it, do it! Don't be a victim. Be brave, and ask to meet up." It then turned into what felt like a throb in my head, pulsating with every heartbeat through my eardrums..."forgive forgive forgive...meet up meet up meet up...say it in person say it in person. Then you'll be free. Be free be free be free."
I couldn't believe myself. Why on Earth would I go and meet up with this person after all this time, and why should I forgive when I felt like I needed an apology? "Because you are responsible to the whispers of your heart. Because you are the one strong enough to carry the conversation. Because you want to be free and you have the power to set this person free..." (My spirit was being relentless, not letting me play the victim card) Great.
So there it was. I pulled up into my parents seaside condo, a salty mess with my hair sticking to my face, a sunburnt left arm, and a minivan that sounded like rocks were tumbling in her belly. As soon as I turned off the engine, I knew that I had to reach out and send an email to this person.
And so I did.
Bad news came as our family mechanic explained that my van wasn't suitable for my journey, and although I was bummed, I was more determined to get back on the road no matter what vehicle I was driving. (My sweet father is letting me borrow his little Toyota Corola to get through the rest of the trip!)
After repacking my camping supplies into my borrowed car, I checked my emails to find that this person was willing to meet up with me as I headed up to the Redwoods the next day. My stomach dropped to the ground, my hands felt like they weighed 100 pounds, and my lungs felt like they couldn't get enough air. This was really about to happen.
Was this the real reason I came home? To confront an issue I had kept swept under the rug of my heart, pretending there was nothing I could do to fix it?
The next morning I woke up before dawn to set out on yet another 12 hour drive up to Northern California, and as the sun rose through my windshield, I set my heart and intention on the love of the Divine. I prayed the entire drive. This was probably going to be the dumbest thing I could do, but I knew I needed freedom. Finally.
I once had a professor tell me that in order to let go and live a life of freedom, we have to name our fears. We have to sit down in front of them, face-to-face and eye-to-eye, and directly name them for what they are so that we can release them. Otherwise these fears become like crazy black-holes of ambiguous anxiety, almost like dark demons that come back to haunt us throughout life. I obviously didn't want that! But I had already felt that darkness festering in this particular situation, and because I felt like I had tried everything to help my mind and spirit, the one thing left to do was to meet up... face-to-face and eye-to-eye.
And so we did.
Freedom takes courage on both ends, and courage takes a brave, curious dance of both spirits. Oh and a good deal of humility as well from both people. So I guess all those factors makes this a pretty rare thing.
Now I don't think it's appropriate to talk about this any further, especially since I believe this person (or at least this persons friends) probably reads these posts, and also because I want to honor the sacred space we created between us.
So yes, this person and I set each other free.
(If this person is reading this, thank you again. We have now created a story worth telling. We have now created and lived an experience that most people are too afraid to live. I am humbled and I am excited to move forward in freedom. Thank you.)
The following day while camping in the Redwoods of Northern California, I allowed myself space to meditate on this interaction of forgiveness. What I wasn't expecting was a feeling of emptiness.
It was almost as if my mind had gotten used to the stress of dealing with its anxiety over this situation, and it didn't know how to operate in freedom. It felt like I needed to now retrain my mind and spirit into freedom- weird right? Anyone else have this happen?
Incoming of anxiety meltdown number two of the trip...yep, again folks.
After a day full of gorgeous hiking and drawing, I was completely fed up with how my mind would flicker back to old anxieties amidst such beauty, and anger swelled up in the pit of my stomach.
"Why can't I just be normal and get over things? Why do I have to be so sensitive? Why do I take so long to grieve? Why am I on this trip if my mind can't handle it? Should I go home? I don't think I can do this by myself."
I think there is something about being immersed in the redwoods like that. It's almost as if these giant trees store hundreds of years worth of hundreds of human souls. It seems like they give you a safe place to deal with your shit, and then they show you what peace looks like.
Anyway, meltdown number two in the Jedidiah River led me to an encounter with myself and the Divine.
After crying it out, feeling it all, leaning all the way into the pain, I was able to look at it and say "it's ok, right now in this moment all is well."
I felt myself being called into the river water to wash myself from the meltdown. I striped down to my swimsuit and waded into the water. "Dip yourself three times. Use this as your symbolic washing away of your old self and old habits that no longer serve your new path."
I listened. And I did it.
At first nothing felt different. I almost forgot I had that moment as I climbed into my sleeping bag that night (which happened to be in a gorgeous teepee). But as I reflected on the day and stared up at the stars through an opening in the teepee roof, I let myself lean into a new level of peace. "All is well and all shall be well."
Lessons learned: don't be a victim to situations that you can free yourself from, forgive face-to-face, go cry in the redwoods, make bad paintings, do a river cleanse, and then sleep in a teepee...
Who knows, maybe this will resonate with you in some way.