In early January of 2013, I booked my trip to volunteer in Peru. I remember in the space between January and April, when I left, exploring so much: doing research about this unknown place, learning about where I was headed, looking at pictures and wondering about the journey ahead, spending hours at work oscillating between thoughts of, 'am I really going to give up the socially acceptable career and financial security I've sort of been told I need to have, and head off somewhere new- with no plans for when I get back?' and, 'hell yes, this is happening.'
As the universe would have it, I'm now making plans to travel again this coming April (funny little coincidence...) and I notice some inner differences in how I anticipate journeys now versus two short years ago.
I'll be heading to the rainforest in Washington State- a different adventure (I won't be alone, I won't be abroad, it won't be for as long, I won't need to learn a new language), and maybe more profoundly, a different departure point: I am different now than I was before I went to Peru.
It's hard to describe, but I am more fully participating in my life now than I was when I was 25. I am who I am; how obvious that seems, but how profound it feels and is. I am living what feels like the life I was designed to live. So vacations are not getaways that I look forward to because daily life isn't very exciting, or because I hold something like that view anywhere in my psyche. Daily life is exciting: I appreciate it, I go slowly and observantly through it, I cherish and inspect it and am creatively at play in my world. It's a real, authentic, joy-filled thing.
I have learned that only when the here-and-now is fully sublime, is anywhere fully sublime, and that's an important distinction: we always think it's going to be some grand adventure or some beautiful place; maybe some new person, or some new experience, that we see or have that really makes life totally and ultimately beautiful, or purposeful, or 'worth living,' but it's not that- it's always the perspective we carry within us.
And I have done the work (really, the most terrifying but rewarding journey of my life thus far), since returning from Peru, of internalizing a perspective, a view of the world, which simply reveals to me just that beauty. All the time.
Daily life, now that I have (through no quick or easy process, as I've chronicled often on this blog) a reason to live it, is actually just as sublime as any adventure. Of course I'm excited to travel, and of course seeing new things (especially in nature) wows me and excites me. But seeing the vision of beauty in everything, all the time, has a lot to do with the acceptance of Love in my life.
"The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love, and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed."
This concept had seemed so vague and over-romanticized to me before, but it is as real and palpable and brilliantly true as anything. The world is transformed when we live in Love. Adventures are not just temporary breaks from the monotony of life which is otherwise boring. I'm excited to travel, but I'm also excited to live. I'm excited to paint, I'm excited to go to work with people I enjoy being around, I'm excited to come home and write and practice hobbies, I'm excited to share stories and life and joy and happiness with people. If these simple availabilities are not enough, nothing more will be.
And this is because within myself, I have discovered a fundamental lightness, which I could only call Love. As long as you have this thing within yourself, then nothing outside yourself can be bad. When Love is your primary pursuit and want out of life, then you are free to live.
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. There is no fear in love- but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." -John 4:16-18
A lot of fearlessness can come of a life- no matter how old or young, happy or sad, wounded or healed- that is willingly and actively devoted to Love. And without fear, anything is possible.
To have learned this through both the adventure of travel and the stillness of living has made me equally fond of both.