This one is my pound of flesh, my from the heart, truth. I want to grow. I want to study. I want to shatter the self imposed ceiling of my life and grow into the light of enlightenment. This has been a week of “ah-ha” moments for me and (although I should be writing a much over-due travel blog) I just want to write today. And this is, not so ironically, the source of this writing. I get one life. That’s what brings me out to the spot I am typing from now. I get one life and I want to lean into it so hard that the boundaries break. I want my life to consist of a series of moments that feel like that feeling I get when I open my bike up full throttle, late at night. When I have just the right song playing the tempo of my lane change in my ears and I can almost catch the greatness on the horizon with my visor. So, here you are.
I started the documentation of this journey for me. To watch the development of how this travel changes us all over time but more than anything to share it vicariously with the ones that I love. I wanted to network friends and family. I wanted to cross the ocean and deliver your grandmother some flowers from you. I wanted to meet up with your sorority girlfriend and bring her that bottle of the wine you used to laugh over. I wanted to take your friend to lunch and let them know that, by three degrees, you were insisting on your love reaching them. Still, over the last 5 months and 8 countries, I haven’t had the opportunity to network on anyone’s behalf yet. Can we all really be that separated? I have friends that have spent the majority of their life travelling abroad. I have savored the same circles as their loved ones in the last 5 months. Why have I been unable to connect for or with any of them? Ah-ha number one. As I post photo number 9 million of my adventures on the 4th generation of social media it causes me pause. Why am I here? I mean beyond the excitement of seeing over the wall. What brought me to this culminating moment? What was I trying to achieve? Overwhelmingly; freedom, enlightenment, growth, and acceptance of the realities of what is around us. Whats consuming us? How can I fight that consumption? What is the mold? Who designed it? and how do I break it?
My friends, the ones that know me, have always referenced me as an un-cageable bird. I have a forearm tattoo to this effect with [just one piece of my story] being scrolled across my story board of an arm as a bird flying free from a heart shaped cage opening…without a door. The type of being that is designed to fly without constraint. A person with the ability to CHOOSE to live from the heart, because where you’re heart is there also will your treasures lie. Not because I can’t or wont fall in line. It’s not that I buck authority or have a “damn-the-man mentality” in life. I gave 5+ good years to “the man” and I wouldn’t change that experience or what it has afforded me since for anything in the world. BUT, respecting authority and believing in leadership doesn’t mean that I have to submit to the mandatory manifestation of my purpose or destiny that this man-made leadership would implore me to embrace.
When a friend of mine pointed out my apparent happiness today I had to take a moment of self-reflection to decide what the source of this display was. Of course my initial response was that it must be the travel, the freedom. After all who could travel the world and then 8 countries deep decide that it made them unhappy? It must be the sudden freedom to see the world that she saw colored all over my face right? But if that was it then why hadn’t she seen it before when I had all the freedom to travel and lived at the site of one of America’s most favored tourist destinations as a “free” bird? No, it can’t be just the travel.
Following my usual line of deductive reasoning I decided that it must reasonably be the addition of Adam. Truth be told, I am not even certain that we will make it as a couple in the long run. Best friends? ALWAYS. But as a couple? Who knows. No one has ever driven me as crazy as he does. No one has ever frustrated me nearly as much. And yet, no one has ever accepted me as much. No one has ever taught me as much and no one has ever SHOWN me love as much as he has. He is such a crazy balance to me. If life was a see-saw and I was on one end I don’t even imagine that Adam would be the balance on the other end of it. My mind’s eye sees him more as the fulcrum below my child-hood teeter-totter toy lately. Even with these written words, if he were to read them his critique would be dry and un-emotive [very unlike myself] and so, for the moment that we are living in, he is the balance to the balance. At the risk of giving him too much credit (which I remain weary of now days) he opens my world up in ways that I never imagined. There is this way he has about him that encourages me to push. The way I have always appreciated my gym accountability partners that know how to drive me to a PR without shattering the fragile foundation layer of capability. LEARN! He silently screams at me on a daily basis, STUDY! And I LOVE it! Somewhere in this life I had grown so stagnant that I had failed to realize that it even happened. This brings me to ah-ha number 2.
My five year old daughter came out of the bathroom today with her hands gently brushing both cheeks and caressing her chin. “Mom! I have never seen my face this way before!” I pressed her for clarification and what we were experiencing together was, her aging. She realized that her face had grown. That the freckles were different. That the shape of her cheeks had changed and that even the color of her eyes had become a bit more, “clouded.” Her words moved me with their lyrical innocence. And how right she was. Everyone warns us that our children need to be; loved, consumed, studied and poured-over and into because before we know it time will devour them and we will have missed their growth in a blink. You know what people fail to mention? That we are growing in those same moments. That we too will one day look into the mirror and finally see that “we’ve never seen our faces like this before!” I am growing increasingly afraid that our shirts may have got it right in all of its simple and annoying slang… you [really do] only live once. And that’s when it hit me that THAT is the change in happiness that my dear friend Karen was witnessing. It wasn’t the man, who is bringing me an intolerable amount of both frustration and joy. It wasn’t the unimaginable amount of travel or the open map that afforded me insane amounts of cultural melding that I have grown to love and even to crave. It was simply the pursuit of enlightenment and growth that I have always felt but that I was just finally beginning to FEED!!!
At the tender age of 17 when I left for the Navy boot camp my Air Force veteran father handed me a white envelope. On the face of it, in his handwriting, was scrolled, “Seaman Black, Do NOT open until you are on the plane.” That would be my first act of premeditated order-defiance. As I read, I wept. I would read that letter a million more times as my life ticked on. I still carry it to this day. But one of those sentences that stood out to me then, as much as it did in the literal desert of war, and again now was this, “…your spirit, much like your body, needs to be fed. Without food and nourishment it will dry up much the same as the desert you will inevitably be serving in…..” I went on to serve in that desert. Feeding my soul by searching out God and wisdom with every tooth and nail that I could find in such a desolate space. Desolate in; God of course, but equally desolate in emotion, connection and reality.
When I said earlier in this blog that I had grown stagnant it is to say that I had stopped searching nourishment. I KNEW that something was missing but I was never sure what. I was seeking God. I was surrounding myself with mentors. I was SEEKING. My heart was WIDE-OPEN! What I had failed to do was continue to feed my MIND! Like a splash of cold water on the face in the morning, Adam can definitely take credit for the, not so subtle reminder. Months ago we started a “gratitude journal” for our family based on a suggestion from my dear friend Nikki. We, Adam and I, both inscribed it to both children. Adam’s inscription to W read something along the lines of, “W don’t just go through life, GROW through life, with me.” I was struck by the most concise but moving of statements. That was the first of many to come moments that would bring me a happy that I genuinely had never experienced, and this SCREAMS volumes as one of the happiest people I have ever known personally. But this happiness. That is MINE. He doesn’t get credit for that and neither does travel. Because the truth is that no one and nothing can take credit for our ultimate happiness. WE are completely responsible for the full and complete realm of our happiness as much as we are for our intellectual growth, spiritual growth, cultural growth and on and on from there.
This brings me to my conclusion, the last of today’s ah-ha moments. I often wonder why it is that I seem to have so many more emotions of gratitude and encompassing love for others when it is seemingly so easy for others to turn those feelings off. I’ll admit that at times I feel like this is the weakness in my armor. If only I could care less. If only I could be more narcissistic like the world around me seems to train into. But today, as the gratitude for YOU consumed me I rested into those very emotions. And I wouldn’t change it for any amount of money in the world. YOU the people in my life not only love and accept me for who I am, you don’t just live into the journey with me, you GROW into it with me. The ultimate version of growth for me has always been my being able to enlighten myself in a trifecta of balance where I am seeking; spiritual, physical and intellectual enlightenment simultaneously. But THEN…..there YOU were! And I was consumed by more than a humbling gratitude for your love and support. I was enveloped by the truth of the matter. That MY trifecta of self-development and empowerment are NOTHING without the addition of YOU. Your joy, your encouragement and your engagement and so much of what makes my desire for growth…grow. So, thank YOU! Sit back, enjoy a [vicarious] glass of red with me from Naples. And cheers to YOU. The ones who love me enough to allow me to live into who I am while I love you for being you. I. Am. Grateful. I. Am. Humbled.
As usual, nothing brings me more joy than your participation in this journey. Please, feel free to send your feedback, suggestions and in this case self-development suggestions if you have them. I am always open to change and growth and in that regard I am well aware that my network is far to wide for me not to graciously accept your mentoring and guidance. Much love and so much more than that, respect. Until next time…..
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