July 15th. I’m stuck in the middle! I’ve been wandering for about two months now, and have just under one month before my planned return to Reno; though, for how long I will return is still undecided. I feel like I’m, roughly, in the middle of this summer journey, by definition in the exact middle of July, and seemingly, in the middle of any decision-making processes I may be attempting. Originally I had planned to be making my way towards western BC by now, but due to the nature of traveling, and the ever-changing plans, detours, & unexpected adventures, I’ve found myself approximately, and quite synchronistically, in the middle of Oregon. I’m literally and figuratively, ‘stuck in the middle.’ In regards to this portion of my adventure, I have one month ahead of me and weeks of stories behind me, but I’ve been stuck with traveler’s indecision and writer’s block. Where to go from here??
Usually I’m all about balance, tending to believe that the middle ground is the most stable and provides the most equilibrium – usually a place I like to be or strive for. But there is one regard in which I am starting to question that logic, and I may just be turning into an extremist of a very specific kind…
I spent the last three days at the Oregon Country Fair, which is a fair/festival of sorts that has lots of music, art, craft/food vendors, and cool community gathering spots. I heard one person refer to it as “a street market on crack,” which seems like kind of a ‘fair’ call, considering it is only open to the public from 11am-7pm for three days of live music and one giant street market. At night though, once the general public is “swept” out, it turns into more of a private burning-man-esque party/festival. I didn’t stay overnight, but I did manage to dodge the sweep one night to sneak a peek of what life is like for the “fair family.” I’ll save the stories for another time, but there was one specific chain of events that is guiding me towards an extremist perspective on the age-old question – how do you balance being reasonable/rational with following your heart/soul?
I’ve been traveling with a gentleman who was working the fair, so we went to the grounds the day before so he could help set up; while we were there, I received some sad information about a friend who survived a car accident, but is now in a coma. I was devastated to hear this, and though I had been expecting to hear from her recently, I now understood why I hadn’t, and why I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. As the news sank in, I noticed what a contrast it was to be totally surrounded by an environment that was so charged with excitement and preparations for this big event to start, while receiving information that was yanking at my heart strings and instinctively making me want to retreat (either to solitude or to the company of close loved ones). When I returned to my current “home” for the evening, I tried to allow myself the freedom of embracing the emotional response I was having, and set the intention that I would be open and ready to embrace the fair in the days to come. Similarly, I hoped that by being present at the fair, and embracing all the positive energy and love, I would be able to send more loving, healing energy to this beautiful woman, who had been days away from attending a similar festival prior to her accident.
Once we had made it into the fair, I tried to casually bee-line our way to the “Altared Space,” guiding my travel partner only with the meandering direction that we needed to keep going right. I had heard of this area which was more focused on alternative healing, meditation, community support, etc; there were booths such as a sitting area for people to randomly connect with others for advice (such as a 5 year old boy giving advice to whoever sat down and asked), and a 20’ wide religiously varied altar with carpets in front of it for people to sit, pray, and meditate. I must’ve known it was the right place for me, because as soon as I found the space, one of the healers struck up a conversation with me, and shortly after, energy work commenced. It was interesting to observe other techniques used for energy healings, and pleasing to find that they were very similar to the techniques I’ve been trained in; more significantly though, the healer seemed to easily zero in on the energy I’ve been specifically dealing with lately. In the end, he guided me towards the mantra, “I have power in my emotions and I can trust my feelings.” It was a powerful statement, serving as a reminder to trust myself and the strength in my emotions (I’ve also found this to be a particularly powerful phrase for counteracting the diminishing statement “you’re just being emotional”).
The rest of the weekend and fair echoed sentiments of staying focused on love and positivity; a recurring theme that lately has been poignantly exposing itself in the books I’ve been reading, the classes I’ve been taking, and the connections I’ve been making. By the end of the weekend, though I had received no news of my friend, I felt like I had found another fountain of love and community, from which my soul happily drank. I returned to the Altared Space and found a tree from which you could hang hearts with personal statements, prayers, and wishes. Contemplating the events of the weekend, and the struggles I’ve been having, on one heart I wrote, for everyone, “may inspiration present itself, and all of our decisions be made with love.” I finished out the fair by listening to two beautiful women singing and performing spoken word at an open mic stage, then dancing to a reggae/hip-hop group who delivered positive, conscious, lyrical love, Alcyon Massive; ‘coincidentally,’ I had been introduced to this artist just weeks before by the surf instructor who had traded lessons with me in Mendocino.
Back in “normal” society, I had a few goals – spend some time contemplating where to go next (with several possible options about where to spend the next couple weeks, that’s a lot of opportunity for indecision!), write, and try to connect and catch up with some of my friends/family who I’ve been a little disconnected from lately. After I got my blood pumping at a new favorite workout class, I rode my (borrowed) bike around, focusing solely on trying to listen to my heart/soul about where I truly want to spend my time in the next couple weeks. Without revealing the decision I’m leaning towards (as officially, it’s still undecided), the answer I found was that I already knew where I want to spend that time – fears of expressing myself and following my heart, being denied, rejected, or judged, or things just not working out well, were the fears that were really holding me back, or stuck in indecision. When I continued to look at these options, I tried to think about them in the context of “if I knew any decision I make would work out, which decision resonates most with me?” or “if I had no fear about other people’s reactions/judgments, which decision feels best for me?” In those contexts, I think I know my answer…
I managed to connect with a couple of the friends/family I’ve been missing and though I’m not sure if either of them knew it at the time, their remarks, and our conversations, provided humor, support, wisdom, and inspiration. First, I spoke with one of my sisters and when I mentioned that I needed to talk to someone who could give me some reasonably-minded input, she happily offered; and without any prompting, followed up with the statement, “I can be reasonable! If you’re asking if you should elope…” (undeniably guiding that answer towards, yes). That was definitely not the question, but the universe’s twisted humor of her example being directly related to love was not lost on me; though my question wasn’t related to marriage, I think there was some truth to her answer…
As I concocted my new favorite beet salad (I’m obsessed!), I blasted music, letting myself drown in the sounds around me, somehow finding a certain silence in the noise, allowing me to hear myself a little more clearly. When the One Day/Reckoning Song came on, I found myself recalling a thought I had before I began this journey. The lyrics state “one day baby we’ll be old, and think of all the stories that we could’ve told,” and I remembered thinking before I left on this trip, “I want to do this trip now. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I feel the calling and I don’t ever want to look back and think of the stories I could’ve told; I’m going to live them now!” Hearing this song again made me think of these decisions in the same context – if I look back one day, is there anything I might look back on and think “I could’ve…, but…” or “if I could do it over, I would’ve…”
Later on I spoke with a friend who’s been contemplating a move of his own; we spoke of his decision and of my travels. When I mentioned I’d been dealing with writer’s block and indecision, and seem to be struggling with the balance between being rational and following my heart/soul, he commented, “ah, the age-old question.” Simply by conversing with him though, the shift in focus from fear to love was again reiterated, and the indecision continued to melt away with my shift in perspective. He told me to let him know if I found any insight on that age-old question, but he was in fact part of the conversation that provided the inspiration I’d been needing.
I think the answer to the age-old question is that you’re supposed to follow your heart. I don’t mean just wildly pursuing every whim your heart may crush on, but rather, listening to your heart and soul, on a really deep and spiritually connected level. The level that screams at you, “you have to do this!” The often quiet whisper that tries to help you hear, “without fear, this is what feels best for me.” The beating of your heart-drum that resounds in your soul and makes you know that if you don’t do “this” (whatever your this may be), then you might look back one day and wonder what you could’ve done.
Perhaps being rational is really just the mind’s mask for fear, but that’s a tangent I’ll save for another day. For now, I’m going to try throwing some of that balance out the window and start falling more towards the extremist side of that age-old question – maybe the answer is to follow your heart, or at least err in that direction. I’m still not entirely decided on where I’m going to be or what more I’m going to write, but I think I just might like this new-age, not in-the-middle answer…
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.