We left Western Maryland with a one-way ticket in hand to the tropics. What could go wrong? Well… a lot if you say something like “what could go wrong?” I’ve learned to never utter words like that when leaving on a trip to go anywhere. However I found myself breaking this unspoken rule and subsequently a pawn in the musical airplane game that the east coast plays when caught amidst a winter storm.
It took us four days in total to finally reach St. Croix (a trip that normally doesn’t take more than 10 hours by plane). I did say I wanted an adventure, I just didn’t realize it would start before reaching the island.
I actually don’t mind traveling and airports in general. I find them to be fascinating places (outside of the poor color scheme choices and bad decor). They act as crossroads for many of us – a place where a metaphorical life path decision becomes a physical reality. Or in my case maybe the physical diverted path became the metaphor that in a sense gave us a preview of what the lifestyle might be like moving to an island. This difficult travel itinerary was just breaking us in? Acclimatizing us for how life could be? Testing our flexibility?
We had plenty of time to ruminate on what this four day long process could mean for us. Thinking about the delay in this way made the time much easier to pass and less stressful. We had reflective conversations with each other and met a handful of kind, helpful and unique individuals, including a cosmic Bangladeshi cab driver, a wizard of all traveling tips and stories, and a financial analyst named “Blessing”. In each airport, hotel, and form of transportation we gained valuable perspectives all making up for the inconvenient snow, ice, delays, lost baggage, angry passengers and the general chaos that entails when thousands of people congregate all vying to reach different destinations.
In this time, I also began reading Ashley’s suggested text for the month Rebecca Solnit’s “A Field Guide to Getting Lost”. It seemed appropriate, as our travel itinerary map had been abandoned by day one. Solnit says there’s an “art of being at home in the unknown so that being in it’s midst isn’t a cause of panic or suffering” So I guess it takes a certain amount of practice to feel at home while being lost. I have been crafting this skill, my entire life and needed to be reminded of this sentiment at this precise moment.
It was perfect timing to remind myself that reaching the destination, as always, was not the important thing. The destination you are traveling to will not bring the sense of peace or the feeling of home that I seek. The only thing that could conjure that feeling would be my own reaction to my environment, (the people and actions around me) and my response to the unknown itself.
I have to agree with Solnit when she says that getting lost “seems like the beginning of finding your own way or finding another way” It’s a clean slate of how to make decisions coming from a new place in a whole new way. I am very happy that we have finally reached St. Croix, but am also aware that arriving is not the goal in the field guide to getting lost, its the wandering, connections made and lessons learned from accepting that sometimes we just don’t know where we are or exactly or where we are going.
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