Editor’s note: In light of the recent earthquake that has impacted Kathmandu and the surrounding areas, we kindly ask that you keep Nepal and everyone impacted, from the rural poor to the city dwellers to the sherpas and climbers of Everest in your thoughts and prayers. And more importantly, donate to the relief efforts if you are able. One thing to remember is that the region will need support long after most donations have slowed down, so perhaps make yourself a reminder to donate again in 6 months time to keep the aid coming when it’s needed. For donation information: visit OXFAM International, SEVA Foundation, Lutheran World Relief, or visit PRI for a list of several other vetted charities doing relief work in the region.
People who know me think I can be quite, shall we say, “random.” But I actually like to call it “following my Soul.” Sometimes it takes quite a bit of explaining to connect all of the dots for others – in my mind the map just seems to magically appear. So despite the fact that on the surface most of what I do seems very spur of the moment, it is actually all very well calculated and planned. I always know why I am doing something, and how it will help me progress in life. The catch is that I watch, observe, think, feel and take it all in, but I don’t typically share any of this with anyone until my mind is made up. And at that point there is absolutely no going back. So when things appear to come up out of the blue for me, in actuality they’ve been stirring in my pot for quite some time.
But this….this was random.
About two months ago I received an email from an acquaintance whom I had only met once but had a very lovely feeling about- and for someone who trusts her gut, “lovely feelings” are always easy justifications. The email was quite simple, something along the lines of “Hey, random thought — my husband’s expedition company is going to Nepal for 26 days to trek and climb, and I just decided to go. Do you want to join?” That was about the extent of the details- no dates, itinerary, price, anything. I read this and my head swelled with the same sensation as a migraine, but it felt like a migraine of adrenaline, joy and excitement. Gut instinct: This is exactly what I need. I read this invitation about 30 minutes before I went to bed, and I was buzzing with the prospect of such a trip. I was very aware that this was a ridiculous idea whether or not it was possible, and anyway, how I would make it happen?!….. But I felt more thrilled than I had in months.
I travel. Traveling is a huge part of who I am. But for the last two years I had forsaken this piece of myself because I felt like I needed to be firmly rooted in one place to work for my business. It was like having a baby. I knew that after a few years I could get back into it, but until the right time I felt like I needed to commit my time, energy, and finances to my work. I believe the appropriate words are “being responsible.” And that responsibility? Yeah….it sucked the life out of me, and I didn’t even realize it until I was gasping for breath. I thought maybe my travel instinct was frivolous and that amazing as it always was, perhaps it just wasn’t necessary. I thought mini vacations would satisfy my need for adventure and sunshine.
I could never have been more wrong. It was like my love of life was slowly being sucked out of me, and I didn’t realize it until this opportunity to trek in Nepal came into my sight lines. It was only once I began to entertain thoughts of traveling again that I realized how important travel is not only for me, but for my work. It gives me the perfect platform to show people all the world has to offer, as well as all the amazing things they are capable of. It’s not a guilty pleasure, it’s an experience that has the potential to help me (and everyone else who finds traveling essential to living fully) evolve to a whole new way of living.
Slowly over the days following my friend’s invitation, I gathered more information and went through many waves of emotion, from excitement to total overwhelm and back again. As I mentioned, I am very well calculated and although the sum total was that I absolutely had to go, nothing else was adding up. It made me uncomfortable and nervous when I spent more than a minute thinking about what it would mean to go, but that first minute before discomfort set in was total ecstasy. Most importantly, I was surrounded by people who would not take no for an answer. For their support and their push to take the risk, I am infinitely grateful.
After deciding that I was going to go no matter what, I had to prepare all of my work for a month of absence, gather gear and get organized. (Not to mention attend three weddings – in different states.) In hindsight, part of me is grateful for all the stress and chaos — it gave me little time to overthink what I was about to do.
The most unnerving component of the entire scenario was the notion that I had no idea why I was going on this trip. It felt completely random. The calculations set in and so did the heartburn and anxiety. In my other travels, there had always been a purpose, but with this opportunity, I was just jumping on to someone else’s trip — because it felt like something not to be missed. I knew that a big part of the experience was in whether or not I would say yes and just trust that the universe would grant me all I could possibly need. “Take it or leave it.” “Don’t think, just do.” These phrases went through my head on a near hourly basis those weeks leading up to departure. I knew I needed to go, and it was hard to remember that that needed to be enough.
It is my nature not to take things for granted and I believe there is a reason behind most of what happens in life. I knew there was a reason for me going on this trip, and I had a feeling it was an important one. But I had no idea what that reason was. Not knowing tortured me — and there was no meditating away from the small child inside me who is impatient and must always know the details. I was excited and terrified at the same time: what would happen? What is the lesson I needed to learn that may change me forever? Everyone kept telling me to relax and just have fun, but it wasn’t happening. My anxiety only worsened.
And then I arrived in Kathmandu. Like riding a bike, all the sensations necessary for easy, joyful travel in a third world country kicked back in, and I suddenly resumed my place in the world as a Traveling Soul, viewing every moment, every meal, every stranger as a new opportunity for untold amazement. Gazing at the sights of this new place, I couldn’t handle the amount of gratitude I felt for everyone who pushed me onto the plane, for everyone I was surrounded by in this new land, and for myself: for trusting that as hard as it may be, sometimes you don’t need an answer. Sometimes you just need to go.
Photo: Flickr/CC Dhilung Kirat