I’ve never met you, but I figure you must be wise if everyone is writing to you. I find myself in a situation that I can’t seem to wrap my head around, and I’d like your counsel. You see, my suitcase is packed, yet again, and I’ve told myself I’m leaving, yet again. But I don’t know where it is I’m going. And this time especially, I’m not sure why it is I’m walking away. So far, it’s just been something I do, every now and then, when the place I’m in starts to feel familiar and my every move predictable. I’ve thrown myself into new situations, struggled to find my footing, until I have, and proceeded to build a life around it - friends that feel like family, like lovers, like life.
And then, before it sits too long and sours, I stir it all up. I pull myself away from everything and everyone that finally feels like home, like the tentative tearing of Velcro. I say goodbye to people, and animals, who don’t quite understand why it is I would ramble on from something so beautiful. I prepare myself for the inevitable longing, missing and doubting of my own internal wisdom telling me it’s okay to go. Always looking forward, into oceans of uncertainty and adventure, my heart beating like a wild drum. How intoxicating, facing an abyss so terrifying. Jumping off of cliffs using only hunches as parachutes. I think I want this. I think I’ll find something there. I know I’ll get lost, but I’m fairly certain that I’ll find my way. Even if I don’t end up where I think I’m going, I’ll find myself, somewhere.
This path of blazing new paths is what I’ve come to define as life. Navigating this planet like a once-timid bird turned pterodactyl. When I’m flying, I know that I can do anything, that I can see everything, that I can live life kissing the sky and come back to land when the time is right. Living like this, I’ve experienced so much more than I could ever tell you in a letter. So why stop now? Except for that opposing question, the one that the people I love ask me with desolate eyes: Why go? I never had to think much about the answer before, even though it wasn't something I could explain to the satisfaction of those asking me. It was enough to feel the answer inside of me - the pull of the world and potential on my soul; the rumbling of growth somewhere inside of my blood and my bones; my curiosity for what could possibly lie on the other side of the threshold.
But now I’m sitting here, with my suitcase packed, and for the first time that I can remember, I feel hesitant holding it in my hands. It’s heavy with things I’m sure I don’t need. But beyond that, I have no idea where to take it. The unrest that led me to pack it up has not yet given way to the pulling I’ve grown so used to. I yearn for growth just the same, but now my potential and adventure are right here beside me, no longer tied to the promise of a land yet to be discovered. I feel at home, in a place that has welcomed me with the open arms of the ocean and clear skies, with smiles on faces that need no reason other than their seeing me to exist. It’s not even this place that is my home. Finally, it is myself. I am home in my skin, in my own swollen heart, in this brain that processes everything I encounter in ways I didn’t know I could imagine. My body and everything it houses feel stronger than I’ve ever been.
I think what I’m coming to realize is that I am happy. And beyond that fleeting emotion, I feel fulfilled. My eyes have finally opened to truths - about myself and my world - that before I had been blind to. I knew they were out there, somewhere, and so I went looking for them. So many countries and chapters later, the warm, kind hands of Thailand pried me open just enough for me to see that, all the while, what I needed had been inside. I have found the treasure I didn’t realize I was seeking. I have found myself.
Don’t get me wrong, the world still calls me. It always will. Only now, it’s screaming sounds more like a warm hum, or the slow trickle of water that - while I want to dip my toes in - I don’t feel the urgent need to dive into completely. Not before I’m ready. I fear that doing so now might feel a bit like waking up in the dead of winter and stepping into a cold shower. I wonder if I shouldn't just stay here in bed. After all, there are no obligations forcing me out of it.
So why did I pack this thing up in the first place? My alarm went off - two and a half years already. Isn’t it time to wake up? To go make the doughnuts? Ah yes, money. Those evil bits of paper. Must keep making them. Saving them. Weaving them into a security quilt. Everything in my conditioned brain was screaming that I need more of it. More than I can make here. Load up! Follow the dollar signs, wherever it is that they’re hiding. But those voices, they scream in English, and my heart speaks only in love. Now I feel them arguing in their foreign tongues, neither understanding the other’s motivation. If only I could get them to work together, so I could realize what it is that they need now. Instead, I just feel fickle.
I can’t tell if it’s fear holding me here, or wisdom. If my legs are weary and weak, or simply enjoying a $10 massage. Maybe I do have everything I need here, in which case it’s a matter of figuring out what I want beyond that. I suppose you can’t help me with that part, can you? Seeing as how we’ve never met. And I know already, that answer lies only inside of me. I thank you anyway for your audience and for your time. It has helped me to organize some things in my mind. I’m sure I don’t have the answer yet, but I will soon enough.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.