Leaving Room for Serendipity

Quote of the day: “But something was working deep inside me and , like a tropical storm, it gathered momentum before hitting me full force with its message: you are a woman in search of an adventure, said the voice inside. Take the risk. Say “Yes” to life instead of “No.”
— Alice Steinbach Without Reservations: the travels of an independent woman

Back Yard Photo Taken This Morning – Safe, Comfortable Sanctuary of Home

I picked up the book, Without Reservations: the travels of an independent woman, from the library today and started reading about Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Alice Steinbach’s chronicle of her several-month journey of self-discovery. She left home and job for an 8-month sabbatical, traveling and living in Paris, London, Oxford, and Italy.

When I read the quote above, I felt as if her words completely described my decision to spend almost 4 months in Hawaii this winter.

I love that she planned her trip much like I am planning mine, with a bit of structure to start with, but plenty of room for serendipity.

Her journey, like mine, was not for accomplishing some thing. Instead, she followed her heart, listening, seeing, feeling, the places around her. During her journey she mailed postcards home to herself—little missives of joy and astonishment that she would read when she returned home and be reminded all over again of the wonder and beauty she met every day during her travels.

What a lovely practice, sort of like my daily gratitude practice.  I think I will send myself postcards from Hawaii.

Steinbach, experienced many of the same anxieties that I have noticed arising now that the initial excitement of committing to make the trip has worn off. Here is a description of her experience during the flight to Paris – “To my dismay, I arrive in Paris not an excited woman but an anxious one. Without warning, halfway through the flight, my sense of excitement deserted me and a new, less welcome companion arrived: a complete failure of nerve.”

What a relief to see that I am not the only one to have second or third thoughts about embarking into the unknown. I am still very excited about leaving for Hawaii in early December but every once in a while I look around my home, at my husband sitting with me at the dinner table, at Gracie, the cat, purring in my lap and I wonder, “What was I thinking?”

Like Steinbach, I find it all too easy to catalog in my mind everything that could go wrong during the trip. And every time I catch myself doing that, I remind myself to stay in the present moment.

I have been intentional in leaving room for serendipity in my trip. I imagine there will be glitches and discomfort at times. I also imagine that I will feel many things during my travels including challenged, homesick, exhilarated, lonely, happy, uncertain, and self-confident. It is all a part of the adventure.

If I wanted to be comfortable all the time, I wouldn’t embark on an adventure. Comfort is highly overrated, I think.

Ancient Banyon Tree near Hilo, Hawaii, where I will start my journey this winter


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