Somehow I think Liz Gilbert’s title has way better ring to it than my own.
I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of two worlds right now, and it seemed particularly obvious when we walked into a little French restaurant in downtown Ubud the other day….
I’m standing on the edge of a grey concrete world with a hard line drawn between the world I’ve always known and accepted, and something I *feel* is much more colourful, inspiring, and powerful than anything I’ve ever know. I just need to be willing to take the step.
Like – it’s easy to be personally colourful and inspiring and powerful within yourself – but how much impact can you really have, how much transformation can you really invite in, when everything around you is dark? Wouldn’t it be so much more beautiful to just take the step and shift?
You know… there was a time when you couldn’t have inspired me to write in this blog if my life depended on it. It’s like the box from which my prose spilled out – like handwoven tapestries from a loom – was all dried up. Empty. Nothing. Maybe the odd spark of creativity here or there, a thing I’d write some reflexive thoughts in Instagram about – but nothing of substantial value. A few weeks ago, in Thailand, I realized that these particular blog pages are for when I transform.
And I’ve learned a thing recently about transformation —> it can’t happen unless you’re willing to de-condition what you thought you knew.
That’s why I write.
– because I can’t make sense of my thoughts otherwise.
I spend my life being so linear and logical about new things that present themselves to me… and sometimes you’re faced with some things that can’t be lineared and logic’d – yet you have to make sense of them too if you want to move forward. That’s where the de-conditioning comes in.
This blog, unbeknownst to me, has been where the de-conditioning has happened – where I’ve shed the skin of conditions-past to become new versions of myself.
I mean, sure, my Instagram account is chock-full of memorable and mildly altering moments… but the magnitude of transformative processes in me is no match for social platform-imposed character limits. When serious conditions need be to splintered – this is where they happen.
My first solo trek through India and Nepal changed me at my core and demanded this blog… it was a time when I faced the planet’s most real poverty at a point in my life where materialism held me to my core. I walked through the world’s largest slum in Mumbai while wearing Tiffany bracelets on my wrist. How’s that for desperately needing to be de-conditioned?
My second visit to India, and my first adventure through SE Asia with Mark only asked to be subtly shared (with the exception of a few pivotal moments, of course). The beautiful little creature I met at the base of a temple in Cambodia de-conditioned my mind to beautiful little humans. I wasn’t, at that point, interested in a life partner, or a family… but the gentleness and helplessness and magic of this split second ignited a desire in me to provide, in any way I can, for those who need it…. I was de-conditioned again.
My second, solo trek across SE Asia was intricately mapped out on Instagram but again, didn’t demand of me that I explore deeper in this blog space… though, in the past couple of years my own (and mine and Mark’s) adventures in constructing an openly open relationship did demand this definitively transformative stage. De-conditioning all around.
A few minor life blips in the past few years that required I sit and spill my thoughts to this here site…. some business related, a few here and there on life as a whole…. and then nothing ground-breakingly substantial until I slept with an Aussie and then married this stud I’d not shared online before — (each in relatively short proximity of each other, I suppose). Weird. So many unexpected transformations – all requiring the linear and logical approaches of working through my emotions on ‘paper’. Seemed it worked.
Nothing’s demanded this blog space with any kind of regularity until this particular visit to SE Asia…. only this time it’s not travel… this time, it’s life.
Mark’s corporate life was undone and our joint focus became our startup. We decided it was appropriate to test-drive a lifestyle we’d been ogling for years: the life of digital nomads.
So we minimized our Toronto-based life, locked up our condo, gave my pup to his parents to watch, and set off. Weird that despite being on this journey together we’ve actually carved out very different paths of learning since arriving 14,000km away. What a beautiful reality – to be able to transform independently in such powerful ways – but do it alongside one another.
I’ve been devouring Osho with relentless fervour since his name has popped up randomly in my world more than a half dozen times in the past few weeks. Books upon books of this teachings flood the shelves of just about every bookstore I’ve visited lately. I look up his quotes spontaneously on Pinterest and with each subsequent quote his words resonate more and more strongly with my current inner state.
Mark and I may be here together… but we’ve given one another unconditional independence in the pursuit of the journey each one of us needs. We each had conditions that bound us and limited us from growing on our own — and we’ve needed to overcome those independently.
Side-by-side journeys. Different paths. Both learning to vibrate on higher frequencies.
Man… how grateful I am for this incredible human in world alongside whom I have such a deep privilege to grow. — (we clearly take said evolution deeply seriously)
Unbeknownst to us at the time of following a digital-friend’s online advice to visit Koh Phangan – what Mark and I needed was to heal (the ultimate transformation, I’d say). Ironically – we needed to heal not from any scars we’d imposed onto one another (which seems the relationship-default these days)- but to heal in our own personal, private, independent lives – the parts of ourselves that have nothing to do with the other. (beautifully, we’ve managed to keep those very much in tact).
Side-by-side deconditioning. Cute.
Mark’s openness to his journey in Thailand led him down the path of masculinity workshops and physical exercise. He needed to de-condition the relationship he maintained with his body and his masculine sense of self – not a space I could have any positive effect on. Conversely, I accidentally ended up on a path of (physically) healing past trauma that I was certain I’d (emotionally) healed years ago, stacked upon some baby steps into awareness of myself on a plane I’d never paid attention to before: the energy and spirit that hold together my body and my mind (please note: I still barely know what this means). Perhaps it was just recognizing that this glue even existed that began the de-conditioning / re-conditioning process?
Side-by-side. Different paths.
We arrived on Koh Phangan at the end of February without any expectations. My Gypsy Goddess Facebook friend called it her ‘healing island’ but I didn’t really know what that meant. We came to know quite quickly, though, that the island was full of yogis, gurus, and body workers – energy healers, practitioners of ancient wellness techniques.. and as hokey as it all sounded to me at the time, I had found myself surrounded by brilliant, passionate, open-minded and open-hearted folks just like me – escaping the shackles of their superficial western lives and opting for a slightly more conscious existence in a very different living space.
They’ve all undergone their de-conditioning already.
They were just like me: they work (mostly remotely), they play (with passports full of stamps to prove it), they indulge (coincidentally with restraint, though), and they love (mostly in open, consciously non-monogamous arrangements). The sense of familiarity was so strong among this seemingly random group of strangers that I couldn’t help but realize this particular place on the globe did, indeed, attract some very likeminded souls.
And then, there’s the energy.
They all talked about energy.
They talked about it like it was as obvious, natural, and objective to them as the colour of my skin to anyone else. Nobody questioned it the way I did – they all just seamlessly wove it into their daily routines: meditating, exercising, barefooting, creating, loving, pursuing evolution in one way or another. I met folks who’d been doctors, lawyers, and otherwise wildly accomplished in their “other” lives – but who chose an existence a little more understated, a touch more connected, and a lot more nourishing than anything I’d experienced back “home”.
Everyone was hyper aware of this thing I could barely bring myself to acknowledge: energy. (BUT WTF DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!)
Seems they were all ahead of me in the sense that they were willing to acknowledge a thing you can’t fully grasp. How strangely counterintuitive and weird… yet welcoming and fulfilling? sigh.
Even Carlos, the acupuncturist Mark and I ended up seeing every few days, built his international practice upon the ancient Chinese healing techniques of balancing energies – and we went to acupuncture twice a week to allegedly balance a thing we knew nothing about — but more on that later.
This energy thing I’ve been so adamantly examining for a few days now was literally all around me – and nobody seemed to question it at all. They’d all been re-conditioned to accept that it’s just a permeating force in their life.. and they seemed to be MUCH happier for it than I was.
Did I find it a little hokey at first? Yup – totally. I mean, all these folks running around in dreads, fashionably tattered threads, with crystals in hand. I mean, c’mon, seriously?!
– don’t even get me started on the crystals. How ridiculous, right? (I’ll get into that later too).
But who was I to call them hokey when it seemed they were all the things I longed to be: balanced, aware, mindful, happy. I don’t actually think I’ve ever resonated so much on the same level with any group of people in my life. Was I actually going to be obtuse and ignorant enough to scoff at their “new-age-y” way of life?
And, well, there’s that term again: resonate.
A girlfriend of mine was sitting in an airport today and somehow the topic of my energy post came up in her conversation with the Native American sitting next to her (coincidence?). He responded:
“The guy sitting next to me at the airport says, ‘Energy is your soul’s vibration with the universe.’ I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds nice.”
“Sounds awesome.” I responded. “But WTF does that even mean?!”
“LOL.” she replied. “I asked the same thing, and then we had a conversation about how everything in the universe has its own frequency and vibration.”
— there’s those words again.
She continued, “Native culture is very strong here – so the guy I was just talking to was telling me that they believe in an energy exchange with the earth. – I’ve always loved the idea that energy (whatever it is) is an exchange between you and the world, but I’ve never really understood it.”
She’s not alone on that one. (she added that she has a Native friend whom she’ll ask more of when she has the chance.)
Native. brought up twice. That can’t be an accident, can it?
Vibrations. Frequencies. Energy.
Are Native people, you know, those folks still entrenched in so many of the values of their ancestors, less conditioned to the ways of the west than I have been? Are they in touch with something that we, as a whole, have otherwise lost?
While Mark is transforming himself, I’m trying to figure out my path.
What is this energy that feels so simultaneously intuitive yet counterintuitive that the very thought of it makes me crazy? that I can’t logic my way into or out of it – I can’t measure it but can’t deny its existence at all?
I mean… I sat for almost an hour last night trying to capture a momentary flicker to prove to myself that it exists… and I did.
How can my western-word conditioning deny real-world proof of the existence of this thing I can’t see?
Alright. Well… if I’m going to seriously pour effort into figuring out this thing that it seems so many around me (and before me) have known… then…. let the de-conditioning begin …