Flight Lessons for Land Mammals
|The journey is the sacred place.|
When I started this blog five years ago, I initiated with a meditation on Letting Go. I had just moved out of my beloved San Francisco Tenderloin oasis, to date the longest I've held an address in the last 13 years. I wrote about a sense of mourning to be closing that happy, stable chapter and shedding so much physical history. It's unimaginable that I used to have so much stuff! When I moved out of that apartment, I got rid of half of what I owned. When I left LA a few years later, I got rid of everything else, save for a few boxes. When I moved to New York, the standards for what got kept became even harsher- "Is this worth shipping cross country?" The answer is usually no.
As I prepare to move once again, it's surprising to observe how skillful I've become at nonattachment. I've learned that it's not that you don't love things, it's just that you can love them from a distance without ever seeing them. Even after gutting my physical possessions so thoroughly, I'm still filling a box of giveaways. I know that the things I've loved will go to someone else and I will still love them, even if they live in a new home...and eventually I'll probably forget about them entirely. Perhaps all letting go is this way. You don't have to stop having love for someone, but you also don't ever have to see or talk to them...and eventually you may forget all about them. This is love without grasping, without any kind of need or agenda. It's love without attachment, and it's as pure as winter's first snow, which, with the way the weather has been, I may miss entirely this year.
Yes, it's true. I love you desperately, New York, but I'm in the unique position of having the time, freedom and money to travel. Thus, I'm making like a migratory bird and flying south for the winter. Project Wild Freedom has left me exceptionally well prepared for this kind of movement, training me how to live comfortably with the barest of roots. This is a revolutionary concept for someone so at home in routine. What's an earthy yet wild, gypsy hearted, bird lady to do?
First of all, your body is the only lifelong physical home you're guaranteed. Keep it clean and use it well. Chasing wild freedom sometimes means going it alone. This is much less lonely if you're friendly with your body and yourself. For those of us who have a strong physical experience of life, being deeply rooted within is the only viable way to sustain sanity and calm while living in uncertainty. It's made much harder to root within if you're being unkind to yourself. Eat clean. Drink plenty of water. Sleep amply. Take your vitamins. Push yourself just far enough. You can't run free if you're totally run down.
You can also establish normalcy in abnormal circumstances. My friend Regina has known me for a long time and thus has observed my years unchanged bedtime routine. She will undoubtedly poke fun at it (more) as we travel together in the upcoming season, but it's an anchor. No matter where I am, I know how to take off my eye makeup, floss and brush my teeth, and wash my face. Regardless of how grueling or disoriently strange the day has been, I can come back to this and be at home in the routine in the moment. Be comforted by the simple, ordinary things you can do in extraordinary places.
When all else fails, make a little nest when ever you land someplace new. For all my talk of nonattachment, there is still a collection of items I have labeled on my packing list as "Precious Necessities." These are dear things to me which assist in a feeling of home wherever I go. If I lose my inner stability and grounding, these are the breadcrumbs to lead me back. The perfect tone of my singing bowl, the floral burn of rose incense, the smooth touch of my grandfather's rosary beads between fingertips. Home home home.
It's contrary to my basic nature to live as I've come to live, but the new thing being born of me demands my evolution. On the first day of my last major trip, after a night of dinner and gallivanting, I sat alone in my friends' London kitchen and wrote that it was so important to walk foreign streets and sit writing in foreign kitchens. But why? There are many benefits of travel but it's not a necessity. There is much to learn being still in the same place. I've mined great wisdom from my own depths sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom.
And yet! I know that if I don't sit writing in as many foreign kitchens as possible, my life will not fulfill its purpose. It feels too terribly important. The call of the wild is too clear and alluring. So even though we don't understand it, even though it frightens us, we fly anyway. We radically redefine what is truly valuable and necessary. We release the rest, and love and forget it from afar. We develop techniques to support our nature as it evolves. We connect to other weird, wild, wonderful hearts who understand the importance of sitting writing in foreign kitchens.
We stop worrying about being abnormal and what it may mean and oh gosh!
This path is a gift. Even if you're shaking, walk it anyway.
Let go let go go on.