Thursday, July 2, 2009

What I learned when I stopped standing still

It's hard to believe that less than 24 months ago, my life was over. I had two toddlers and my life was over. I drove a minivan...and my life was over. I was in a marriage where we were both miserable and my life was over. Freedom was a dream that I never knew I had, and exploration was something that only adventurous people did. I certainly wasn't one of those people. I couldn't do those things. My life was already over.

Then an epiphany. Maybe, just maybe, if I figured out what was killing me, I could fix it and learn to live. Months of soul searching and opening my eyes to the facts that had been staring me in the face led me to realize that the kids and the minivan weren't the reason that I felt pinned and alone. Misery was responsible for the death of my soul. That misery was caused by trying to nurture a marriage that was both poisoned and poisonous. So the cure was administered and all parties began to heal.

Still, I never thought I would be an explorer. Didn't ever think of traveling the country, let alone the world. Sure, there were people who did those kinds of things, but it wasn't something that I should be doing. I wasn't one of those people. I don't know what it was that made me believe that the right thing to do was set roots and keep a firm hold on the ground where I grew. Maybe it was soley the fact that I had never been told otherwise. Maybe my fears of the great-wide-open caused me to stay in my own little corner, even when the world was calling my name.

"Couldn't" turned to "shouldn't" then "wouldn't" until the opportunity to go to Beijing arose and I finally said "Why not?" Moments of guilt and doubt intervened, but friends prodded and when I listened to reason I knew that I had to go, if only to prove to myself that I could live my life on purpose. That was one week that changed my life.

I won't go into detail about the trip - not only because that story has been told - but also because it's not the content of the journey that caused my evolution, it's the fact that I took the journey at all. By the time I flew home, I knew that I *was* one of those people. I *was* someone who could and should and would explore the world around me.

Five short months later, I said "Why not?" again, and initiated a road trip that led a friend and I across more than 2,000 miles of paved and unpaved road. We saw new places, camped in all sorts of weather and geocached our way through treacherous terrain. We met a man that the world had forgot and navigated steep and winding roads that the earth had started to reclaim. The freeway brought us home without a hitch and I felt vindicated and empowered. There's a world out there to see and I don't want to see it by myself.

Who would be willing to accompany me on my quest to see the world? Who could tolerate hours in the car with me? The answer was right in front of me and illuminated by a little boy who tenderly proclaimed "Sometimes a four-year-old just needs his mommy." What better way to ensure adequate time together than forcing ourselves to buckle-up and hop from state to state? A little planning and we were off! The ease with which this road trip evolved was amazing. Everyone handled it wonderfully and with vigor. There was excitement growing with every mile and achievement every night. I was simultaneously satisfied and inspired. I've been bitten by the travel bug.

There have been moments when the image in the rearview mirror seemed far more sentimental than time spent in the first place, but it took visiting those locations to realize what I would miss when I was gone. Interests uncovered, geography discovered and friendships recovered, travel is both desirable and necessary as a catalyst to my personal growth. Hopefully, by furnishing it to my boys at such a young age, they will achieve greater heights than I.

I'm stable, I'm growing and I can honestly say that I'm alive. I'm living in a way that only I can, and embracing my unique situation. I know a whole lot more now than I did two years ago. I know who I am. I know what I want. I also know, that I don't want to live a life gathering moss. Roots are good, wings are better.

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