Pilgrimage

I started a new book today. It is about a journey. Not just travel, not just a trip, but turning it into something with and of purpose. Something that we have been called to do, that we hope to learn from, that will challenge us and at the same time cause us to grow in ways we cannot imagine. I think that is what I have done. I may be on a walkabout, on an adventure, or as some would say, THE adventure. I think I have started a pilgrimage. 

I was moved from deep within to do this. I was called, if you will, to this journey and to perform the preparations that got me here. This was not just some cockamamie idea that came to me one night in a drunken stupor. I have struggled with these feelings my entire life. I worked hard to come up with the solution to the angst, the discontent, to feed the beast that was tearing me up inside. I struggled with the answer, I wrestled with the beast until we came to an understanding. Now, since I made this choice and put this plan into action, and now that I am living it, the beast, she sleeps. She is content and quiet. She rests. 

I can’t say that I am on some amazing spiritual journey or that I will come back with all this wisdom or the cure for cancer or anything. I am not trekking about to bring attention to anything in particular or increase knowledge (because raising awareness is bullshit and not measurable and what the fuck does that mean anyway?) about some important cause. I am just here, writing and thinking and pondering and reading and hiking and biking and washing my hankies in a bucket and peeing in the woods. No story for the 6:00 news, not here, not really. Nothing earth shattering going on. 

But, to me, this is everything. I have gone all in, and then some, to make this happen, to bring this vision to life, to make this dream a reality. I left nothing behind. Well, except my stuff in storage. But, come on, I get to have that, don’t I? I did get rid over over half of my worldly goods. That must count for something! I went through the emotional pain, the highs and the lows, the fears and the adulation, the anxiety and the excitement while I prepared to make this most significant change to my life. While I prepared for my adventure, my walkabout. While I prepared for my pilgrimage. 

I never really thought about this undertaking in those words, within that context. I associate pilgrimage with some journey in tribute, or in homage, or in honor or memory of someone or something lost, taken away, or unattainable. A pilgrimage to put to rest that person, place or thing that has us in pain. I suppose I was in pain. I suppose I was at a place where I was mourning myself, my sacrifices, feeling the loses of what I was not, did not, could not be or see or say or do. That life that I never had because I was busy with the “have to” part of being a responsible adult, a mother, a wife, a daughter, an educator, employee. 

I once had my roles stripped away from me and that was like my psyche being peeled off. I was left naked, exposed, raw from the experience. I had to define myself all over again, without those roles, without titles or worldly goods. I had to define myself with just me. Raw, naked, exposed.  What did I have? Me. Myself as a person, not as a title or as a role. Not as a measure of what I owned or the job I had. Just me. The me that walked right into the hands of God. The me that found a faith that is unwavering, that runs deep and true. Me that knows wherever I go, wherever I am, whatever I am facing, I am never alone. Never. Strip it all away and the only thing I am is a child of God. I know this to be true. It is enough. 

But, wait, how did that get me here? Did I have some vision from God? Did I have some dream at night? Some epiphany in the shower? No, nothing like that. I wrestled, I struggled with my life and the choices I had made. I battled the beast and I was losing. When this idea of a walkabout, of leaving all I had built, all I knew, all I had attained came to me, I felt a sense of release I had not felt before. I felt an energy so strong and so powerful I could not look away. Then I thought that this was crazy! Leave my home? My stuff? My good paying job with great benefits? Leave my health insurance and retirement contributions? Leave safety and security? The only answer for me was YES. Finally, may life started to make sense. My purpose became clear and my actions crystalized. I had to do those things that bring me the most joy in this life before there was no more life to live. I had the means, I had the capacity, I had enough knowledge and skills to build on. The path became more and more clear. The beast started to calm. 

To be clear, I am not running away. I am running towards. I am leaning in so hard that I am nearly on my face. I am doing each and every thing that brings me the most joy in this world. There are struggles and challenges. Although, I have figured out how to keep my ears warm when I am sleeping on my side. You see, I have a mummy bag. That means it is a sleeping bag designed to mostly sleep on your back, all snug and warm. It also has a hood and this great neck shelf leaving exposed only your nose and mouth. However, when you turn on your side your ear gets cold. Now I sleep with a neckerchief, or bandana as some call it, and put that over my ear or my nose. Problem solved! Aside from that, I have challenges with the weather, with staying warm, with where to lay my head after I leave one place, with remembering where I put things, with the money I see flying out of my bank account. Sure, there are things. There will always be things. The trade off? I go to bed when I want, wake up when I want, or go back to sleep if I want. I read, write, hike or ride my bike. Today I swayed in the hammock and read a book. Then, I sat in my chair and finished the book. I drank tea in the morning and wine this afternoon. I felt the warmth of the sun on my face and the gentle breeze as it blew my hair in front of my eyes. I strolled down the road just because. 

Yes, I signed up for this. Despite the cold, despite any of the other challenges, this is what I wanted and this is what I have. What I say and do and who I meet are still unfolding. I feel early in this, I feel it is too soon to make any conclusions or decisions. I have a lot of miles yet to cover. But, heading into week three, I am fine. I am happy, I am relaxed, I am at peace. The beast still sleeps. I believe her content, too. I do not know what this journey will bring or what it will look like farther down the road. Then again, I do not have to. I have to be here, now, in this place with this reality, acting on whatever is happening in my environment. I have never lived so much in the present as I am right now. It feels good. I feel good. This is good.

I am on a walkbout. I am on a journey to live and learn about myself and the vast expanse of the world around me, to connect with my loved ones and meet new comrades, to see new places and have new experiences. I am on the adventure of a lifetime. I am on a pilgrimage. 

3 Comments on “Pilgrimage

  1. this is so well-written Michelle, and I identify with the feeling that it was something you just felt you “had” to do. I look forward to following along as you continue living in the here and now on your pilgrimage.

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  2. Greetings Michelle-the-Pilgrim–keep on writing! It clearly feels wonderful to be you–and to understand who you are and what brings you contentment. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind after reading your post/entry. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord…to give you a future and a hope.” This was a favorite bible verse of my late brother Steve.

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