Tuesday, June 30, 2009

on the open road part III (or on sleeping on the couches of strangers)

I just walked back inside through the screen door of this brilliantly-Californian evening. I took a stroll down a lane lined with palm trees, took off my sunglasses and let the sun hit my face. I stepped foward. I gave myself a moment to inhale slowly, to look around, and fully realize how beautiful I have allowed my life become.

It is beautiful, isn't it?

The last few weeks have been a montage of amazing memories that all seem to flow into one lovely chapter of my life... a chapter I have no desire to put a conclusion to. So I won't. It can only continue. People dream of travel and far-off places, of Italy, Brasil, Morocco... and being one of those dreamers myself, I can understand. But I'm starting to realize the depth and beauty of what is not so far-off in the first place. Who knew so many amazing people were within this half of the U.S.? And ones that wanted to meet me? And that I want to meet too? Who knew I would feel like such a dramatically different and free woman after only three or four weeks on the road? Who knew that I would find friends and relationships that would change me, would challenge me, would move me and that would provide for me when life on the road got rough?

The deeper I delve into CouchSurfing, the more I find how much of a family we are, how connected we all are. The reason? Most people aren't okay with that type of openness, that type of trust and adventure. Most people get uncomfortable with newness or with accepting how safe something like this could be if you use it with caution and correctly. As a result? Most people on CouchSurfing are some of the most amazing and experienced that you will ever meet. All the ones that wouldn't fit are weeded out by default. Which is not to say there isn't diversity within the community. I have met mothers, fathers, elderly, the newly-graduated, the homeless, the rich, the well-travelled, the well-read, the uneducated, the wise... the list goes on. I have met atheists,Protestants, liberals, conservatives, introverts and extroverts. I have partied hearty with hosts and I have just as happily rested in silence.

The point is that I am learning to be me, to be Dayna. To embracing this adventure without plans, without much money, without an agenda of where to go or see things... and it is completely changing me. To being okay with things and knowing it will work out when your ride takes off, or you're stuck in San Francisco, or you run out of money in Santa Cruz. To shedding things that I don't need and that don't define me. Who needs materialism and cute clothes that were made in Indonesia by sweatshop kids anyway? Who needs to spend an hour getting ready to know they are beautiful? (Not to say that I don't love cute clothes or going out and looking nice, but I am just realizing I can survive without it WAY more easily than I thought possible.) I am finding freedom in letting go, in realizing how little I need to get by, how easy it is to give away or recycle clothes that just make your backpack heavier along the way anyway, and might make somebody's day. You never know til you try.

What I'm learning most, even if you can't tell from this post, is that I know nothing. I know nothing! I thought I knew a lot. But I know what I know, which is so little. I thought I needed to travel the world to feel this content (not that I still don't want to, I'm stoked to be abroad again). I thought I needed to go to far-off lands to satisfy my thirst for travel and new faces. But let's hop back to one thing I said earlier: "fully realize how beautiful I have ALLOWED my life to become."

Allowed. It is up to me, and has always been up to me. It's always been up to me to wake up in the morning and say "this may just be the best day of my life, so I'm going to make sure I do my best to let that happen." Doesn't always work. But it almost always makes me grin in knowing it's quite possible, and if I try to MAKE it possible, it's way more likely to happen. If there is rain, dance in it. If there is a headache, curse at it but know it will go away soon. If there is sunshine, take a walk in it. If there is lightning, check out how crazy beautiful it is (then run away). Take Today and breathe in it, spit on it, swim in it, fall in love with it... just be there.

Be present in your own life. Be THE factor that decides if your day is going to be wonderful and good. That's not to say hard days won't come, or times won't get rough. But if there is one thing I was meant to learn - and have learned - on this trip, it is that.

Feeling very accomplished with this novel, I am signing out. Presently. Ha.

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