Travelling for 6 months
This piece could also be called: half a year of detoxing.
Imagine you're a bird in a cage. Over the cage, a dark veil. The sunbeams pierce through the tiny holes in the fabric, so you can see that there's beauty out there, but you can not feel its fulness, only a filtered version. You long for this light, you know it's there, it just can't reach you, or you can't reach it.
The veil consist of all the things you've accumulated in your life, all the layers that are now covering your soul, all the unnecessary anticipation and perfectionism and pressure that strains you. All the things you've almost come to believe to be normal, but deep down, you know they're not. They just hinder you and bring you nothing. Somehow these convictions stick with you, 'cause that's what happens when things repeat themselves for years.
When you go and travel, you open the door of the cage, which is a good first move, but it doesn't get rid of the veil right away. So at first, all this new beauty is still hard to really soak up. This is frustrating, because now more than ever you know you're surrounded by unique charm, impressions and grace and you still can't touch it or let it in. You know you took a step and you can taste the freedom as you stand on the threshold, but this persistent veil doesn't just blow away with the first wind of liberty.
I guess this is part of the reason why travelling Sri Lanka and India was so hard on us. Of course the harsh encounters didn't make it easier, or the poor hygiene which caused health issues, but the fact that we couldn't fully open up to the wonders of this particular part of the world, was very confronting. Before we took off, I was rather naive in thinking that being surrounded by a new world, we would automatically keep looking through new eyes. What I found is that the human mind is extremely flexible, so our 'new' soon became our 'normal'. It makes me proud to see our boys are fazed by practically nothing: you can put them in any setting for eating, transport, sleeping or interaction and they just go with it: this is their world now. The downside is that you lose the distraction of wonder. The other day I was talking to a friend via Skype and he wondered whether returning home would be more estranging or difficult now, than dealing with all the different cultures here. I said I hoped it would be, my fear would be that we'd be back in our old routines in no-time.
Then came our time on Ko Samui, Thailand, which came close to what we had hoped for, but still we struggled with heaps of restlessness. Also, people working in tourism are set to cater short-term vacationers, not in-it-for-the-long-haul detoxers, so there's not much sincerity going around. Don't get me wrong: this didn't prevent us from having a great time, but we just felt we weren't 'there' yet.
Vietnam made for discovering a whole new set of culture, food, people, was very interesting, but was also very difficult in terms of wellbeing, due to a lot of bad weather and tiny hotelrooms - it's not natural to live in each other's pockets like this. Your glass of attention to give is emptied and you have no chance of refilling it. Almost ten weeks of this was stretching our limits and there was only one wish on our minds: space. Thankfully we found this in our last weeks in Vietnam and from that moment, the world is looking different yet again.
Ever since, a breeze of good luck pushes us gently forward and even seems to have lifted the veil for the most part. Being in Malaysia feels like flying on the warm wind of gratitude, basking in the light sunbeams of the sun in wonderment and appreciating this in the most direct way, unfiltered. When I felt bad during my last patch of feeling useless, my friend send me a message saying: we here in the West are trying everything we can to practice mindfulness; you are it! All you need to do now, is feel comfortable with it. So that's happened now, finally (she says impatiently). Somehow I just knew beforehand that it would take a while, that we needed a year for this, that there are no quick fixes when it comes to these matters of the soul. It takes time to be at peace with a slower pace. I'm over the moon with the six months of adventures that it took for us to reach this point, wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.