I’ve managed to ride through the swells of life with beautiful carving. I’ve fallen into the ocean, the depths of the unconscious, and nearly drowned, more times than I can count. I’ve done it all in silence. I’ve turned ruins into cities. I’ve transmuted pain into fuel and alchemized sorrow into power. I’ve sat with trauma, have sailed through chaos, and have surfed through life toppled by currents of despair. I’ve done it all in silence. With a near unbearable flexibility: The way of the snake.
On Sundays, regardless of where in the world I may find myself, I’m often overcome by a wave of gratitude and deep reflection. Through vagabonding and wandering, I’ve met many likely souls. I can see it in their eyes – the mountains they’ve conquered, the depths they’ve dived, the storms they’ve stopped with their own bare hands. They always carry a beautiful sheen in the eyes with a dash of unspeakable sadness. Their souls carry a reverent silence, though often they’re vibrant, lively, and penetrating. Travel has been the greatest tool to my awakening – awakening to my surroundings, to the magic that resides on our very soil, to our interconnectedness, our need for interdependence, our collective agony, the truth that’s found between the lines of the veil, a vehicle to the realization of my own humanity. Travel has and continues to provide me with a view of the bigger picture. It has shown me a deeper truth of the human experience – from our capacity to birth seemingly impossible beauty to our desire to destroy the beauty we worked so diligently to birth. And everything in-between.
There are days when I walk down memory lane and return to the once eager 15-year-old girl whom held a piece of paper on her hands with words that would change the course of her life. That piece of paper was a portal into a world of magic – little did she know. That piece of paper was a ticket into a world of infinite possibility, the world of science. She started working in a research lab thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF), which led her to get into medical school at the age of 17, which then led her to her people, and eventually to travel – lots of travel.Regardless of the shiny surface, in the 12 years that have transpired since, she has been to the depths of the underworld and back. All in silence.
Silence: her faithful companion, her constant guide.
Contrast. Dissonance, change, and entropy find their way to inject their presence into my reality. I suddenly find myself peeking at the world through the looking-glass: Unspeakable joy cohabits with gut-wrenching despair. Ancient city ruins become adorned by modern metropolis backdrops. Conquered peaks are accompanied by all consuming loss. The double helix always unravels to replicate life. Meteoroids fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn; We call them shooting stars. A beautiful bird, spontaneously combusts – burning itself to ashes to rise again anew. In summation, the paradox of the human experience.
I move the glass aside and come across a sign. Adorned by neon pink lighting, the bold lettering reads – “Welcome to Reality: Where Truth becomes truths.”
“In the fields, she stopped and took a deep breath of the flower-scented air. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. And for a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on this earth to absorb its wild enchantment.” Boris Pasternak
It’s been quite some time since I’ve been inspired to write on this cyber space. Most of my writing has occurred in small journals, in airport napkins, in heaps of receipts, in the notes section of my calendar. The past few months have been intensely packed with training for my new position, adapting to a non-office based lifestyle, and travel. Most recently, I’ve been galavanting the streets of Panama – a lovely Latin American gem.
The past few months have also been packed with a lot of growth and knowledge. For example, I prefer to travel on my own; and don’t you dare give me an ultimatum! My personal freedom seems to be my top priority these days. I’ve reached a peak of detachment, where everything is just passing by and I am simply passing through. I’m finally learning and understanding what these woo-woo mystical words mean: on topics such as manifestation, creation of your reality, and creating major change by simply creating small changes to the way you react to pretty much anything. I’m using psychology to ground these beliefs and give them substance. Now a days, I’m really starting to believe that I’m here on this Earth to simply have a human experience – there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Then, there are thoughts of you. Faint memories of you occasionally seep themselves into my conscious state. After we parted ways, I adopted an unconscious belief that romance was an illusion that didn’t belong in my reality. I’ve experienced lots of attraction, but I can’t remember the last time that I had a crush. I can’t remember the last time someone made me giggle and feel giddy and full of butterflies. There’s no space in my life for anything other than casual encounters. I think that when you left, you took all the romanticism that resided within me and now I’m empty. Yet, it’s a beautiful emptiness – one that I welcome. A voidness that I’ve honored and that life has filled with adventure and travel – with new friends and countless stories. After Panama City, there’s Boston, then there’s Austin. Texas always still reminds me of you. How’s the post-Navy life? Did you follow those other dreams you spoke of? The only memories that remain of you are feeble ones and they’re no longer accompanied with emotion.
I’m currently trying to figure out what city I’d like to get open dive certified in: Should I choose Barcelona (though the water is bound to be quite cold later in the year) or should I go with Conzumel (and ring in the new year with watery depth style)? I will decide within the month, but only time will tell. In the mean time, I’ll dedicate myself to lots of swim practice – reconnecting with my Pisces moon.
Just wanted to write in this space with some minor updates. So much has changed since December that it’s sort of unreal. How does life do that? How does it change so quickly? So swiftly? Until next time xoxo.
Deeply grateful for: Katie Pelkey – Meeting you was life-changing.
The death card. In tarot the death card is representative of transition (it is not often that it represents literal death). Rather it stands as a symbol of transformation – from one form of something into another. After all, death is the ultimate form of transformation. In a matter of days, I will be closing a chapter of my life which contains the past eleven years. From 2006 to the present. Prior to putting the finishing touches into this reflection, I coincidentally came across my first mentor – Dr. Sam, the cancer researcher from Cameroon. At times it seems as much as changed, at others it appears as if all has stayed the same. For the past few weeks, I’ve been deeply reflecting on my worth and value as a human being. What is my worth? What does it mean to be of value? Do I have either?
During these past few weeks, I’ve been able to catch a daily sunrise and sunset due to an inability to sleep. Food is interesting only sometimes. Running is the companion that keeps me grounded. I guess my yoga practice does too. Meditation allows me to function from day to day. I’ve cried on a daily basis. It’s almost as if I’m purging everything I’ve been unwilling to let go of for the past decade in time to begin writing this new chapter. My heart and soul ache. The destroyer in me wants to seal this chapter shut, weave the pages together, and then burn whatever “garbage” I created. Yet the artist in me thinks and wants differently. The artist in me wants me to go find the most expensive of inks, the most beautiful pages, and a magical garden space. It wants me to work on making the last few sentences of this chapter the most beautiful yet. It wants me to take whatever residual pain is resurfacing and turn it into magnificent art. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
Worth and value.
worth: the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.
value: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
I’ve spent the past decade plus trying to obtain some external ideal – in almost every aspect of my life. And I suppose hard work does pay off because I landed my dream job, which I’m deeply grateful for and excited about! However, as I move into this new space and I reflect on how I truly feel inside versus how my life looks like on the outside, I am met with cognitive dissonance and sadness. I could write about everything that has occurred in these past eleven years, but the events don’t seem to be fruitful to share as much as my response to these events. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that my life looks good, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. I’ve been reading about astrology lately, for nothing more than curiosity (and to inform a writing piece I’m working on), and I found it rather interesting that the top recommended career for someone like me, with an ascendant in Cancer and a moon in Pisces is an actor/actress – the ultimate empath, a master of mystery, compassion, depth, and disguise. The fluidity in this combination quite literally allow me to take on whatever character I desire. Shape shifter. Rather than trying to run away from the discomfort of the sensations that run through me, I stand before my soul with eyes of fire wanting to see nothing, but the truth. Whenever, I feel worthless or like I have nothing to offer this world, I allow myself to feel as such. Typically I enter a self-dialogue where I allow all of my fears to be manifested in front of me (it’s a really cool exercise).
What if you are worthless? Perhaps you are, but you’re still alive and breathing unable to escape the grips of time.
What if you have no value? Perhaps this is true as well, but why do you need to be of value?
What if you’re ugly? You are. What if you’re not intelligent? You’re not. What if you’re not good enough? You’re not. What if you’re not soft enough? You’re not. What if you’re too cold and harsh? You are. What if you are too intense? You are grossly intense. What if you’re a slut? You are. What if you’re incapable of building anything worthwhile in this world? You’re utterly incapable.
These iterations continue until I inevitably arrive at this question: What if you simply allow yourself to be?
I’ve struggled with this question for as long as I can remember. I’ve excelled at becoming a human doing, but how do I allow myself to become a human being?
As I stay present with this dialogue, time and time again I come to the same realization: I still have the greatest gift of them all – life force flows through my body. Which then leads me to an entirely different realm of thought: transience and the fragility of life. My favorite film series is a trilogy directed by Richard Linklater known as the Before series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight). The series was inspired by a real-life encounter where the director spent a day with a woman in Philadelphia only to later find out she had died in a motorcycle accident. Often, when I am with family or friends this story crosses my mind. The last time I kissed mami goodbye may very well be my last. The last movie I saw with my sister might have been it. The last time I got a text from him, a call from her, or a FaceTime session with them may be all I ever get on this earthly plane. Now is all we have and while it’s intelligent to dream and plan for tomorrow, it’s wise to stay grounded in today. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have to roam and wander around this globe, but I sure know one thing: I’m going to make it count. With a Midheaven in Aries, the inner warrior princess in me is determined to thrive or else! Here’s to 2018. One day at a time. One breath at a time.
P.S. I didn’t sleep during my last night in Honolulu. Though I had to catch a million flights to get to Puerto Rico, I decided to roam around the island in my rental car instead. At around 5AM, I made my way to Waikiki to catch the sunrise. As I parked my car, this song came on – Sunset Lover. I remember that tears strolled down my cheek as I witnessed a ravishing Pacific sunrise. The sun must have been setting somewhere…
I’ve decided this new chapter I’m writing will be called Symphony.
“Distractions are to be avoided. A goal can be attained. Introspection and contemplation are required. The need for independence and self-awareness. One who may provide guidance or aid.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot
“Thank you so much, Nico.” Selene said as she hugged Nico goodbye and headed towards the entry of Charles de Gaulle airport. “It was my pleasure. Don’t forget about me. Visit soon.” Selene nodded and walked away to be greeted by automatic parting doors. As soon as she was inside the airport, she felt the sensation of electricity possess her body. There was something so magical about these portals that allowed humans to get from one place to another with the use of what you could call a mechanical bird. At the security checkpoint, she showed her the clerk her passport as well as the boarding pass on her phone. She walked down a hallway and made her way to the gate heading towards Dubai. Prior to arriving to Colombo, there was a layover in Dubai.
Selene looked around, took a deep breath, and had opened up her laptop. Quite some time had passed since she had felt the inspiration to share her journey with the cyber world. Selene was the writer of a blog and would often update her readers with photographs and stories from her travels. Though she mainly used the platform to share poetry about heartache and triumph, the paradox of the human experience, and controversial topics, at times she would show her readers the places and spaces that had inspired the pieces in the first place. However, while in Nice, something had shifted. Selene found herself being very selective, which what she was willing to share. Furthermore, her relationship to travel had begun to take a different form.
Words had always been Selene’s favorite healing potions. When she wrote, she felt as if she could alchemize all the internal confusion within into something easier to make space for. Words allowed her to contain the intensity of her emotions. They allowed her to experience emotions without becoming them. Though there were times, when she recognized that allowing oneself to fully feel was the best medicine. To feel without words. To feel without containment. To become so submerged in the emotion that there was no like of demarcation between what it was and whom she was. While those moments of complete absorption were cathartic, Selene knew that she had to conserve her energy for what lay ahead. It was one of those moments where she had to tame her feelings with words.
“I’m currently sitting at Charles de Gaulle airport headed towards Dubai. Tomorrow, I’ll be arriving in Colombo to spend an indeterminate amount of time. I just spent the last three weeks in France. Mostly in Nice with the last day and a half in Paris. As you may have noticed, I have been largely disconnected. This is because I have been reflecting on what travel means to me. As a result, I have also been interrogating myself in order to determine the direction in which I want my life to head towards. For the past few years, I have survived off of running and blog and writing feature articles for online and paper publications. From having the opportunity to do such remote work, I have been gifted with the flexibility travel widely. While in Nice, I met a cast of colorful characters, that I can say with certainty have changed the course of my life – Giuseppe, Ms. Laguerre, Tristán, and the Flaurberts. These individuals have inspired me to live with more depth, with more truth, and with more authenticity. All of these human beings have traveled the world, yet in the present moment they lead what you would call a more ‘settled life’. None of them are nomads. At the core of all which they shared it appeared as if what was truly important to these people was the quality and strength of their relationships. Every single one of them has endured soul-shattering heart break. Yet every single one of them appreciates life in a manner that is near indescribable. While I have enjoyed (and continue to do so) writing on this platform as well as all the monthly publications I’m allowed to contribute to, there is a part of me that knows that there is something more. There’s a part of me that recognizes that I have more to give. A part that can only be shared once I explore it on my own. As it stands that part of me lies deep within uncovered in the shadows. Here’s to my favorite activity: exploration.”
“Mesdames et Messieurs, nous sommes prêts à embarquer.” A voice spoke over the speaker. It was time for Selene to say goodbye to Paris to head on to the next wonder space. As she made her way to her seat, she thought of all the moments she shared with others while in Nice. Ah – a window seat. Selene settled in a observed the workers on the tarmac communicate with each other. In her gut, butterflies increasingly took flight as the scene was familiar to her mind – it was time for takeoff. As the plane sped on the runway, Selene’s heart began to race. This was the sensation that she lived for – what she continuously craved. Once the aircraft had lifted off the ground, she waved the Parisian landscape goodbye through her peephole window. Twenty minutes later, Selene was soundly asleep.
In Selene’s dreamworld appeared a dark scene, unveiled. The canvas of the scene was painted a dark, midnight blue decorated with textured orbs. In addition to the orbs, there was the planet Saturn, a diamond, and a lamp. In the center of scene there was a triangle partly overshadowed by a rectangle. The inside of the triangle base was painted black. At the center, there knelt a woman holding a child – highlighted by subtle pink hues and a yellow undertone. From the upper part of the triangle, right where the triangle and the rectangle met, there was a hand holding an oil lamp. The top of triangle was decorated by a rectangle. The background of the rectangle was that of a blue sky with wispy clouds. In the lower portion of the rectangle, right above the mother and child, there was a circular kaleidoscope containing smaller versions of itself with varying visuals. From the circle, protruded a black, plastic arm holding a head which bore an indifferent expression. The face of the head was decorated with chalk and carried a small lamp in the center of its head. Suddenly, Selene awakened as her body recalled the sensations of landing. In a little under seven hours, they had made their way to Dubai International Airport.
“I like it here. It has a semblance of home.” Selen expressed as she took a bite of a Pistachio and English muffin. It was the last day prior to Selene departing for Sri Lanka and a Parisian world of wonder lay before her. They both had awaked early in the morning and had made their way to Rue Jean Pierre Rimbaud to The Hood, a neighborhood café. “It’s one of my favorites.” Nico responded. The space was a self-described coffee shop for music lovers. From the outside, it was lined with long glass panels reminding Selene of Giuseppe’s book shop.Upon entering, a tile adorned counter appeared. Beyond the counter, a staircase led to a second level. Tables with varying chairs and stools decorated the stone floor. The walls were mostly white, though at times interrupted by the presence of a green-pink wall paper. The wall paper reminded Selene of one of Mr. Flaubert’s paintings. It was called The Empress. The painting was laden with vivid colors. At its deepest layer, the background was colored a bright yellow on the top half and a grass green on the bottom half; representing a sun-lit heaven backdrop and the earth. On the top upper left-hand corner, a giant fuchsia flower petal grazed the bright background. Gravity didn’t exist in the world the painting portrayed. There were orbs – dark and light, material and energetic aimlessly wandering on the canvas. Some of the floating objects stood out: a conch, a colored scarf, and a star fish. To the center right of the canvas appeared a floating woman. She was floating through the air, head down. Her skin was a turquoise hue, one of her breasts were exposed, and she had additional appendages protruding from her body. From her head, curly, sponge-textured fiery orange locks of hair expanded onto the heavens.
They paid the check and began to aimlessly walk. For the remainder of the day, Selene and Nico strolled by the eiffel tower, the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and other well-known Parisian sites. As the sun began to set and the night began to approach, they decided to head to the Latin Quarter to dance the night away. She fell in love with the way the city made her feel. The next morning, Selene was set to fly to Sri Lanka.
“Love and commitment. A bond formed. Establishing a new partnership or joint project. Forgiveness for a past slight. Avoid isolation. Look for connections. Mutual assistance. Attraction of opposites.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot
After dropping all of Selene’s belongings at the apartment, Nico returned the car at the rental car agency. Then Selene and Nico walked to the apartment on Rue deMénilmontant.Prior to heading to Nico’s apartment, they stopped at a bar to grab a quick bite to eat and perhaps a drink. As soon as they walked in, Nico noticed that Selene’s energy levels weren’t quite as high as usual and proposed they head back. Though well past the evening time, Selene loved the coffee shops, the art studios, and the restaurants that were available just outside the door. Nico lived in a small apartment, which he shared with a classmate. From the outside the building was a beige color lined with Juliette balconies. The very first level was occupied by a bridal shower and a store that provided electrician services. The nicotine-smelling, stained, carpeted staircase up to Nico’s apartment, reminded Selene of her flat in Nice. “Welcome. My roommate is currently out of town. I know you’re tired so I think it’s best if we stay in tonight so we can take full advantage of the day tomorrow. Would you like a glass of wine? Tea? Water?” Selene responded, “I’d love some peppermint tea, if you have it.”
They walked into the small kitchen, where Nico began to prepare a kettle. “You know, I really appreciate that we’ve been friends for quite a while. On days when I’m exhausted is almost as if you feel it. While I love my life on the road, moments like these make me appreciate all of you that much more – there’s a beautiful sense of security and understanding from bonds as long as the one we’ve shared. They also serve as proof that though we continue to evolve and change, in many ways we remain the same. I find that oddly comforting. That though I’m no longer a grad student riddled by night full of stress and little sleep, when I’m sleepy I become a bit withdrawn and those closest to me can instantly tell.” Nico walked over towards Selene and hugged her. “I love that although you’re no longer a grad student slaving your life away in New York, that you’re still keenly observant. You’re sharper than ever. I think that path the that you’ve chosen for yourself not only suits you, but it’s quite courageous. Out of all of my friends, I particularly enjoy that we can laugh over silly matters, drink our sorrows away, make fools of ourselves, but also have the capacity to have deep intellectual and spiritual conversations.”
“Nico, I’ve missed you. I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to spend more time with you while in Nice. My body had been calling my attention and in true Selene nature, I just kept going, going, going until I get sick. If there’s anything that I learned this time around, it’s that I need to learn to take better of myself. Being on the road alone, decreases your immune system’s ability to fight anything off – including a simple cold! My body’s teaching me so much as I continue to travel. Well, I won’t keep ranting on. I’ll save the rest of my thoughts for tomorrow. It’s time for me to sleep. Good night, Nico.”
That night Selene had a dream of a wolf and a dog. Though having different habitats and overall lifestyles, both belong to the same species. In the dream, they appeared to be close – protective of each other. The dog had blue eyes and the wolf had yellow eyes. They stood upon a wet surface with a pink-green background staring at the dreamscape viewer: Selene.
Selene’s last day in Nice arrived like a soft feather gently falling from the sky of a birdless region – soft and unexpected. That morning she grabbed her carry-on, her satchel, and water bottle and bid adieu to her Nicean flat. After whispering words of good riddance for the next flat inhibitor, Selene went down the stairs to be greeted by an early morning and a familiar face. Waiting outside was Nico. They were going to road trip together back to Paris, where Selene would spend the evening and a day to then take-off to Sri Lanka. But prior to the embarkment on her new adventure, Giuseppe had invited Selene over for a pre-departure breakfast.
Nico drove them both to Giuseppe’s beautiful majestic home. Selene was glad that the majestic view would be the last place she would be on Nice prior to take-off. Upon arriving, she felt the sensations of caress from the early morning breeze. Warmly, Giuseppe opened his front door and welcomed Selene and Nico. To her surprise, Tristán and Ms. Laguerre had joined in on the celebration. “Selene, I want to thank you for rekindling my passion for life.” Giuseppe remarked. “Your presence was a gentle nudge from the universe reminding me to never let that inner fire go damp. In life, we’ve all experienced heart shattering losses, illogical situations, and more pain and suffering than any of us ever care to share. Yet those experiences are even more reason to forge forward in life with an open heart saturated with passion.” As they ate, they reminisced on the memories they created during Selene’s short stay. “Selene, I will miss you dearly. It is my hope that you’ll return to Nice someday! You know where to find me. I want to hear of all the people you meet and continue to enchant while you make your way around this globe. Your curiosity and hunger for life on the road have inspired me to take a trip of my own. In all my years of travel, there was one place that seemed to be most elusive: Antartica. In the modern day, it seems much easier to reach. If Tristán here is willing, I’d love for him to accompany me on the voyage to the furthest land below.” With a startled expression, Tristán nodded. “Well, my dear. I know that time is of the essence. Nico, it was a pleasure to meet you. If you’re ever near or around Nice or want company in one of the area cemetery’s, please let me know.” Selene grabbed a couple croissants, a pound of fresh strawberries, and some green grapes for the road. “Wait – before you leave. Let’s all do a toast.” Giuseppe rapidly made his way to his kitchen and returned with five wine glasses and a bottle of rosé. “Here’s to Selene. Here’s to Nico. Here’s to all of us. And most importantly, here’s to life on the road. May you travel. May you explore. May your interactions with this world make you feel alive.” They exchanged hugs. They said their goodbyes. Next destination: Paris.
Though tired from a night without sleep, Selene managed to stay awake as Nico drove through the South East of France heading North. The first part of the drive, they were surrounded by mountains and greenery. They first drove through Cannes, where Selene almost decided to change destination, but stood by her gut to continue on to Sri Lanka. On the road from Cannes towards Marseille, they were surrounded by open meadows, small towns, and the sonder of thousands. They continued driving from Avignon to Valence surrounded by Parc Naturel Régional de Luberon, Parc Naturel des Monts d’Ardèche, and Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors. At around four and a half hours in, they arrived at Lyon. Nico stopped the car overlooking a pleasant view and Selene awakened from a short nap. During her snooze, she had dreamt of a scene of a circus. She could see pulleys, unicycles, and bicycles floating in a gravity zapped space with a pastel-colored kaleidoscopic background. What was it all supposed to represent? She shook her legs, closed her eyes, and inhaled the crisp air. “We’re so close to Geneva. If you had more time here, I’d definitely say we go.” Nico stated. Selene nodded, “I will return.”After a coffee refuel, they were back on the road, halfway to Paris. As Nico continued to drive, the mountainous terrain began to decrease in occurrence. An hour into the drive towards the capital, Selene fell asleep only to be awakened by Nico prior to arrival into the city. “Selene! We’re arrived. Let’s get to my apartment to set down your belongings, grab a bite to eat, and decide what to do with what remains of the day.”