It's been a little over a week since I've been home. Being with my partner for nearly seven years now, it's unsurprising to him when I travel and come home experiencing pure bliss as I recount my memories, only to be followed by a deep depression where I want want nothing more than to leave. (I've read it's called emotional jetlag!) To cope this time, we strapped on our running shoes and went for a jog on the beach, followed by yoga and deep breathing underneath the coral trees along the bluff within a mile of our tiny home. And suddenly, I'm back to normal, filled with gratitude for what it is I'm able to come home to.
But it never stays for long.
As I return to my emails followed by distractions of social media and comparison of my life with others, it's easy to fall into a pit of despair again. Everyone my age looks like they know what they're doing, and I start to feel guilty or inadequate being on this path of exploration as I am approaching my thirties. My shadows tell me to "grow up" and to find a normal job like others, or go back to school and get another credential. I can only imagine people are thinking I have it completely together as they see my travel photos from overseas or the smiling pictures with my partner and I, without recognizing that even inside I am struggling for inner peace.
I recently approached an elder man painting a pond at a local nature center, and told him how much I missed feeling my own fingers brush against the canvas. He asked why I stopped, and I told him that I'm trying this thing called "adulting". He laughed, and it should be the opposite; we must learn to be children again.
Since I've returned to Long Beach, my car was anonymously tagged up by a neighborhood youth, and I've had unhealthy encounters with adult strangers who seem detached from their emotions and surroundings. I know it's not their fault; it's a ripple effect of what others are experiencing. Many children are being forced to grow up quickly, and innocence is lost to what they think it means to be a grown-up. Violence is an epidemic in the United States, and spreads like a virus when people, especially young men of color, are not given the proper tools on how to cope. It's easy to get sucked back into this drift, to take on others' emotions and suffering as my own or to be easily triggered by the anger and depression evidently around me. And it's going to take a lot of inner work to break free from that pattern to emit and attract the frequencies I desire: one filled with joy, love, and liberation to counter all of it.
To feed my need for adventure and travel, my partner and I went to visit the superbloom in Diamond Valley Lake, CA this past weekend. While this video only shows him exploring amongst a sea of wildflowers, it doesn't capture the hoards of people competing for the perfect picture or the man with the megaphone blaring out "Keep off the grass!" that took away from us being able to fully immerse ourselves in this experience. It was beautiful nonetheless, but the two hour drive to get there made me reflect on the rising blossoms we passed by growing underneath the telephone lines along the riverbank that no one cared to stop for as we entered the freeway to leave Long Beach.
How can I appreciate the beauty around me without having to seek outward to find it? I am learning to embrace the dandelions many call weeds in my own front yard without having to find the wildflowers blooming on the other side of the concrete.
I received news that I was accepted to a Vipassana ten day silent meditation retreat in Joshua Tree, and will be leaving today to befriend my Monkey Mind. Aside from travel, exercising has been my coping mechanism for my anxiety. However, it can also easily be a form of escapism if I am still not able to be at peace with my thoughts. We will be restricted from any form of communication, journaling, reading, music, and yes - exercising, including yoga! Those who haven't attended share with me how lucky I am and how relaxing that sounds, though you will hear the polar opposite from past participants. My monkey mind loves to overrule my authentic self, as the chitter chatter shows up in the tapping of my feet or the trembling of my fingers to tells me I need to move or be constantly busy or to check my phone, especially since being back in the US. Stillness has always been uncomfortable for me, as even I've conditioned myself to believe it equates to laziness or that I'm not doing enough.
I am releasing the need to control my life's trajectory, since I am recognizing how much desire has caused so much suffering within me. While the world moves so quickly around me, my body tells me to slow down and embrace every sensation I've become so good at avoiding. Happiness is not what we perceive of it to be, and my journey is in search of that deeper truth of joy beyond fleeting moments of filtered images that light up our screens.
"Talk" to you in ten days!