You can’t travel anywhere if you don’t buy a ticket.

Lately I have been feeling the most intense urge to travel.

I always saw myself as the girl who doesn’t do much adventuring, one who stays home and toils away at her work, selflessly giving of her energy and never taking anything for her self. Maybe it’s because my family never traveled; the most extravagant trip we ever went on was to Victoria when my dad had to go there for work and we somehow were able to manipulate it into a family vacation. Then I went to Europe in high school on a trip organized by my French teacher, a ten-day extravaganza that my teenage mind saw as an opportunity to buy tacky, overpriced tee shirts at tourist-trap markets with slogans on them that were funny because they didn’t quite make sense in English. I hadn’t learned enough about the history of Versailles or studied in-depth the works of Jacques Louis David until I was studying fine art in university. I wasn’t equipped with the knowledge to appreciate the layers of blood and passion that were swirling about Europe at the time, the rumbles of revolution that started with the pounding of uproarious peasants’ feet that shook the cobblestone streets and vibrated through the paintbrush of masters like Goya. These artists were able to distill the atmosphere of a nation into colours and lines and splash it on canvas. I wonder now if they are turning in their grave as thousands of tourists flock to snap up their masterpieces in canon point-and-shoot lenses some hundreds of years later and blissfully ignorant teenagers like I was who are more concerned with the promise of “real” gelato after we complete our tour of the art galleries gaze numbly at the walls. If I could go back – when I go back – I will feast on these works and save the gelato for another day.

I guess my biggest roadblock to traveling is financial. I went to art school and after switching programs a couple times, ended up on the university finish line (a 5-year long race for me) with a major in film production. Then I got my heart (and my video camera) broken by a dark, handsome and angry curly-haired director type with horn-rimmed glasses and since then have hung my filmmaker’s hat in a deep corner of my closet. I left the big city with my tail between my legs and have been nesting in Kelowna ever since, somewhere close enough to my hometown of Penticton but far enough to still feel like I’ve staked out my independence, and have built quite a network of friends in the yoga community and beyond. I’ve worked several different jobs that have paid the bills but left my creative bank dry. And I’m by no means thriving – a lot of my energy is swallowed up in transferring funds from one credit card to the other and asking for extensions on interest relief periods for my grandiose student debt (film school is NOT cheap!) So I feel like I’m stuck on a treadmill, not motivated or confident enough to find work in the film industry, which is virtually impossible to find even if I WAS motivated, seeing as the lackluster economy isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to relinquish funds into the arts, yet bored and frustrated enough to want more. But more what? I struggle to pinpoint where to steer my life like trying to utter a word that dances on the tip of my tongue or remembering a dream upon wakening. Sometimes it flashes at me like lighting just long enough to marvel at it for a moment, and then I am hurled once again into the dark. More what? More…what?

“How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

~from Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

I had an experience in an intro to psychology class once where something in the lesson was unclear, and I could hear murmuring throughout the giant room full of over 150 students that proved I wasn’t the only one wondering. But shy little first-year me was too timid to raise a hand. Then someone called out from across the room the same question that was rattling about in my head. “Good question,” the prof congratulated. I felt a collective sigh of relief sweep through the crowd of fold-down chairs at the clarification that followed. “That could have been me that brought it up,” I thought, “but someone else did. If I wasn’t here it wouldn’t have made any difference.” And since then I have perceived the world as a tiny microcosm of that moment: if I don’t do a painting about heartbreak, someone else will. If I don’t teach a killer yoga class, someone else will. If I don’t get to be happy, someone else will. My existence is really rather meaningless.

But what if that guy that called out had thought the same thing?

I realize that I have been living a life of self-imposed limitations. I’ve condemned myself to a life of lack – a lack of money, lack of confidence, lack of worthiness. I have been thinking lately: what if I only had 6 months left to live? Would I waste my time working a job I don’t love, letting time drain away, shyly avoiding my responsibility to use the talents I’ve so graciously been given? Would I want to fade away without seeing the world, or even my own country? Maybe it’s my turn to be the guy that calls out. The one that has the confidence that she has something to say that needs to be heard. How sobering to suddenly realize that I am in possession of not only the map, but also the key, the sword, and the magic wand I need to create my life! I can make things happen if I desire them enough. I have to trust my intuition and believe in my irreplaceable gifts.

“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.”

~from “To Althea, from Prison” by Richard Lovelace

So, who wants to travel the world?


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