Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are you Excited? Frantic? Scared? (The One We Feed)

"Are you excited?"  That's what many of my friends ask me when I mention we will be leaving to travel the world in less than two weeks.

Also:  "Are you frantic?"

And:  "Are you scared?"

For the most part, my answer to all three is "No."  Here's why:


Actually, the answer is "yes and no."  I think this is because I'm seeing every bit of life as part of the journey.  So I'm not waiting for the journey to start.  I'm experiencing it now.  And when we step on the plane June 2 to fly to Australia, I think it will feel less like being shot out of a cannon and more like turning a page.

There are so many things to be excited about right now:

Bon Voyage Mode

I'm excited about all the get-togethers with friends. Many of these were planned prior to our decision to travel, so they have serendipitously turned into bon voyages.  And I find myself cherishing this time with friends since who knows when we'll meet again?  Knowing we are leaving adds an extra sweetness.  But of course, even if we're not leaving, we never know what the future holds.  So perhaps the trick is to always be in bon voyage mode!

Dave's surprise birthday party in bon voyage mode

Gifting Mode

I'm also cherishing gifting stuff to friends and strangers.  Yesterday, when Dave and I went to the home of friends for dinner, we brought them our fireplace accoutrements and a set of china I knew I'd never use.  These friends have just bought a new home (with three fireplaces!) and are very much in the nesting mode.  We knew these items belonged in their house.  It was lovely to see them happy about the gifts and to know pieces of us will be incorporated into their lives.

One of my friends posted on Facebook that he wanted camping equipment.  Dave said, "How about I give him mine?  I won't be using it."  So the other day, the friend came over to collect the tent, backpack, and various other equipment.  He stayed for a beer, and we had a rich and fun conversation.  Probably the most amazing conversation we've ever had. 

I've been giving books to friends I think would like them.  And recently I posted on Facebook, To keep or toss my yearbooks, that is the question?  And two high school classmates mentioned they lost their yearbooks, so I am going to mail a couple to each of them.

I'm learning that gifting stuff in a meaningful way is a powerful human connector.  This is part of the journey that, yes, I'm excited about.

Relishing-the-Page-I'm-On Mode

I've also been relishing my last days of teaching, including bringing a bottle of champagne to my final creative writing meeting, and hanging out in my office during finals week so students could come by with their papers and to say goodbye.  One student brought me flowers, and several brought me heart-felt cards.  It was so gratifying to see that many of them were inspired to write and live more richly as a result of my class.

There's nothing like champagne to make a meeting fun!  (I guess we all got a little blurry...)

As I posted on Facebook, here's how I felt the last day of class:

Yes I cried in the last class today, my last after all these years at SJSU. Yes my students gave an amazing poetry reading where we all laughed and cried and applauded. Yes I read a piece inspired by that very class. Yes we all group hugged. Yes it was more amazing than I ever dreamed it would be. Yes, my heart keeps expanding beyond dimensions I ever dreamed possible. Yes, I say yes to life.


Dave and I decided we were going to focus on our physical, mental and spiritual health during this time.  So we've been eating well, doing yoga, meditating, and getting a lot of sleep and fresh air.  Oh, and laughing a lot!

I believe this is why all of our preparations have been like buttah.  We take care of details when we are inspired to do so:  some packing, throwing something in the car to give to a friend, putting something on Craig's list to give away, confirming a flight, making a lodging reservation, communicating with a friend we're staying with.  And if things ever start to feel hard or jagged, we stop and come back to it later.  I have a list with some items to take care of--and when I look at it, I'm pleasantly surprised that I can strike off a few things.

Every once in a while, certain thoughts creep up on me like, Oh my god I'm going to forget something crucial!  Or Holy crap, what the hell are we in for?  Then I employ my best version of a yogi and watch that thought swim by.  I recently read that if you don't repress or act-out on a thought, it will dissipate within 90 seconds.  Ah, such freedom from my monkey mind!
Two tigers


If a fearful thought enters my mind, my mantra is this:  I can freak out, or get curious.  Example:

Fearful thought:  Oh my god, we are going to be without a home!

Freak Out:  You'll feel lonely and lost! You're living too much on the edge! If you keep this up, you'll be homeless not by choice but for real some day!

Get Curious:  I wonder what new thing is around the corner?  I wonder what amazing people we will meet?  I wonder how we'll grow?  I wonder what new ideas of "home" we will foster and explore?

This reminds me of the the old Indian tale, in which a grandfather tells his grandchild:

"You have two tigers inside you.  One is love and compassion.  The other is fear and anger."

The grandchild asks, "Which one will win?"

He answers:  "The one we feed."

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