Other than the deep, intrinsic knowing that I’m destined to be an epic cat woman and have a cozy beach shack overrun with furry orange cats yet being unable to have or keep a single one because of my frequent moves and housing situations, one of my greatest frustrations in life is the fact that I can’t be everywhere at once…or instantly teleport myself from place to place (for free.) That would make so many things so much easier.
As I reach the 1-year anniversary of leaving my last (well, second to last) island home, I’ve been reflecting on the old and the new and everything in-between.
Sometimes, letting go of the old to make room in your heart for the new can seem the most difficult thing in the world. As someone who has moved a lot, one might think I’d be somewhat of an expert on that whole “moving on” and “letting go” and “embracing the new” thing. Want to know a little secret? I’m not. At least, not all of the time.
One of the hazards of being a gypsy is having an overfull heart, with pieces scattered like footprints in all of the around-the-world places your gypsy shoes have taken you.
While I always, inevitably, yearn to see more of this world, I simultaneously cherish the memories and miss the making of the footprints left in places that are no longer my present, but rather my past.
It’s a paradox. The more I see, the more I want to see… and then, the more there is to miss. But I’d rather have a globe-full of footprinted stories and past realities to miss rather than a story that could be summed up in a mere few pages in one tiny sliver of the world. So. I’m sure that I’ll continue to island-hop and country-skip and make new footprints and stories and homes and fall in love with new kittens and friends that I inevitably end up leaving to do it all over again. And when my current footsteps start to be covered by sand in the recesses of memory, I’m sure that my passion and excitement for wherever my new present is will be tempered by a fierce missing of this place and this reality…just like now. It’s the nature of things, and I don’t resent it in the slightest because it is what makes the present moment so hugely precious. Eckhart Tolle says it well — “ Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have…”
The story that we are writing right now is all that we’ll ever have. To live and plan and dream solely for the intangible idea of some future reality, or to live in memories of past realities, is to miss out on the most valuable and important — and real — thing we’ll ever have…the now.
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said “I’d rather be RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.” That’s a good mantra to have in life, I think — especially for someone like me, whose feet have a hard time staying planted when there are so many endless miles of earth to cover.
Not that there’s anything wrong with wanderlust, or that fierce yearning for more. Those are good things. But, to always fully embrace and be sublimely content with the now is, I think, one of the greatest (and most challenging) goals we could set for ourselves….and also one of the hugest gifts we could give to ourselves.
So. Back to my opening theme of Letting Go.
Exactly a year ago today, I packed myself, my cameras, and my cat (Pandora) into my Smart and drove away from the life in Charleston, SC that I’d spent the past three-and-a-half years building. That’s a long time in my world. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and at the time, the hard was so big that there wasn’t hardly any room to feel excitement for the new (crazy, I know, considering I was moving to Hawaii.) But. That was the reality, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was stepping out and making one of my dreams happen, even though in that moment it hardly felt like something I wanted because I was so consumed by the massive letting go part that has to happen for there to be room for such a drastic change. (Sometimes you’ve gotta just be a bit relentless with yourself and your dreams, because staying in the old and familiar can feel a lot more comfortable.)
The excitement obviously came. In heaps. I get to live in Paradise. I love this current journey and all of the crazy adventures it brings on a daily basis, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. But occasionally I feel as though the letting go thing that was happening as I drove the Smart away from our home last year is something that I’m still working on. And, part of fully embracing the right now is to know that it’s okay to feel that way.
Every time you go out and leave the familiar to chase your dreams, it is going to involve challenges and doubts and loneliness and second-guessing and missing. It’s a given. To acknowledge those feelings is important — they’re part of the present moment and remember, that’s all we’ve got so to embrace it is essential… in all of its beauty or ugliness. Acknowledging all of that is, I think, part of what facilitates the letting go. Let yourself feel and process and grieve the end of a journey, if that is where your path has taken you — even if it’s an end that you created, in order to make room for the beginning of a long-held dream. No matter how wanted the beginning is, there is ALWAYS pain involved in letting go. It’s another fact of life. Give yourself grace and patience when you feel torn and pulled in a million different directions all at once. It doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place, or that you’d be happier somewhere else. Quite the opposite, actually. You could move anywhere in the world tomorrow, but ultimately you won’t be any happier than you are in this moment.
Remember… it’s all a part of the wild, colorful, exquisite canvas you’re creating that is your life. Every part — the beautiful, the bitter, and everything in-between — is equally important and equally precious. Grab hold of this moment, hard, and never let go.
This post is a tribute to the many scattered memories of Charleston, my home before Hawaii… and to my two unforgettable kitten babies, Pandora and Sofia. And to the family that had just, shortly before I up and left, made my home their home. To live life with you for a few months was its own form of Paradise, and every piece of me hopes that it happens again at some point.
Pandora is now a mama to eleven of her own fur babies, and spends her days roaming the corn fields of Indiana. Blissfully happy with the endless supply of mice to hunt, she seems to have forgotten her early days as an island kitten.
Sofia lives on Oahu, where she was adopted a few months ago by two little girls who — I hope — are able to keep up with her rambunctious antics. She’s a fearless jungle cat through and through.
Here’s to another year of epic adventuring, and all the places it might lead. My gypsy heart is overflowing… and I’ve only just got started. Life is the grandest adventure, and I am grateful.