“You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees”
Life has asked my gypsy heart to take the backseat for a while now. Adventure has looked a little different for me these days. Boarding this train in New York today reminds me of my time in India. As I sit and contemplate where I am in life, it feels very similar to my experience there. If I really think about my trip to India... it was hard. And when I say hard, I mean hard. Intestinal parasites, lice, and a true feeling that I might die (not kidding), jumping off a moving train, not being able to communicate with my newly engaged fiance for the first 4 days after I landed, feeling like I was on a movie set at Universal Studios of an extreme poverty scene (that no one should ever have to endure) and hoping they would call "CUT' - just to name a few. But when people ask me my favorite place I have traveled to... my first response is India. (But with a disclaimer) What?! Yeah all that happened, but it was what I learned through my travels, through the hardships, through navigating the unknown, being so far removed out of my comfort zone (that all I knew to do was cry) is what busted my heart wide open. I felt naked, raw and vulnerable. I guess that was the starting point.
I wrote in my journal on January 12, 2012:
"Sitting in the local train station in Kanyakumari, India. 3 goats just walked out of the train station doors onto the streets. Flies are parched upon me like they belong there. I'm used to this by now."
I remember a breaking point. A breaking point where I finally let go. A moment where I couldn't fight it anymore. A moment I surrendered. I finally gave into my fears and let them wash over and through me. I opened the lens I had been looking through a little wider. And guess what right before my eyes... that had been there the whole time?
A land and culture rich with love. Embellished with color, and liveliness. Intense aroma of spices, sweets, mixed with the filth of animals, urine and feces. Extreme wealth and poverty and not much in between. A culture deeply devoted to God. A land that wrapped it's arms around me and held me tenderly. People that embraced me in a way that I have never experienced. The purest, most genuine smiles and joy of people who appeared to have nothing, but would give you everything they had to make you feel welcome. I felt contentment. I think to myself.. wow, I almost missed it.
I wrote in my journal on January 11, 2012:
"Incredible India: First, that is an understatement . How you stripped me of everything I ever thought I knew. The pride, the selfishness, the boastful self. The humility I have faced is shocking. You broke me down. You shed the filth and built me back up. The ground has seemed so unsettled for so long."
And here I am in a similar battlefield. Yes, the scenery looks way different, but the essence of the battle is the same... There were times within the first couple of weeks I would call home and try to book my flight for an earlier departure date. I will never forget Josh (now husband) telling me I would regret returning home early. Giving up early would have crushed my spirit. And I knew this about myself. All I had to do was take the next step. I would have never found these jewels in the deep caves of my heart if I turned back. For this, I am forever grateful.
I say this to myself sometimes as I reminder... "I almost missed it". Or as phrase my husband uses often... "You can't see the forest for the trees."
As I am navigating this life... only a short 34 years... I am realizing life (at times) is hard. And no one talks about it. So when we are faced with a battle, we tend to run in the other direction, or lay on the ground in a fetal position (is the only me? ha!) But are we being taught to stand up and face it? To not give up? To keep going? To cry? To feel exactly what we are feeling? To look at it square in the face without fear? To fall apart when we need? To ask for support? Can we be resilient? To know that putting one foot forward is way more empowering than giving up? It is so easy to give up... so damn easy to tell ourselves we can't go another day. It's a muscle we have to exercise just like anything else... I know it's hard, but let your children go through the hardships. Let them gather the tools they need to be equipped to navigate this journey of life.
So wherever you are in life, may you take a step back, a time out, a breather... and regain your strength. May you take back what is rightfully yours. May you see the forest, and not the tree in front of you blocking your view. May you remember that you are on your own hero's or heroine's journey of remembering who you truly are. You, my friend, are strong! You are capable! And you are equipped to handle the situation you are facing. This too shall pass. Whoa! Yes, this too shall pass! You don't have to do more, you just have to unearth what is already there. Don't give up.
I had a student recently reach out to me and say " I know we have to learn how to sit in discomfort and in the fire sometimes... but please remember that you don't have to do it alone."
There is a jewel waiting at the end of your battle. Don't turn around too soon. Don't miss what this Life is trying to offer you. And most importantly, you do not not have to do it alone.
Would I still have boarded that plane to India knowing all I would endure? The answer is YES! Because it has made me who I am today. And just like any hardship... we meet ourselves in very raw form - we get to take a glimpse of who we are at our core - a way in which we may otherwise never get to greet ourselves.
The journey continues... once again feeling naked, raw and vulnerable. The beauty that awaits me... the same beauty that awaits you is brilliant. I remain in awe and in deep gratitude.
If you want to see photos from India click below: