“Not all who wander…” has been in draft version for the past 2 plus months. It’s taken a long time to compose as I’ve been wandering 😉 I will preface this segment by stating that this is my blog and I offer my opinions and observations here. Your opinions matter to me and I welcome your comments.
As I stated in my first blog entry, the wanderlust bug bit me at a very young age. Life took upon a whole new meaning once I stepped foot off of U.S. soil and saw how other cultures and people exist. At that point, life for me became about new experiences, new encounters with people and places. Ironically, the bug coincided with my initial fascination with photography. I’ve not wandered without a camera since 1985.
Wandering into the blog world. When I first embarked on this WordPress thingy, it was last October and I was charged up about documenting the Occupy movement. Although I agree with most who argue that the US is still the greatest country to live in, I do believe that our government needs a serious overhaul. I became an observer of Occupy from the outside in Buffalo, a small but powerful movement, which like all the others, has since been disbanded by the authorities. Seems “Occupy” is still alive in the virtual realm, yet the physical presence of actual protests is being squashed at the inception of any non-permit issued collection of bodies in a public place. The United Police States of America? I must admit I lost my mojo for being physically present for Occupy after being in NYC @ the original OWS, at Zucotti Park. They tore down the encampment while I was there and I was actually glad because there were so many homeless and drug addicted who had wandered in. It was not a pretty place to be. While some people think that the movement majority was/is comprised greatly of the downtrodden, the unemployed, people with a lack of motivation who want some sort of handout, I can assure you that a large percentage of folks I encountered first hand were highly intelligent, professional people who have been calling for a revolution for a very long time. I am still aligned with what I feel the original purpose of Occupy was… very basically, to bring worldwide awareness to the FACT that our government is run by large corporations and that greed is completely destroying a once prosperous nation. There are many other facets that the 99% are debating and fighting for, such as ending senseless wars and instituting affordable health plans for every American. One of my personal favorites is reminding Congressman and Senators that they were HIRED to work FOR the people. I’m all down with Warren Buffet’s proposed congressional reform act. If you haven’t read it, please do.
Wandering away from Occupy… After spending time in NYC @ Occupy, it was clear to me that the media coverage was not giving Occupy it’s due process and it never would. For many reasons, mainly a united, solid and focused leadership, I felt it to be futile, mirroring my sentiments about our country’s economic recovery. Unsure of what my future held, I ventured down the road into the unknown in my trusty “Westie” wondering what would be next for me? What would I do, where would I go now? Yes, I felt afraid. It’s been said by many great spiritual masters that all of our emotions are derived from either fear or love. One question that I had planned to try and find concrete answer via the people of Occupy was… why is this country in such upheaval? Are people protesting because they are angry, which boils down to fear? Are they afraid for generations to come? for their own personal “security?”
[an aside here… I remember being part of the anti-war movement in San Francisco, marching in the streets against invasion of Iraq. IMHO, there is no better city to protest in than San Francisco! What an incredible feeling to march down Market St with thousands of people who think the same about the devastation war results in for ALL involved except the very rich who profit from it. Yes, war is HUGE business! The general fear that existed around the protests post 9/11 was that our government would spend trillions of dollars and millions of innocent civilian lives would be lost. All, in this particular case, not to actually protect the citizens of this country, but? ____ You can fill in the blank but I’m sure there’s a BIG $ in the answer somewhere if you’re hip to the tricks. OK, so it turns out that there were no WMD’s. Anyone who has done research aside from what the media portrayed, knows that 9/11 was a horrible scenario concocted to launch the American people into FEAR. Yes, GW and his cronies did an excellent job of making the vast majority of Americans terrified about the “evil doers” striking again. LOL! another blog entirely… What protest all comes down to is the idealistic wish for an enlightened global consciousness, one that prioritizes human lives before greed and wealth. Not in our capitalist “culture.” Money = power = security…… really??? ]
So the big question for my readers is… HOW DO YOU DEFINE SECURITY? Does it include one or all of the following? The full time job with benefits (a fast fading part of the American dream) the secure? retirement plan, 2.5 kids, a nice house, nice car(s), all insurances intact and paid, the perfect partnership/union, and maybe that superb 2 week vacation where you blow a huge wad of doe, only to return to work the other 50 weeks to repeat it the following year? Do you work to keep yourself and your family safe and secure within these constructs that society has created for us to follow? The aforementioned are all things that we are conditioned to believe make us secure and happy, mostly through the TV and advertising. As a culture based on consumerism, we constantly lust after new stuff. Advertising makes us believe we will be happy if we just have that new this or that… What is it that defines your security? What would happen if whatever it is, disappeared?
WHERE MY TRAVELS LED… Thinking that I needed to establish some “security”, to find a job/job (because that’s just what “normal” people do ;-), I figured I would take an old friend up on an offer to help him flip his house in Richmond, VA and try to find some work there. In late November of 2011, after just 3 days there, my instincts spoke loud and clear that Richmond was definitely not the place for me. After traveling all that way planning to settle down, I was confused. My mind was starting to operate from a fear place. I couldn’t quiet it long enough to see down the road from where I was. I lost my TRUST that an unseen force, my INSTINCTS, (some call this God) were guiding me. Yes, I refer to God as my TRUE instincts and vice versa. Some say it’s not humble to say that one IS God, that believing in such a way is egotistic, blasphemous, sacrilegious… Myself, I am very humbled to be a part of Creation as a whole, of this beautiful planet and it’s creatures. We are all connected to everyone and everything energetically. When we lose touch with this connection, the ego can come in and mess things up in a heartbeat if we let it. It’s sometimes hard to decipher what is ego and what is pure instinctual guidance. But I find if I get really, really quiet, the next step is revealed. Going deeper… We are born instinctual beings, just like animals, but with intellect and the ability to reason and communicate with language. Basically, the way I see it is IF there is an almighty being called God, he/she/it gifted me (and you too) with instincts to follow to connect to HIM, HER, IT, THEY, THE DIVINE, whatever you wish to term it. We fall away from instinctual behavior when the constructs of society are shown to us, starting at a very early age. We are not fearful by nature, we learn fear and fear is what keeps us in our mind vs. being instinctual. And when we begin to clear out all the riff raff that our mind tells us we should be doing and get really quiet with ourselves, our instincts speak to and lead us. The key is that we have to slow down enough and learn to listen to them. We have to deeply relax. <another blog entirely> So onward… From Richmond, I set out again with even fewer possessions in my trusty van and wound up in Florida, a state I really had no desire to visit, let alone live in! After house sitting for a friend near West Palm Beach for a couple of months, and having a showing and sale of my work, I figured I would drive down and check out the Keys. I had heard good things about them, but didn’t really know what to expect. I arrived in Key West on January 31st, thinking I just would stay a day or two and then move on. But where was “on”? This was the end of the road.
On that day, I met Joe at Ft. Zachary Taylor, a beautiful and peaceful Florida State Park that is famous for it’s sunsets. Joe has a Westie, 4 years newer than mine in superb condition. He also has Reggie, his moody little cockatiel 🙂 Reg is obviously part of Joe’s family. People who have never traveled in these vehicles, sadly, just aren’t tuned into the unspoken connection we have. There is a freedom like no other that the vehicle offers. Our vans are part of our “family.” When I met Joe, he said that if I stayed a few days in KW, I probably wouldn’t leave. I hadn’t planned to stay longer than another night… Well, two months later, minus a couple brief excursions to the mainland, I got in my sweet Westie and bid my “hasta luego” to a place that truly taught me that happiness is a state of BEING, not mind. That little segment of time in Key West also offered me a sense of freedom I had only ever had small glimpses of before. In a place where I often lived on under $10 a day and never lacked for anything, I became the wealthiest woman in the world. I found my dream job too! It’s pretty simple and it pays well. The description goes something like this… live simply, follow your instincts, live by the Golden rule, be grateful for EVERYONE and EVERYTHING you have, stay relaxed, and carry the message of freedom and happiness in daily life. It’s become clear to me how little I need to live well. As a matter of fact, the old saying “less is more” truly applies in my case. Basically, I want to thank the Universe, aka my Instincts /God for setting the stage for me to stay long enough in Key West for the magic to happen inside. You were spot on, Sugrue! 🙂
Wandering back to the topic of “security”… From my own personal experience, having had very nice places to live in the SF Bay Area, 2 cars, good jobs that brought in often more than enough $$, long-term, meaningful relationships, I can clearly see now that my true happiness, which some feel is derived from this “security” was never arrived at from anything material. Yes, there were moments of bliss in all aspects of my material life, but it all disappeared, slowly… by conscious choice and not. Currently, I have very little of what society generally defines as security. My sweet old van, Westie, with 263K miles, has often been my “home.” Why did I put home in quotations? My own personal experience is that I have been forced to find my true home inside. Home for me has become not about the constructs or all the stuff within them that we surround ourselves with. Rather, my home is a feeling of deep contentment, that comes with the ability to fully relax in my own skin. Quite honestly, there are still times I question my current lifestyle, my ego comes in and tells me that I’m less than, and I start comparing myself to others who have all the schtuff that most people think makes them happy. Because I have always been a Truth seeker and ask for it to be revealed to me, I feel I was forced to let go most of what I thought my life was so that I could find true happiness and peace. There is a beauty like no other of truly living in the moment. My “home” expands within each mile I travel, with each photograph I take, with each new person I encounter on a daily basis. And I thank the Universe for all the wonderful people that have crossed my path, the souls that I have shared happiness and anguish with. For without the sour, we can never know the sweet. And Christoper McCandless said it best from “Into the Wild”… “Happiness is only real when shared!” 🙂
The journey of life is not a guided tour, it is an adventure. And although I would love to share more about the wanderings of Key West, I’m going to save it for another blog. I’m honored that a few of you will take time to read this. If I reach one person, I have been successful. (Please see my first blog entry for the definition of Success I subscribe to.) My closing words to the weary on this journey come from the book “Eat Pray Love.” I was deeply moved by the book and have since given many copies to friends on a Truth seeking journey.”
Liz Gilbert – “In the end, I’ve come to believe in something I call “The Physics of the Quest.” A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”
The Key West blog is coming soon. To the people I met and the incredible negative ionic, geographic situation of the place, I am forever grateful. What a colorful bouquet of flowers it all was. A large missing piece of the Truth was revealed to me. And I can conclude with one sentence… Fear is but an illusion and when we walk into the unknown and face it, the gifts that arrive are often wildly magnificent!
Namasté good people 🙂