Sitting in a little café in Nelson, British Columbia, I looked intently into my coffee as if the dark of my decaf Americano held an answer for me. Where will I settle? I was nine months into a 12-month road trip, living in my truck camper and traveling across North America exploring possible places to live and touring with my newly published book, Open Me. For the last 28 years New Zealand had been my home until a strong breeze blew me back to my roots in Canada just last year.
My life 12 months ago looked very different: going to the office, meeting clients, running workshops, managing a business, managing my calendar! My life now consisted of figuring out where I was going to sleep each night, what city, town or forest I was going to travel to next, who I would meet, and what I could offer to promote my book. Every day was a new canvas to paint.
It wasn’t easy to leave New Zealand. I loved my life there: my friends, my clients, my business, my house, my neighbors, the neighbor’s cat. But something was missing. I didn’t know exactly what was missing, and I didn’t feel it all the time, but when I did, I felt agitated as if I was supposed to be somewhere else or be doing something I wasn’t.
It wasn’t like the guilt I occasionally felt when I was taking time out to relax in the garden and thought I should be doing some work instead. This was different. When the agitation was there it occupied a bigger part inside me. It consumed my whole being, sometimes like a hollow emptiness eating me up.
It was like I wasn’t reaching for something, not like a goal or an achievement. It was more like this: if I imagined myself being a balloon, and as a balloon I had extended myself to a reasonable point. Then I could imagine that those moments of agitation could be caused by my sensing the outer edges of me as the balloon that longed to expand further — and weren’t.
But this bothersome feeling only happened from time to time so it wasn’t that much of a problem. I could ignore it, similar to having a stone in my shoe that only troubled me a little bit, not enough to make me stop and take my shoe off.
For the last 10 years, an attraction to move back to North America kept catching my attention, but I didn’t do anything about it. Then a series of things happened giving me a clear message to move. The message was so obvious that I couldn’t shake it, deny it, ignore it or pretend it was okay to not listen anymore. I could no longer walk with that stone in my shoe. My spirit was speaking to me.
I sold everything and moved.
For the first two months I mostly grieved the loss of the cocoon I had broken out of. As uncomfortable as it was, I let the feelings flow. I innately knew it was healthiest thing to do. I wrote. I cried. I walked. I went to yoga a lot. I knew that this moment too would pass, and it did.
Not once did I doubt the move. I knew I was on the right path. I was creating new paths. I kept letting go of the edges of my balloon that had held me comfortably, safely — and contained. A new strength was filling me.
Taking in a long, deep breath, I thoughtfully broke off a piece of bran muffin. Smelling that healthy wheat bran and honey aroma, I put it in my mouth. What if I don’t want to settle? Letting that thought sink in, I felt a spaciousness in my chest, not that that meant anything. It didn’t mean I was going to keep living like a gypsy, or that I would have ‘homes’ in more than one place. I was just conscious of not wanting to contain myself again, and maybe that wasn’t possible, but then maybe it was.
I looked out the window at my bike and smiled. Will I cycle along the lake front or go for a ride exploring or prepare for the book signing tomorrow? A feeling of freedom flowed through my veins as I breathed deeply into my lungs. My shoulders were relaxed and my body felt alive. I folded up my computer and trusted whatever choice I made would be just right — for this moment.