My family and I had been living abroad for six months in Central America. It felt impermanent, like an extended vacation, because we still had a home and pets in the USA. Life was pressing us to make a decision, should we stay or should we go? There have been very few times in my life when I allow myself to be ambivalent about big life decisions. Usually, I create a synthesized happiness and rationale for whatever decision I make. I demonize what I am leaving and glorify the new. But this time, I have been able to stay in a liminal space of seeing the pros and cons of both lifestyles, and have felt perpetually indecisive.
And this comes in a time of my life when I’m doing a major life-cycle readjustment. I have been grieving the loss of my youth and trying to embrace entering the age of Mother and Crone. There has been an interesting assessment going on….what beauty customs should I keep, which ones have had their time and now to let them go? Who am I without youth and the traditional beauty that comes with youth? What is my role in the world? What is success? What have I accomplished and what is left to do?
In this transition and self reflection, my husband and I re-examined our past history too. We are blessed to have a wonderful relationship that has weathered many challenges, but more often, we have enjoyed extended periods of time when we thrive together. I have been married to Marty for 17 years, and together for 23.
We have moved 11 times in 20 years. That’s an average of every 2 years! We have left Salt Lake City, Utah, our birthplace, for three of those moves. I guess we have feel comfortable in Utah, but very underwhelmed with its potential for us. We have been wandering gypsies trying to find a home in all sorts of different places. We have adapted to the contrast of the center of Los Angeles, from the little ghetto of Denver (5 Points), to the rural tranquility of Mount Shasta. And now adapting to the jungles of Costa Rica.
I guess I have been seeking home. I find it deeply archetypal that in psychic readings I have had done for me, I am usually told most of my previous incarnations have been on alien planets. I guess that’s why I wander, to find something familiar. But if I am an alien, nothing is familiar in this world. Whether their insights are ‘real’ or not, doesn’t matter. The symbol deeply resonates with me. I feel as if I am constantly searching for something I can’t quite articulate.
Recently, we went back to the States to tie up loose ends. We made our decision permanent to leave Utah and move to the jungle. Utah, the place we grew up in, has been the place we have returned to countless times. Every time we have fled for greener pastures, some combinations of circumstances would eventually suck us back. We lost our jobs, we had twins, someone in the family was dying, our parents needed us.
And this time, in Utah I was welcomed by the gorgeous house we were about to put on the market. When we lived in it, the house seemed humble compared to the other homes of our friends and family members. But this time….Wow! Granite countertops and toilets that I can flush my toilet paper down! Crown moldings, hot water! A CLOTHES DRYER! Everything seemed luxurious. Going to Target was actually a sublime experience, everything so shiny and readily available. My mind was swimming with incredible breadth of options of STUFF! And of course, I love my friends and family. That is the real staying power of Utah for me. The first weekend, they threw a birthday party for me, and I was reminded how incredibly beautiful the souls are we left behind.
But my enthusiasm quickly faded. Utah, and maybe all the USA, feels like an amusement park to me. The first hour is super fun and exciting, but then my back hurts and I get a belly ache from the cotton candy and overstimulation. In Utah, the amusement park theme is Mega-Corporations and Mega Military! I get in a little cart that takes me along the well-worn tracks up and down. There are a few little thrills, but you always know where you’ll end up. Everything feels over discovered and used up. I feel there is a hopelessness and entropy of a dying empire. Everyone knows it, but soothes themselves with IMAX movies and iPhone5’s.
During our stay, I was overwhelmed by the complexity and stress in the life I had there. Perhaps because my armor had softened having been in such a tranquil place for the past six months. I felt that all my protection was gone. Upon arrival in Atlanta, CNN was blaring news about the latest kidnappings and the government recording everyone’s phone calls. I felt overwhelmed by it all. It felt harsh. The smiles I am greeted by when I go on my morning walks in Costa Rica, were replaced with drawn, agitated expressions. Suddenly what was familiar to me seemed foreign and strange. For the first two weeks, I smiled and greeted everyone I could in an effort to preserve the good feelings I had. But after a month, I was back to scowling like everyone around me.
My mother was having surgery, my father-in-law was grappling with life threatening health issues, my dad’s brother’s death. We were frantically moving out, going through every slip of paper and object we had ever owned and pairing it down to a tiny storage unit. Selling cars and camp trailers, giving away half of everything, painting walls and cleaning out raingutters. Getting our money, or lack of it, in order.
A poignant moment that stands out for me was visiting my dad at his machine shop with a couple of mattresses that didn’t fit in the storage unit. I remember my father’s sad face. I haven’t seen him cry except a few times. He hugged our son, tears in his eyes, and a stoic smile. I can’t get the image out of my mind, without words about our departure for fear of giving me a guilt trip, his eyes said it all. I felt bad for taking the grandkids away from him and my mom. If I were a ‘good girl’ I would stay home like I am supposed to.
But the biggest obstacle is nothing external, it is me. Me, with the goddamned fear that seems find me and settle into my psyche. I find it so strange I live such an adventurous life given how risk averse I am. I don’t like breaking rules or getting into trouble. I do it because I have such a deep sense of wanting to have an ultimate life experience that the desire overrides my fear. If life was a parachute jump, I have mostly just closed my eyes and leapt out of the plane. But in doing that, I have missed most of the scenery.
The stress of being in the States for those few weeks quickly caught up with me. About a month in, I started having severe stomach pain. And, out of control anxiety….so bad I would wake up in the middle of the night out of a deep sleep, crying in a full blown panic attack. I would cry out, “I’m dying!” gasping for air. Marty would comfort me, rubbing my back, “Deep, belly breaths, babe. Deep belly breaths.” I kept laying out the Handl Tarot, and 12 times it brought the Death card.
One fitful night of sleep brought a nightmare, in the dream, Marty came in to the bedroom and announced I was too old for him, I was too sick. He said, “I need new blood.” As is often the case in my nightmares, the interactions were overdramatic and overemotional as if they’re taking place in a Mexican soap opera. Except they are gravely horrific for me when they are occurring. I clutched at him, hysterical and he looked away with a blank stare. I woke up in a cold sweat. “I’ve got to go to a doctor and find out what is wrong.”
I’m not sure how it happened, but the samsara caught me and before I knew it, I was getting blood tests, stool samples and an ultrasound. I ended up in that goddamned little cart on the tracks. The ride was called “WORST CASE SCENARIO! The American Health System”. Luckily nothing was found other than a flora imbalance in my gut. And, funny enough, all symptoms disappeared once I got back to the jungle. I am so deeply grateful what I was experiencing wasn’t life threatening. But it was a wake up call to embrace what really matters and leave the rest behind. My family, my friends, nature, being alive and going for it are what persists.
I learned so much about myself the past two months. I learned that I create my reality, absolutely yes, but there is an undeniable influence from the consensual reality. Each place has a shadow. Our task is to learn the shadow of the place we choose to live, and if the pros outweigh the cons to stay. Nowhere is perfect.Nowhere is utopia. A friend once told me to find the place I can most be myself, and that is most natural to my nature. I’m still trying to figure out if the location I am in is that place to unfurl fully. I’m not sure yet. I may need to go searching again, and that is OK.
I also learned I am a wanderer by nature. Its OK that I move often. Its OK that I change my mind. I have been given an incredible life where I have had opportunities to explore a lot. If that is who I am, then so be it. I embrace that, I embrace uncertainty and indecision and I can enjoy the liminal space in between. Because really, we never totally KNOW everything, so why not surrender to the mystery? I want to ask this question each day… “How can I feel the most alive in this moment?”
I’ve been listening to Louise Hay and Mona Lisa Schultz’ audio book “You Can Heal Your Life” and Wayne Dyer’s “Wishes Fulfilled”. Powerful medicine. I can feel my body has been coping with the transition by forcing me to slow down, but circumstances were requiring me to forge ahead….but only for a short period. So, when I am in that situation, shift my perspective to be calm in the eye of the storm.
I am back to deep mediation and affirmation practice.
The trip had been beyond-the-beyond in terms of stress and emotional drama. I looked forward to getting back to my mountain and my jungle. Now that I am here, I am looking out of my little office window and the afternoon rains are starting up. A flock of parakeets just flew overhead and I hear the laughing voices of my children in the living room downstairs. My body feels good and I feel centered. I even have enough energy and creative libido to write. This feels good to me.
Now, in reflection, I see how the transition, from an old, comfortable life to a new, foreign one, has been a deeply archetypal one for me. The Tarot was right, there has been a Death. It has been a death in which a large part of my old Self died and a new Self is in the process of emerging. My old ways of being in the world were no longer serving me. Even though they were outdated, I held onto them because it was all I knew. Like an overdue baby, I was quickly outgrowing what was familiar. The longer I stayed being a big baby, the more panicked I felt. I feel the anxiety was springing from a deep sense of loss and grief without knowing what the new and exciting was waiting around the corner. And I still don’t know.
I am learning to jump out of the plane and keep my eyes open.