Surfing the Year of the Travel

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A tidal wave of emotions wash over me as hot salty tears fall from my stinging eyes onto my newly browned skinned.  We wave goodbye to the folks we're leaving behind.  I'm profoundly heart sick to leave Nosara, it's people, and the retreat participants I've spent the last 7 days with.  A passenger van is carrying me across the bumpy gravel, unpaved, pot-hole laden roads out of Nosara toward the Liberia airport 2 and a half hours away.  Looking out the window watching the lush green trees, fields of skinny cows, scrawny chickens and simply constructed homes pass I realize I recognize the pain consuming my chest that's threatening to fill my whole body.  The pain rushes through my being like the powerful water falls we visited only a few days ago.  I remind myself of what one of my surf teachers Frank told me the night before "Nosara belongs to you too now".  

Entering Nosara felt like entering the ocean for the first time.  I slipped into this world away from my own and fell unexpectedly in love.  It's half way through "The year of the travel" and I've found myself unprepared for the task I assigned of visiting a different place each month.  These short bursts of travel each month feel like emotional one night stands because on the vast majority of these trips I've fallen head over feet for the people and the places I've chosen to immerse myself in only to have to physically rip myself from them days later. Truth be told each trip feels like I'm barely treading water in strong currents of not only pure joy but deep emptiness too.  The year of the travel began with an intention for adventure but also present are parallel currents of freedom and ankle leashes of a different sort that are beginning to take hold.  

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Our retreat leader this week my friend, and mentor Maia taught us that the surface condition of the ocean is always a reflection of what's beneath or above.  On the surface of my new life it appears to be the perfect condition for surfing but the waves of my new life are not always smooth.  I'm learning what a paradox it is to live fully.  Getting rid of one big thing that doesn't work or that's excruciatingly painful will not create a perfect life, it will not eliminate suffering but it is giving me a more suitable surf board.  A powerful storm brewed within me the previous 11 and a half years working in a profession that wasn't the right fit for me long term.  Even though I was unaware of what was happening at the time those storms created the conditions for me to surf my life on my own terms this year and I imagine for many more years to come. For that I'm deeply grateful.  

Coming into the ocean to surf or leaving the ocean to rest I know I must encounter the impact zone.  The impact zone is the place between the white waves (a little easier to surf) and the green waves (the bigger waves that are fun and often scary to ride).  The impact zone feels just like it sounds and there I find myself overcome with crashing waves and swallowing a good deal of salt water.  At times this week I entered or exited the impact zone gracefully almost without understanding that I was passing through.  Then there were times I got tossed around like a rag doll feeling like I just stepped out of a fist fight.  Transitions between the places I'm visiting in the year of the travel are starting to feel like I'm passing into and out of the impact zone.  Each trip is an opportunity to navigate the choppy waters and learn when it's best to turtle roll or dog dive.  Leaving Nosara today felt like an ungraceful trip out of the impact zone leaving bruises on my heart and soul.  

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In the year of the travel my home is like the shore, the beach, a place to look into the life giving and life taking ocean and reflect on the embodied experience of surfing or traveling.  In transitions from home to a new place, and then home again I stop to breathe and reflect.  Home is where I can catch my breath and observe the sunset of experiences that unfolded over a trip.  Home, I sit in the sand and examine the often vibrant colors as the sun drifts out of sight stamping an indescribable feeling into my being.  

Maia reminded us that like in love as with surfing we must use our senses to experience what is actually there, not what we want to be there, or think is there, but what we can actually experience with our senses.  In the year of the travel what is actually present, what I can feel with my senses is a lesson that in loving people, in loving places or in loving life I know I'll get hurt but in order to surf, or in order to live fully I must love no matter how beat up I get in the impact zone.  For now I'm back on the shore watching the sunset catching my breath and resting.  In 22 days I'll re-enter the the ocean I'm surfing for a trip to India, I'll try to relax before hitting it's impact zone in hopes of riding a big green wave through India's lessons.   

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