Traveling in a new city can be intimidating. Add to that traveling alone, in a new state, using unfamiliar public transportation, and you have a recipe for a pretty intense experience. I’m too stubborn, though, to let a little dark get in the way of what I want.
Some days I wish for that machine from ‘Back To The Future’ – the one where I could climb in and time travel backwards. In the movie, Marty McFly found himself thirty years back in 1955, smack in the middle of his parent’s romance.
Mainly, I’d travel back to beautiful places I’ve been in my life. I’d love the convenience of pushing a button and finding myself in a new location. If I felt like great adventures, I’d go to Nicaragua. For youthful abandon, I’d wake up in a hostel in Amsterdam. Missing my childhood pen pal? I’d go back to Yorkshire, England. Nostalgia for family who have passed on would send me back to Sherman Oaks, California. A yearning for academic stimulation would find me in Berkeley.
Today I want to jump in with Marty and travel back to the place where generations of my family have landed before me. I want to walk on the soft white sand towards the lone Cyprus. I want to climb over to Bird Rock and peek into the Whaler’s Cabin at Point Lobos. I want to climb Hawk Tower and stare into the Pacific, imagining Jeffer’s view from the early 1900s. I want to watch my babies bury themselves in the sand of the Bird Sanctuary Beach and giggle as they wiggle their toes free.
Then tomorrow I’ll be back in 2012, immersed in life as I know it today. I’ll be driving from mountain to mountain, cheering my children as they catapult down the ski run. I’ll be packing lunches and loading skis, grading papers and doing laundry, unloading groceries and washing dishes.
But just for today, could you open the door and let me have a moment just for me?
Sometimes we all are so caught up in how we want things to be. Who will win an election, who will find the right relationship, what college our kids will be accepted to, what treatment will be found for an illness, what job might open up for us. We face these all-important, and sometimes critical, issues in life. However, I wonder if perhaps we are all just trying a bit too hard to make it happen.
I will admit I am a cerebral person. I stay up in my head all the time. I like it there. I like to think, to ponder, to imagine what if. I have never been one to jump into huge risks, or vocalize my thoughts immediately as they come to mind. I keep them ‘up there’.
Interestingly, I also wear them on my sleeve. Emotional, shy, sensitive – all adjectives used to describe me my entire life. It’s hard to feel intensely and try to keep it inside. I’ve never been good at lying or keeping secrets. Mix that all together, and I often find myself missing opportunities, misunderstood, or thinking of what I ‘should have said’ 30 minutes after the occasion ended.
So in the last few years I have kind of surprised myself. Surprised my family and my colleagues, too. I’ve decided that I needed to let these feelings and thoughts out of my head and heart and put them in motion. Like a slow leak in a balloon, I let the control in my head move towards my center. Using my contemplative nature, instead of thinking it out I let it settle and sink in. I acted on intuition over intellect and to my great surprise, amazing things started to happen.
I found myself in the mountains of Nicaragua, along with my children and complete strangers, mucking in the dirt and rocks to build a school. I found myself teaching and coordinating a new program at my school to help kids and families find their confidence and success. I found myself on a zip line flying over the jungle to challenge my fear of heights. I found myself applying and earning a government grant to study global education, with plane tickets for Washington D.C. and Indonesia. I found myself writing, testing the voice that began to emerge and finding new writing friends to share and learn with. Now, I find myself writing for Yahoo, my thoughts and words about education and parenting shared with an unlimited audience.
None of these experiences would have happened if I remained locked inside my head. There are too many reasons I could create to explain them away. There are too many risks, too many challenges, too many other people who would be better suited. Except that, the universe is taking care of me.
My writing friend Brenda Moguez, who shares her head and heart with the universe on a regular basis, writes in her blog ‘Passionate Pursuits’, “just once, this singular time, I’d like a leg up, the map, the golden key, the spoonful of sugar, the ruby slippers, and one of the wishes Genie gave to Aladdin. It’s ballsy of me to ask, I know, but I have good reason. I looked at karma’s life ledgers and I am showing a substantial overpayment. The same auditors, who tally the votes for the Academy Awards, keep karma’s book, so the numbers are accurate. Trust me.”
I couldn’t agree more. Karma’s life ledgers do keep the tally marks next to our name. Santa Claus does know who has been naughty and who has been nice. Cinderella’s fairy godmother does turn a pumpkin into a carriage so she can meet her handsome prince. And the Blue Fairy does bring Pinocchio back to life after he proves his bravery, honesty and selflessness.
But all of those magical experiences would remain in the ledger book if not for one thing: the voice and actions that put them out into the universe to be answered. As the great philosopher Bill Cosby says, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”
Is this what holds so many of us back? It’s our lives; we have to want it to happen.
That, and a bit of fairy dust.
SMACK! My head crashes into the bar, back and forth, back and forth. Up and down, side to side. I am the ball in the pinball machine taking one hit after the next. No time to take in the scenery from the top. Eyes pressed shut, arms braced, my mind drifts back to the Lamaze exercises I learned in birthing class so long ago. Go to your happy place. This too shall pass. Only the strong survive.