Years ago, my Chi Gong teacher told me a story…
At the bottom of a raging river there lived a group of creatures who spent their lives in the darkness and clinging to the weeds. The river tugged at them constantly, the current buffeted and bruised them, but the only existence these creatures knew was to hold on tightly to the weeds. This is what their kind had always done.
One day, the current carried to them a creature from far upstream. She found herself amongst the creatures in the weeds and held on in order rest for a while. Her body was bruised from the rough ride in the current, but her eyes were wide with wonder and her heart was full of the adventures she’d had. The creatures of the weeds asked what she had seen, and she simply replied, “the only way to know the river is to let go.”
Five years ago I put my things into storage, got my life down to a backpack, a guitar, a white cane, and hit the road.
I have always craved independence, but feared that living with a disability meant that I would have to be dependant on a caregiver. I feared being alone.
In the last five years I have often found myself alone. At first, I was terrified - but further down the road I have come to embrace those as some of my most precious moments. When I am alone I process the great adventure. I reflect on my travels and what I have seen. I open myself to where I am and practice gratitude. Just as the darkness helps me to appreciate the light, in my solitude I more deeply appreciate the people in my life.
I have encountered remarkable friends along the way who were ready to help when I needed it. I have met many fellow travellers who share this road and the wisdom of it, who offered an arm or a word of advice in my times of need, who have helped me to see the world in new ways, and who have shared the many songs of the road.
I have such gratitude for the friends and family who have opened their homes and their hearts to me and challenged me to go further into the world and dig deeper. They have encouraged me to bring the light back to the world and to share it. It’s not always easy, but the rewards are vast. On the road I have discovered drawing and painting, not only as a way to record my travels but also as a way to see more deeply and clearly. I have fallen more in love with music. I have fallen more in love with laughter, bad jokes, and storytelling. I have fallen more in love with Canada and her people. I have fallen more in love with early mornings and late nights, comfortable beds, hot coffee, cold drinks, home-cooked meals, bathtubs, and walking in bare feet in warm sand or cool grass. The list goes on and on and on.
If I could go back in time, I would say to myself: “it’s alright…. you can let go. You will often be alone, but you will rarely be lonely.”