Eat, Pray, Drive … Pt. II

“I think I deserve something beautiful.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Those of you who have read the book or perhaps have seen the movie “Eat Pray Love” know that it’s the story of a woman who went on a world-wide travel adventure to “find herself.” She spent four months in three different locations, each with a bend toward a different aspect of the human condition … sensual satisfaction of the palate, ears and eyes; deep soul searching and a sublime transcendent union with the universe; and finally the blending, the balancing of it all in glorious love. A friend recently commented that The Ride reminded her in some ways of this memoir, and it didn’t take long for me to recognize how very right she was. Nor long to borrow the book again from our local library to re-examine it with a new understanding and fresh perspective. Although my journey was never about “finding myself’,” the endless miles of driving did, nevertheless, bring a cornucopia of new insights and some surprising changes (like that I suddenly love bright colored clothes, sparkly nailpolish and purple curtains … I mean, really, where on earth did that come from??) in this person I call lovingly call “me.” And also a realization of something rather interesting….

I separated from my husband, who I later divorced, in 1989 after 10 difficult years of marriage. From 1989 to 2003 – a period of 14 years – I spent on myself, for the most part, catering to typical human needs and wants … working, relationships, enjoying theater, music, art, food, parties, shopping, wine, sex, etc. … and not giving much thought, if any, to the spiritual side of life. In 2002, I moved from PA to NY state, to live in the area where many generations of my ancestors had lived and died – and to get away from a pressure-filled job and the crowded, noisy city. To quietly enjoy a peaceful, slower-paced life among the lushly beautiful hills and checkerboard farmlands of Upstate NY. A few months after I moved I entered into a relationship that, upon its heartbreaking demise in 2003, had me careening off into a quest for understanding, from a spiritual level, the why’s and wherefores of myself and life … and a few other people. Initially, I spent four solid days doing nothing much more than staring at a lake deep in the Adirondack mountains, repeatedly whispering the words “Show me” to the waters, the woods, the sunsets. To any bit of the cosmos that would listen. And possibly answer. I came back full of hope and curiosity … and delightedly delved into 14 years of spiritual pursuit and enlightenment.

As I returned from my two years on the road in early May, I knew there would be a period of readjustment, a need to rebalance, or as a Facebook friend called it, “unpacking.” What I hadn’t realized was just how much of a challenge this unpacking process would be … re-entry into the orbit of “normal” life is taking longer than I anticipated, gravity weighing in with force and heat shields straining under the blaze of a new day’s light. Just who is this person now? What are her hopes and dreams today … and what are they going forward? Where does her soul meet her humanness? I find it rather provocative to discover that prior to the Ride, my adult life had consisted of two very separate and distinctly different 14 year periods. As I enter into what will most likely be the last parenthetical period of my life (though I admit I hope for a little longer than 14 years!), I, like Elizabeth Gilbert in the book, am looking at a beautiful time of coalescence. A time of balancing, of the bringing together … a blending and an integration of the seasons of my life that had gone before. An epoch of giving birth to what is yet to come. “At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.” Contentment, yes indeed. And maybe even that last glorious love.

For now, though, I think I’ll pour a glass of wine, sit on the deck, and watch the sun set. Each day will come when its due.

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Eat, Pray, Drive … Pt. I

“Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined.” ~ Deepak Chopra

At 7:48 AM on June 17th, 2015 – two years ago – having no idea of what would lie ahead, I posted this photo to my Facebook page. Seventy minutes later I turned out of my driveway, having sold or given away just about everything I owned – save for what could be tightly squeezed into the back of my little Subaru – and began the most incredible 23 months of my life … a journey that took on a life of its own and became known simply as “The Ride.” Looking back as I sit here this morning – having returned home to the lush rolling hills of NY state, and now sipping coffee on the deck of my new apartment – it is still hard for me to believe that it all really happened. Most of it still so hard to grasp, as if a distant dream that I’ve just wakened from … and yet at the same time, though I sit looking at the same green hills I did before I left, they are now different, as am I.  I find myself still working at waking up, dancing through the cobwebs of it all.

So many changes internally … not to mention the recently birthed plethora of gray hair and a few fresh wrinkles that now line my face … changes I had not anticipated, and changes I cannot yet fully label or understand the why and how they came about. Recently someone said that my journey reminded them of the book “Eat, Pray, Love.”  Well, actually, she said it reminded her of the movie, but having read the book before, I thought it deserved a re-read, and borrowed it from the library.  She was right.  I’d not thought of it before, nor did I leave on The Ride seeking any particular spiritual quest … I simply wanted to travel and meet people.  Live with them, share their lives, their hopes, their sorrows. Maybe write about them.  But in that process, The Ride did indeed become a pilgrimage of sorts.  It became the bringing-together of an even longer journey … the period at the end of a 28 year passage through two very distinct parts of my life.  No, correction … it became a comma, a semi-colon.  The third part is just beginning.

It is so very true … I had it all mapped out, like we all do, this walk on the earth we call Life … and yet things happen, things that take us on the most incredible journeys, things that change us in ways we did not expect, things that give us unexpected gifts of challenge, joy, love, and growth. Two years and a million psychical miles … I’m looking forward to what lies beyond the semi-colon.

The Returning…

“Coming home … all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.” ~ John Le Carre

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And indeed it is true. Welcome to “Part II” of this Ride – the return home. The sunrise, the dawning of a new day, a new life. And a new look to the blog. While the actual Ride – the 23 month sojourn across the country – is over, a new and very different kind of journey now begins. It is one that is quite different than I’d expected. And often quite surprising … many times I find myself literally “laughing out loud” or stopping to wipe away a tear. Emotions, feelings, convictions have changed. Here you’ll read about those changes and others: The many habits that made sense for (and on) the Ride that no longer do; moments that give me pause for thought as I work to rebuild my life here once again; the times when I’ve felt as if floating somewhere in a void … what was is no longer, yet what is to come has only begun to unfold. So many changes, but so much also remains unaltered. I am not the same person as when I left two years ago, and yet I am more fully myself. Yes, the sweet dichotomy of Life.

So with that brief introduction, I give you the Ride’s “new” blog … a journey into a new life. A new adventure, a new “Ride” of sorts – complete with all of the questions, the moments of hesitation and the days of excitement, the joys and the laughter. The hopes and memories. And perhaps a few tears in-between. The surviving of it all. You’ll find all of the old posts from the Journey/Ride itself on a separate page now – “The Ride: April 2015 – May 2017” (tab on the menu at top of page) – and you’ll see the a different banner photo from the those years every time you visit, so be sure to check back often. And don’t forget to sign up to follow me by email. You’ll find that link at the bottom of the page … it’s a good way to keep up to date with what is happening, and WordPress will only send you a single notification when I post – no other junkmail.

Thank you – ALL – once again for following along with me, both on The Ride, and now, as this new adventure begins. It has truly been an honor and a delight to have you riding shotgun, and I look forward to all that lies ahead. You know, we’re given our dreams for a reason … not to torture us, but to show us what IS possible, and we’re given the talents to make it all happen. Life is a beautiful and gracious gift, and one that is meant to be unwrapped, enjoyed, and used up. As my Father would say, “Make it so, sweetheart, make it so….”  And so I shall.