Home Is Where The Heart Is
You know those moments that take your breath away? The ones that make you feel most alive? The ones full of emotions and passion, that bring you to tears and make your heart swell so big you think it could burst out of your chest? The moments that touch your very soul, and bring you to your knees at the absolute purity of them.
When you crave more, what do you do? Do you chase them? Do you try to determine the source, so that you can attempt to replicate them? That feeling that's so real, raw, and light that you just want to wrap your whole self into them and just sink in and enjoy the moment. Where you feel as light as a feather, free and ready to fly. You're invincible as if nothing could stop it, yet completely vulnerable as if one rip could tear it all away, all at the same time. The whole world and all its distractions melt away, and nothing else matters but that moment. That moment of BEING. The moment that reminds you why you're alive.
Can you quantify those moments? Do you notice a pattern? Do you become addicted to feeling that way? That light, carefree, invincible yet completely vulnerable, heart-bursting drug? Maybe you find that in your kids' eyes. Maybe you find that in a hobby- like dancing or running. Where you get that twinkle in your eye and spring in your step. Maybe you find that in your voice, when you're belting out your favorite jams in the car with some of your favorite people. Maybe you find that in your job, as a doctor or entrepreneur. When you're totally in your element. Maybe you find it in simple day-to-day moments. So what do you do? Do you chase after more?
Some people spend their entire lives chasing those moments, but rarely find them. Maybe because life threw some curve-balls they weren't anticipating. Maybe they were born into a life that offered little opportunity to change. Maybe, they never discovered their self worth. Maybe they never discovered their sense of self. Maybe they just didn't experience enough of those moments to really actively decide they wanted more. Maybe societal pressures told them they couldn't have them. That they needed to stick to a path that others set out for them, rather what they truly wanted for themselves.
I was incredibly blessed with the family I was born into. I really couldn't have picked a better one if I tried. I was born with everything. All the unconditional love and support I could ever hope for.
Even with all that I was blessed with, I grew up not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I hadn't experienced enough of those moments, those glimpses of my true self, to know what ignited my soul on fire. I struggled heavily for years, much like many people I know, trying to find that one thing- and while I enjoyed a lot of doors I opened, they were never the right fit. That puzzle piece was still missing.
About 3 years ago, I was in the midst of some big life changes (again). I was coming up on graduation from Cisco College, about to earn a certificate in a field I wasn't even sure I wanted to pursue anymore, while coming to hate a job I had absolutely adored when I first started, and my lease was coming up at my apartment and I wasn't prepared to re-sign. My mom had been asking me for years if I would move back in with her, even just for a while, and for the first time since 2011, I had been seriously considering it.
As I was coming up to a crossroads, I felt a big shift in my life happening. I didn't have the slightest idea what it could be, I just knew it was an answer to a prayer I had been praying for all my life. And I remember, one day, sitting at a stop light on Sayles and S. 14th in my hometown, getting ready to pass by my Tae Kwon Doe school, terrified and wondering what the hell was next for me, it hit me. Like a veil had been lifted from my eyes. The epiphany that floored me, knocked the wind out of me and refilled me with a new life breath all at the exact same time, and brought me to the kind of tears I had never cried before, in such awe..... My biggest moment.
"I'm going to travel the world."
That exact statement. That epiphany. All came down on me at once. If you've ever had a feeling in the pit of your gut... like, you just KNEW something was going to happen, you didn't have the faintest clue as to how, but you knew as much as you knew you were alive and breathing, your intuition speaking louder than ever that something was going to happen and to TRUST IT, then you know what I felt. There wasn't a single question in my mind that it was going to happen, I just had ZERO clue how it was going to unfold.
But isn't that always how it goes? There is a quote that resonates with me greatly since this happening: "If you do just a little research, it is going to become evident to you that anyone that ever accomplished anything, did not know how they were going to do it. They only knew they were going to do it." Allow me to be the first to tell you that I didn't have a clue how I was going to do it. Not even the faintest idea. I even told my mom at one point that I was just going to bring her with me everywhere because I was so terrified at the thought of going off on an adventure like that on my own! I had no idea of anything other than, I was going to do it.
And 3 years later, here I am, in Italy, sitting on my Darling Clementine's (love you, Kels) couch, writing this now.
I'm going to tell you right now, if I knew at that time what I know now about myself and my journey, I wouldn't have doubted any of it for a second. I'm not going to even for a moment say it's been easy, but then, how would these moments be worth it if it was?
I find most of my moments in my travels. I mostly travel alone. It baffles most people, but some get it. Being alone... I never feel alone. I feel most myself when I'm out on an adventure by myself. Some of my favorite moments are those when I'm sitting on a cliff at the Grand Canyon, soaking in the sunrise (the only time of my life I'm truly a morning person), or when I'm headed on a spontaneous trip to San Marcos to jump out of a perfectly good airplane (haha) by myself (save for the tandem instructor strapped to me), or when I'm walking under the twinkling holiday lights at the River Walk for the 2018 New Year in San Antonio, Texas, feeling more alive than ever. Those moments open up another locked door within my soul, and awaken another part of me I previously didn't know existed.
I've come to know myself incredibly intimately through my travels. Through being alone, but never truly alone. When you travel with people, even the right people, you learn to compromise and share your time with them, to experience most of everything together. And you know, that's amazing, and fills you up with joy and memories that last a lifetime, but there are things that traveling with someone will never show you that traveling alone will.
For me, so far (and I still have countless solo trips to take), I've learned how much time I like to spend in the mornings getting ready. I've learned what time in those mornings I feel civil and alive enough to have intelligent human conversations with other individuals (and how to keep most unpleasant thoughts locked away in my head). I've learned that I don't particularly enjoy shopping, but window shopping is just fine. I know now how much I love visiting pubs, and the general overall atmosphere that draws me in. I've discovered just how much I love to write! And to look at the sky. And to people-watch!!! Oh man, to people-watch. That's my favorite part of starting off a new trip. Discovering how others move about and carry out their days. It's so fascinating.
I know now how much I enjoy taking my time. I can be an incredibly fast traveler, but I've noticed that when I truly enjoy myself in a moment, I slow down. I soak it all up. I hug myself in public. I smile at strangers. I giggle to myself and yes-I talk to myself as well. I feel warm. I feel bubbly. I feel like myself. I don't absorb anyone else's energy, or feel the social facade that every single person subconsciously does when they're around other people. I am with myself. My best friend. The only person who will be with me for the rest of my life-in every second of every day. When I'm by myself, I get to discover more about myself. Little quirks, precise way of doing things that just work for me. It's like I'm constantly fitting together more puzzle pieces in this ginormous masterpiece of a jigsaw puzzle that I am. I get to complete myself, or rather, remember who I've always been, underneath societal pressures and constructs.
When I am with myself, society falls away. Other peoples' expectations fall away. I am left with my own badass self, and the path before me. I can do anything I could dream of. Anything my wildest imagination could come up with. I can travel the world if I want! The only person who could ever limit me is me. And when I am alone, I am free. I am free to be me. And that is something more precious to me, a moment I consistently find, in every place, in every culture, every where I go, that I just can't get enough of.
I get to learn about this absolutely radiant being, and discover her and her adventures in new places, all over the world, and spend every single one of those seconds getting to know the real her. The magic within her. I get to watch her blossom, and increasingly grow into the most imperfectly perfect version of herself. I get to watch her open her mind and eyes to new experiences and people. I get to watch her make mistakes, and be so fiercely determined and independent that she figures out how to correct them and learn from them without losing her grip. I get to watch her spread her wings and fly, with a gleam in her eye without a care in the world.
I get to watch her spirit soar. I get to watch her lose concern for what other people around her might think of her, for choosing this "unconventional" path. And I love every second of it.
I have many passions in life. Traveling brings it all out for me. It helps me to discover hidden pieces of me locked away, waiting to be revealed. Traveling does what nothing else in my life has ever done-ignites my soul on fire and gives me life. And there will never be a day in my life I don't sing praises to my God for lighting this path for me. Home is where the heart is, and my home is traveling.