I feel so nervous.
How could that be? I’ve read more for this trip than any I’ve ever taken. Emotional security should come from the precariously stacked, dog-eared copies of travelogues, political commentary, guidebooks and historical fiction piled in my kitchen, living room and bedside table. Right?
I’ve meditated on my purpose, gone on retreat to learn about pilgrimage, journalled my intentions, received the blessing of my friends and colleagues. My metaphysics could not be more on point.
Yet…I feel like I’ve lost it. Fear sets in. Why am I going to the Middle East by myself?!
“Solo woman travelling.” What a label. Last minute calls from friends and family quietly try to keep me safe by reminding me of the horrors to come, the kidnappings, the strange men, the food poisoning.
The insidious underlying question: “But is it SAFE there?”. Breathe. Appreciate the love and protection in the question. Explain. I’ve researched, I have good common sense, I’ve travelled a lot already in all different parts of the world. I’m not going anywhere crazy. I trust my judgement and the recommendations of friends who have travelled and guided there. Statistically I’m more likely to get hurt driving to the airport in my city than while away on the trip. I love you. I’ll email when I can. I love you.
I pack last minute as I always seem to, do so much “just-one-last-thing” work that I have to sprint to the customs line. I’m convinced it’s part of the journey to leave in a frenzy…
On the way to the gate I stop to buy a necklace, creating my own protective blessing from it – I’ve (sort of) convinced everyone else I’ll be fine, but a physical reminder for myself can’t hurt. I debate getting a fake wedding ring, something I did once before to stop the constant questions, but realize I don’t want to be dishonest with people. I’ll gauge as I go how honest I want to be with people, but approaching with an intentional lie on my finger feels wrong. I choose an amber stone, 50 million year old petrified resin that was believed in ancient times to have healing powers and to ward off mental and physical afflictions. The word “electricity” comes from the Greek for amber, elektron, due to the attractive “energy” it produces when rubbed. Here’s hoping it’ll attract good things for me.
Layover in London. I hang out under a tree that reminds me of a meditation I do sometimes: imagine flexible armour on my core, protecting the centre of myself so I can feel confident giving freely with my arms (generosity, love) and legs (travelling to help or care for others, being strong and carrying burdens).
On the way back to the London bullet train, I pass an unassuming church and pop in to centre myself. Inside, an entire orchestra is practicing. Transcendent harmonies echo off the stone walls. Peace.
I am reminded in the park and in the church that this trip is not about photos, though I take them to remind me of the things I saw and felt.
A reminder to meditate everywhere, to pray constantly, to stop and feel. I breathe and smile. Good check in, God.