play it by heart

up up and away

the milky way and the last quarter moon

the days are hot, the air still and sulfuric, almost stifling with dry heat. the sunsets overcompensate, offering an apology in the form of resplendent pinks and purples stretching across the widest expanse of sky. the nights are warm, the darkness above impossibly filled with stars, the milky way visibly abundant in all of its luminescent glory.

it takes some time for the lessons i’ve learned to seep completely into my system, where i’m able to step back from myself and view the change more wholly. perhaps, also, it takes a makeshift retreat over this long weekend to the salton sea exactly one month after re-entry — back to a place by the water, and far enough from ‘civilization’, sans phone, armed only with tools for writing, painting, and creating — to reflect on how i have (and haven’t yet*) incorporated into my life all the things i’d purposed, including but certainly not limited to singing at the top of my lungs and dancing freely like a mad woman every chance i get.

it’s been one month since i left what had become the unparalleled comfort of unhinged travel, of unadulterated freedom — freedom not just from responsibility and obligation to anyone else but myself, but freedom of the mind and of the heart.

in many ways, i’m much clearer about my path(s) — i’ve learned to be more adept at hearing the quietest, truest voice inside, and i’m continually fine-tuning how to truly heed those whispers of the heart. i’ve also settled in so much more comfortably to who i am, what i believe in, and the ever-changing nature of both those things. a few months ago, i felt so… unsure. about everything — love, work, purpose and passion — but most simply and most importantly, about myself. i’m grateful for the opportunity to have shifted, at the very least, that. after all, self assurance is, for me, the foundation upon which any other purpose can be fulfilled.

in other ways, more questions have been raised than answers found. june 11, the day i boarded a plane to rome, seems altogether a few lifetimes, and a few yesterdays ago. maybe the difference lies in how i now approach those questions — with a conscious effort towards compassion, curiosity, and openness, rather than with fear, desperation, and suffering. but i still have my moments. i’m only human, only being.

i mean, how much of my life had been lived in comparison to the books i’ve read, the movies i’ve seen, to others’ whose lives seem incomparably and inaccessibly… ‘cool’? how much of my life had been lived in comparison to the “me” i thought i should have been?

i look out over the salton sea. these birds, they home in on their prey, and they dive right in. headlong, no hesitation. how i long to live that way. i’m getting there. it’s said that this particular body of water is colored brown, but appears blue only as a reflection of the sky. the birds don’t seem to mind, before or after they’ve plunged into the sea. they return, time and again, knowing that water is water. i’ve just begun reading the yoga sutras of patanjali. the third sutra (“then the seer [self] abides in its own nature”) expounds on the mind acting as a mirror of the true self. if the mind is muddied, the mirror distorted, the self might mistakenly see itself as such. but as the birds recognize the true state of the sea, so can the self recognize its unvarnished, peaceful nature. it just takes a bit of awareness and mindfulness. and practice, of course.

it’s been one month since i’ve returned “home,” to this opportunity to navigate my way forward with recently acquired resoluteness. so far, i’ve chosen love, forgiveness, and acceptance, i’ve cut myself free of a safety net that had in all actuality been strangling me, and i’ve temporarily released an opportunity in order to save my precious time and my sanity. because life can seem endless looking ahead, but so fleeting in review. because if i’m playing it by heart, how can i possibly go wrong? and here i am, still laughing, still singing and dancing every chance i get.

vidi mose pula

i get this feeling, sometimes after savasana in the moments after i sit up, eyes closed, palms up, sometimes after i’ve emerged from a state of deep relaxation or meditation, whether intentional or unintentional, that i’m somehow holding in my hands both everything and nothing at the same time. it’s an actual physical sensation that, in that moment, i yearn to capture and hold on to, knowing its fleeting nature, hoping that with just a little more time i’d be able to understand it and explain it more deeply. in the very next moment i accept its evanescence and allow myself to let the feeling wash over me, released from my control and grasping. there is an unmitigated freedom in being able to let go that i think i might not have found or recognized had it not been for my time on this journey.

i would have been certain that, after nearly a month in pula, i’d have a very difficult time leaving, having to say goodbye to new friends and family, to the places that had become my home in the city and by the sea. but a few days out from having parted, i feel only warm gratitude for the magical memories i’ve collected and eagerness for the next time i might make it back.

on my last night camping by the stinjan sea, storm clouds gathered that had been looming on and off for the last week, and then the rain finally fell. my new friends said that even the sky was sad about my leaving, but i promised them (and myself) that i’d return. we had our last dinner together, a mix of croatian meats and vegetables, with sweet muscat wine. the wind grew louder, the rain pelted more strongly, and we four were forced into a tent to finish our meal, just as the storm hit hardest, the deafening thunder almost drowned out by our laughter and music. i’d never witnessed such a downpour, and with such a fragile barrier separating me from the great power of nature! the uninhabited tents in our camp had been uprooted by the wind and tossed carelessly aside. but the storm didn’t last long, and in its wake the next morning, it left clear, crisp skies, under which i took one last happy float in the sea.

it hadn’t rained the entire time i’d been in pula, barely a cloud in the sky for weeks, except for that last night in stinjan. i wonder about the actuality of coincidences. it’s true there is always an end to every storm, but i never quite thought about how to be while it’s going on and beating down, until that morning after. i could wait it out patiently or impatiently, i could deny its existence with either fear or ignorance or both, or i could marvel in awe and laugh along with its raw beauty. the lessons, they find me, and there’s no longer a need to search.

i spent the rest of my last day on a neighboring sandy island, levan, for what my sweet friends had turned into my farewell party. we danced, sang, laughed, and cried until after the sun set, then moved our gathering back to the city, into the wee hours of the morning, until it was time for me to board a bus to venice. it was the most perfect ending i could have imagined to close out my time in the summer of pula, and i will forever be touched by the kindness and openness of these wondrous beings who lifted me up and helped me heal.

31

when i was much younger, i envisioned a substantially different version of 31. according to my previous calculations, i’d have already been married for four years (?!), i’d be on my second (or maybe third) kid (?!), and i’d be working half time as a pediatric oncologist and the other half as a war correspondent (?!). oh, and living in manhattan beach or something…

thinking about all that makes me giggle.

instead, i am as unattached as can be, flying freely halfway across the globe, the map of my life unfolding with each step forward rather than my sprinting to catch up to plans and expectations. i spent the twilight of my 30th revolution around the sun in reflection and relative solitude, lounging on my makeshift outdoor bed (a dilapidated cushioned lawn chair from the 90’s), gazing out over the stinjan sea, the impending full moon orchestrating a constant and uncharacteristic tumult of waves and creating an impromptu infinity pool on our natural rock terrace.

i thought about how broken and sad and confused i felt almost two months ago, and all the preceding events, both recent and old, that led to my taking off. i thought about how i was in search of equal parts self-discovery and escape. so much has shifted since i arrived in europe, though i am, of course, nowhere near having all the answers, nor am i completely free from fear. i did, however, discover deeper levels of acceptance and forgiveness, two recurring themes that have arisen in various ways and conversations throughout my time here. i felt overwhelming gratitude for every person and experience that has entered my life, for all the opportunities i’ve been given to learn infinitely more (and quite honestly, for not having been at this point in my life married for four years with two/three kids, lovely as that sounds [much] later.. maybe). i thought about how scared i was to be alone, and how being on my own now turns out to feel more comfortable than i ever could have imagined.

i rang in my 31st year in the city center, with new friends who have become family, who selflessly dedicated essentially three days to celebrating my birthday, replete with endless cheers, thoughtful presents and, of course, cake. the only thing that made it more special was receiving love from afar, and i think i’m seeing more clearly now how distance can truly incite clarity and illumination, as long as one heeds the heart rather than minds the mind. i ended the night back in stinjan, drifting off to sleep underneath falling stars, the sea reflecting the moonlight and merry singing and laughter set against an aural background of accordions and guitars. it was perfect, and gave me even more to be grateful for.

maybe i should have quit while i was ahead. to top off my third night of celebrating, one of alida’s friends came to meet us for drinks, a renowned astrologer. a brilliant mind, really, eccentric as they come. a wall of a man, with glasses and a greasy shoulder-length mane, clad in a wife-beater, ill-fitting shorts and jesus sandals. a self-proclaimed redneck from the mountainous central region of croatia. quite boorish but highly intelligent. he rattled off elements of my astrological chart that made me laugh uncomfortably, they were so frighteningly accurate. he continued with his reading, then became more frenzied, until, wide-eyed and basically frothing at snarled mouth, he pointedly near-shouted to me, “there is a man in your life!!! it is not a conventional relationship!! you are not woman enough to get your man!! YOU! CREATE! YOUR! OWN! HELL!!!!”

….. holy moly. check, please?? i think alida nearly slapped him in the face at this point, but settled for admonishing him in croatian and telling him to lower his volume. i laugh at it now, though i admit i went to sleep kind of freaked out. but he was right — any hell i live in is of my own creation and my own choosing.

enter acceptance and forgiveness. of the self and of others. and therein lies freedom. someone i’d met in rome told me, “if you have the choice — and you do — you should always choose forgiveness, and you should always choose love.” perhaps this is the biggest lesson i’m to learn on this journey. and what perfect timing — at the closing of one year and the beginning of a new one, and at my most spiritually open. i can feel the need to find and know releasing me from its grasp. and maybe my heart needed to break so that the pieces could find their way back to each other more perfectly. anyway. 31! i’ll choose love.

still here

i’ve figured out a possible reason as to why i’ve been unable to leave pula, and more specifically, this particular dwelling. on this very ground once stood the temple of diana, built by augustus at some point between 2 BC and AD 14. only one wall of the temple remains. diana was considered a triple goddess, reigning over the wild, the hunt, and the moon. but she was also heralded as a goddess of fertility as much as she was feared as a goddess of the kingdom of the dead. she was also regarded as a protector of the lower classes, especially slaves. the goddess diana was as multifaceted in personality as she was in title, moving among pureness and light to unpredictability to arrogance and vengeance.

so there you have it. i was drawn here and my heart was pulled to stay weeks longer than i’d intended for reasons not completely understood, but which, as i learn more of the history of this place provide further clues and connections.

my days have generally been spent attempting productivity, then tossing that purpose aside and giving in to what summer was meant for — lazing around (the heat makes this quite effortless), conversing profoundly over healthy and filling meals, and bounding back on a whim to our tent by the sea. i think i’ve been spending every other night in stinjan, which is only 10 minutes’ driving distance but feels worlds away.

the other night i sat at the edge of the sea’s cliff, marveling at a lightning storm in the distance. it has to have been one of the most spectacular things i’ve ever seen. i watched the center of the storm travel across the sky, from left to right, until only darkness and the occasional roar of thunder were left. i was held truly captive until the very end. oh nature, ever the showman.

when i first camped out almost two weeks ago, i somewhat dreaded the onset of night. i wasn’t keen on the inconvenience of not knowing what was out there that i couldn’t see, having to take extra caution where i stepped or with what might have been hanging overhead. but i quickly developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of the dark — the stars in the sky that vanish in the daylight, the heightened sense of sound magnifying the lullaby of the sea crashing against the rocks, the blooming trust that i’d always find my way. i would have never thought i’d grow to love the night as much as i love the day. there are obvious parallels to other aspects of my life that can be drawn from my ongoing experience with nature. i think i might even be meeting the sunrise with a bit of trepidation now. or it could be the obscene sound of seagulls scream-laughing alerting us that it’s morning/feeding time.

as you may have guessed, i’m off to stinjan (again) for more clean, yummy food, some wine, and my favorite place to rest my head and my heart. but i’ll be back in pula tomorrow for another attempt at productivity (maybe), some yoga, and the beginning of my birthday celebration(s)! ❤

ps. 31, you are just around the corner! ahhh!!!!!!

six days in stinjan

yikes, it’s been a while since i last posted, so i’ll share some pictures and try to write something more tomorrow. i spent all day indoors working, yes working blech — not exactly what i wanted to do today but i’m also recovering from a bad cold/cough, sunburn, and more! my body is worse for wear but my spirit flies high, hallelujah amen, i love nature. ttfn ❤

savasana at sea and the conquering lion

the other day i came upon this quote by rumi:
“let the beauty we love be what we do / there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

i imagine there are also hundreds (or more) ways to fall off a standup paddle board face first into the adriatic. i’ve mastered at least two of those.

yesterday morning, in keeping with my renewed exercise and diet regimen, i accompanied lucia to a sup yoga class. ha! now this is the perfect combination of something i love (yoga) and something i fear (open waters :/ ). i was certain my love would override my fear, such is my all-encompassing reverence for the practice of yoga. then i settled into a pose i thought i had down, and in the next moment found myself flailing directionless in the sea. water streaming in and out of every hole of my face (attractive), i scrambled back onto my paddle board, admittedly with little further desire to continue on with these shenanigans. i closed my eyes and took a deep breath, pondering momentarily my recent frustration with allowing my fear of the known or unknown to dictate my actions and reactions, and got back up. in the end, i got up into headstand (!!) without falling back into the water! and steadily, too! (pictures to come.) in accepting (and loving) my fear, it came to be that it didn’t matter whether i stayed upright or fell back in. and how else am i to master this damn thing anyway? if the worst that happens is my coughing up salt water for two solid minutes, well, that’s not so bad. it just so happened that i didn’t end up somersaulting into the sea. all in all, it shifted my perspective on how to better handle my relationship with fear. i love when epiphanies emerge in abstract ways.

i’ve moved across the hall from my pula studio into the delightful home of the studio’s owners, alida and her daughter lucia, two beyond beautiful beings who have become my host family in this unpredicted and makeshift exchange student program. (school: life/spirituality.) when i left madrid, i spoke of how lizvet acted as one of my unforeseen healers, and now i’m in the company of not one, but two, actual healers. as in, by profession. (among other things, including linguist, professor, artist, dancer, yoga teacher, etc.) how serendipitous and perfect! needless to stay, i (still) haven’t left pula but am thoroughly basking in my time here.

what a different experience i might have had had i not come into alida and lucia’s company. i think i’ll elevate myself to semi-local status — it’s a small town, in the hot (so hot.) summer filled with mostly croatian and european tourists, and here i am, greeting people on the streets or beaches for the umpteenth familiar time. but i’m certainly not local enough to lose any childlike wonder upon seeing remnants from ages past dispersed throughout this place. they’ve become almost a part of nature here, and just as treasured. at least that’s what i gather from the locals.

oh, a random observation — if there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground, perhaps there are infinitely more ways to keep from doing so. one of these non-ways may be sarcasm. people here don’t employ sarcasm. they speak from the heart, always, but are able to remain humorous and light, if the occasion calls for it. in keeping with my desire to live as the locals do, i’ve not been employing sarcasm either. i wonder, what’s the purpose anyhow? it’s a defense, a barrier guarding my vulnerability. and at its core, it can be aggressive and mean-spirited. it’s different from irony, which sometimes just appears out of nowhere. sarcasm requires intention. hmm. anyway, just spittin’ some non-sarcastic insight into the workings of my ever-evolving mind. 😉

today i’m off for a long weekend of camping by the sea (read: no internet), sun worship, moonlight dancing, and any other astrologically-termed fun that might come up. i’ll also be nursing my re-injured knee (not as bad as the first time, even still, ughhhh), but i’ll still find a way to kneel and kiss that ground. ciao! ❤

dobro? dobro.

i’m experiencing the perfect type of ‘tired’ — the satisfying kind of tired your body melts into from letting go and existing in a way that makes an entire 24-hour cycle seem somehow both impossibly long and terribly short. the kind of tired that results, in part, from taking in too much sultry sun and dancing all night under a boundless cloak of stars, then falling into bed well after dawn has cracked wide open.

it works out that i’m on no one’s schedule but my own, because i’ve decided to stay in pula a little while longer than i’d initially intended. there’s truly an incandescent and revitalizing energy here in a mix of the land and the people, that won’t let me leave just yet. not that i would have put up much of a fight. i’ve been gladly and unexpectedly adopted into an endearing group of young pula natives. i’m not sure what, if anything, i was anticipating from pula or its inhabitants, but i’ll admit that they’ve astounded me with their depth, kindness, honesty, and generosity. they really do seem to operate from a higher level of consciousness and awareness, comfortable in who they are and what they’re not. but they also know how to have a good time, whether that means floating peacefully in the sea or partying gleefully until the sun emerges on the horizon. essentially, they’re living manifestations of what it is to play it by heart.

are you familiar with the concept of ley lines? some might find this a bit fatuous, but bear with me (and feel free to educate me further/correct me if i’m wrong). from what i understand, ley lines are the geographical alignments between ancient monuments or otherwise historically important sites. along these lines, particularly their intersections, lie positive spiritual or psychic energy. maybe this has to do with the earth’s magnetic field, maybe these lines are wondrous reflections of the astrological map, maybe it has nothing to do with anything more than one man’s overwrought imagination.

at any rate, istria, the peninsula on which pula is placed, is home to one such intersection of three ley lines, one of those lines stretching the entire length of the peninsula down to cape kamenjak, located on istria’s southernmost tip. and this is where i spent the second half of the day yesterday, with two new friends. to conclude this lengthy explanation, i will say that cape kamenjak is indeed special. i suppose it’s not something i can suitably explain (barring my apparent textbook chapter up there). it’s more that i found myself awash in feelings of calm, and acceptance, and mindfulness.

so, yes, i think i will subscribe to the notion of what ley lines represent. and therein lies the appeal of spirituality — it’s completely subjective, and one can pick, choose, and borrow desirable ideas from as few or as many sacred domains as one sees fit for as short or as long as one pleases.

there was a moment we paused on our climb back up the cape’s rocky beach, just as the sun was setting, to turn back towards the water. it was so wonderfully peculiar to somehow experience fully the quietness of this magical place, even at the same time scattered conversations spread out along the coast. i remember longing to jump up into the spellbinding sunset and drift along in its colors the same way i did in the tranquil sea moments before.

even the exit from cape kamenjak is enchanting. to reach the coast one must walk/bike/drive along chalky roads dividing wooded areas. the dust from the ground whirls up into the sky and settles onto the trees and plants lining the road, so that everything becomes shrouded in white. it’s eery but captivating, as if it’s an ancient dream land, bygone and perfectly preserved for us here, now. and then you emerge onto the cement road leading away from the cape, and the greens of the trees and the blues and purples and oranges of the sky radiate even more vibrantly. it’s quite the communing-with-nature experience.

today it’s a bit cloudy, though that has no bearing on the high temperatures, so the square is even more bustling now that the usual beach dwellers have swarmed just this tiny bit closer inland (myself included). i’m off to return to the tranquility of this lazy day, and also sending all of my love to all of my loves ❤

dobar dan

when i awoke this morning (actual morning, not 2pm), before i even opened my eyes, i felt a sense of calm. i could feel the sun trying to make its way in through closed shutters, the scent of blown out candles from last night still somehow lingering in the air, this little croatian town rubbing its sleepy eyes and coming to life. this is peace.

then i opened my eyes, and immediately began to panic. as much as i’ve needed this time abroad for a month now (!), not to mention the romance and exhilaration of an open-ended return, responsibility looms. much as i’ve enjoyed living as though i’ve forgotten that i’m not made of money, i am actually not made of money. there are books to be edited and proposals to be written, jobs to be searched/kept (eek) and futures to be planned. money to be made back that has been thrown around like the celebrity i am not. life to be figured out! so, i did what i do best — panicked, procrastinated, and produced, in that very order. i’m happy to say that, as a result, my panic has now subsided and i’ve returned to the aforementioned sense of calm. in case you were wondering.

i arrived in pula two nights ago, a small town on the tip of the istrian peninsula in the adriatic sea. i wondered why it seemed so familiar, then soon realized it’s probably because in ancient times it was part of the roman republic (love me some rome). ruins strewn about and roman buildings still standing are evidence of that. my little studio is on the third floor of a building situated directly adjacent to the temple of roma and augustus, built in the first century (so cool). in places like this, i love walking around aimlessly, day or night, and i especially love coming across unexpected relics, like a 3rd century cathedral that’s also home to a 5th century sarcophagus (also super cool).

it’s been weeks since i’d set foot in a church. i’m really not a church goer (at all), but on my travels i have to admit it’s given me a sense of comfort, of grounding, of reflection. i don’t attend masses or anything, but there’s something about these holy places that continually draws me in. i figure some of it must be desperation, but i like to think there’s much more to it than that. the interior wasn’t particularly impressive in terms of ornateness, but there in its hushed simplicity i found an appeal and an appreciation. it also made me ponder the purpose of such intricately designed churches versus the more subdued. i also wondered, if all of our prayers and worries became visible and tangible when we released them into the naves, would we be able to survive its weight? at what point would they begin to vanish, and where might they end up?

i left the church and wandered over to the pula arena, one of the largest surviving roman amphitheaters in the world. it’s quite a sight, all this limestone and history, the sea visible through the open arched walls. i sat on the warm stone, thinking about who might have sat in that same seat a few millennia ago. i imagine a stinky and confused look took over my face a few moments later, as i began to wonder how, at any point in humankind, such a beautiful structure could possibly inspire or contain such violence. like, why murder as entertainment when there’s azure water thirty yards away for a relaxing swim and perhaps some sunbathing? but, to each millennium his own version of preventable human destruction, we of today are certainly not blameless in this present day of never-ending wars. [end tirade.]

fate made it so that the owner of my flat offered me a yoga class (she said that she felt she must ask me to join, for some reason, fortuitous! yoga game recognize yoga game.), taught by her daughter. it was perfectly timed and so necessary. just as i’ve begun gearing up to gear up to return, i am making my return to physical fitness, as joyous as stuffing my face with absolutely no regard for muscle tone has been. as i said a few posts ago, i do believe in the interconnectedness of it all — fit body, fit mind, so on and so forth.

hmm, yesterday turned out to be a really good day. it ended with the windows open, mosquito and non-mosquito candles lit, live music drifting up from the spirited square down below, gratitude sweeping over me for everything that has led me here to this very moment. tomorrow, i board a sea plane down to split. tonight, we dance. vidimo se! (that’s ‘see you later’ in croatian ;))

hi

i told myself i wouldn’t write to you until after i returned home, whenever that may be. to be honest, if you hadn’t left that comment, i may not even have thought about contacting you at all. i just would have ended up seeing you at mikey’s wedding, and that would have been that.

when i read what you wrote, i felt so many things, and have felt so many more things since. i wondered if there were something between the lines for me to read, if there were more you might have left unsaid. i felt comforted knowing you missed me and that you were thinking of me. i was surprised that you’d gotten a hold of my blog to begin with. i felt angry that you reached out, because hearing from you made me feel a little bit like i was transported back to the beginning of our breakup, an unwelcome interruption in my jet-setting and frivolous healing process. i was dumbfounded at such a semi-public display of your feelings, especially given where you and i are. i was glad for the opportunity to see how quickly i might be able to hop back up and continue on this journey with the simultaneously old and new knowledge that you love me and that i have no idea what the future will bring. i thought it selfish. i thought it romantic. i would read what you wrote over and over and over again, then i’d put it out of my mind for an equal amount of time as i’d been obsessing over it. i wonder if you still mean now what you wrote, and maybe didn’t write, then.

i’ve turned everything over in my head in every which way, and what i’ve come to know for sure is that i have no answers. sometimes i wonder who’s loving you or making you laugh, in the way i might have, and my heart aches in this way that makes me instantly and instinctively clutch my chest to keep it from falling out of my body. but what i also know is that i want you to feel free, and happy, and safe, and heard, and loved. and if you happen to be deeply, unselfishly loved and laughing heartily, then i can find a way to love whomever is giving that to you, that tiny fraction of all that you deserve.

i have no idea if we should or shouldn’t be, if we must or we mustn’t, if we will one day sooner or much later end up together, if we will never again be as close as we once were. maybe we’ll never be able to give each other the things we need at the times we need them, or maybe our universes will shift to align more perfectly than anything that’s ever been. maybe we were never meant to last, or maybe we’ll end up being together far longer than we’ll have ever been apart. maybe, also, whether any of that turns out to be true or not is none of our business right now.

i’ve been feeling kind of uninspired and stuck and distracted in various realms of my life, and maybe not as honest as i’d like to be, and now i recognize where the block is. now i know why. it’s because my heart is telling me to speak to you all this, despite my mind wondering if that’s really the best idea. but part of my healing is honoring where my heart leads me — alone in this place we might have gone together, that fleeting idea the only logical connection to you. i can’t keep pretending you exist only in my not-so-distant past. you’re still very much with me, whether that’s right or wrong. i speak of you so highly and with such fond remembrance, that sometimes it feels as if we’re still best friends and the loves of each other’s lives.

it led me to this place, and it’s leading me to tell you this — that i think of you often, and i miss you. it’s strange to have all these feelings and doubts and hopes, and to keep them to myself. there was a purpose to that, i’m so very sure of it, but i’m not sure if there’s sense in it anymore. i’ll still go my own way, to wherever and for as long as my heart dictates, and i’m certain you’ll go yours. these words are only a stop along the way.

a bike and a boat

i’m not quite sure it’s ever really mattered where i’ve been or where i am. in the world, that is. as historically epic as it may be, it likely has zero bearing on anything or anybody for more time than it takes to read that my little apartment in seville was situated directly on the road on which the spanish inquisition led thousands of ‘heretics’ to their deaths in the late 1400’s. it really doesn’t matter the infinite number of delightfully surprising european quirks i note every two feet that remind me that i’m far away from “home.” nor does it mean that much that the church bells pealing ever so clearly on this summer night in amsterdam are the very same ones anne frank heard in her hiding place down the street, over seventy years ago.

because no matter how far away one goes, the thing that’s there is still there.

and then i hop on a bike and i ride next to the canals, on hills and off drawbridges, for as far as my pedals will take me. i ride in a boat along those canals, all sun and spray, and i feel some layers shed and emerging in their place, a lightness.

i’m not much of a bicyclist (this is a strong understatement). i’m not even really sure the last time i rode a bike.. i think two years ago? in canada? there are a good number of things — daily activities for many people, i’m sure — that scare me. for instance, riding a bike in a very bicycle-oriented city, or swimming in the open and unpredictable ocean. but i do them anyway. sometimes i’m glad i did (i.e., biking in amsterdam — not trying to brag, but i think i should start a biking crew now, okay maybe i am bragging a little bit), sometimes i’m less glad (i.e., jumping into the merciless sea — but i’ll probably keep doing that one as it’s so closely connected to the sand and the sun).

there are a good number of other things that scare me — following the ‘must’ instead of the ‘should’, figuring out the ‘must’ to begin with, in matters of love and work and my relationship with myself. and some of these i have refused/still refuse to do. for no reason other than fear. or, for no reason other than that my fear is greater than my courage. …that’s a scary thing to say. a thing (heretofore) scary enough for me to file it under the list of things that scare me that i refuse to do.

are you still with me? i just googled “reminder.” the definition: “a thing that causes someone to remember something.” ….hahahahaha. well if that isn’t the most perfectly [me] thing to say, i’ll just be so darned.

oh, my apologies, you wanted to hear more about amsterdam. well, i’ve been eating what seems like on the hour every hour for the last two days. all sorts of magical food — crepes and ice cream and chocolate and pizza and dutch food (holy meatfest!) and indonesian food (see: “reminder” definition) and fries and vietnamese food and how is any of the 75% of this that has nothing to do with the netherlands on this list. i try to convince myself i’m willingly fattening myself up while i’m out here, but really i’ve just lost a bit of control. or maybe i’ve released some control. is the glass half empty of is it half full? is my plate heaping (the second it arrives underneath my nose) or is it barren and licked clean (6.3 minutes after it arrives underneath my nose)? is my mind full of conditions or is my heart full of self-love?

i fell asleep to these words of a song.. “a new world hangs outside the window / beautiful and strange..”

off to croatia now and hopefully a much lighter diet, to that beautiful and strange new world.