Personal Journal Entry
3/21/16
Air Canada Flight
Santiago > BA (Buenos Aires)

Here it all comes. The last 15-20 minutes of my flight. I feel anticipation, excitement, curiosity, wonder, fear. What will I see? What will I experience? Who will I meet?

I admit also some impatience, wanting to get “in the flow,” “in the groove,” which I feel is about a week, or perhaps even months, away. Where will I be by that time? It’s all out there.

And I understand this now not just as a trip, a finite thing with defined boundaries and clear lines. You go on a trip and there’s a flight out and a flight home. Even the word itself, “trip” connotes this brief blip, a momentary gap in balance between one moment of confident stability and the next.

No, this is the beginning of a time in my life, a phase, a place, an era. A space. I feel the softer boundaries of that phrase, at both the beginning and end of all it implies. When did this even begin? When will it have ended?

In the same way, when does sunrise begin? When the sky goes from deep indigo to a slightly less deep shade of indigo, with the hint of something coming? And when does the sunrise end? When the sun is fully up in the sky? Perhaps some vague time before the warmth of the noonday sun is at its peak?

And yet a “sunrise” is still a discrete thing, in terms of a total experience of a daybreak, and a specific moment, when one can see the first direct light of our nearest star.

This is not a “trip,” not a “journey,” nor an “adventure,” though is it all of those things, and more.

It is a time in my life, my sunrise. And I have earned it. And it is beginning.

~/~

I wrote those words in my journal just before my flight from the United States landed in Buenos Aires, my first destination, the choice of which came to me in a visualization.

In fall 2015, to point myself in the direction of my dreams, every morning I would close my eyes, and for 15 minutes picture myself standing curbside at the international terminal of San Francisco International Airport with a printed ticket in my hand. Once I grew comfortable and confident in the visualization, I looked more closely at the paper.

On it was written “Buenos Aires.” So that’s where I went.

Dreamdays
Screenshot of my iPhone app DreamDays, which I used to track my days until departure.

You may find this hard to believe (or maybe not?) but heading into this experience, I had little idea of the magnitude of what I was signing up for. I was so wrapped up in the details, large and small, of liquidating my life and tying up the innumerable loose ends involved in making that transition, that I took almost no time to consider what an around-the-world backpacking journey meant in terms of time, commitment, energy, courage, dedication, and willingness to meet transformation in all its forms head-on.

I had focused my sight on the road beneath me, not the light ahead.

The moment this journal entry documents is the moment when I realized exactly what I had signed up for. Sitting in my window seat, tray-table down, nearly-blank journal open, the lush green lands of eastern Argentina rushing by me, I witnessed this experience, my dream, dawning.

Santiago to Buenos Aires
The view from my seat, departing Santiago for Buenos Aires. (Photo by WS)

I still feel it today. I feel it anew every day I tell my story to another stranger of where I’ve been, where I’m going, and who I am – as I did just hours ago to my Peruvian cab driver, John, and yesterday to the young British traveler, Alex, sitting next to me on the train. The feelings are the same now as they were at the beginning:

anticipation, excitement, curiosity, wonder, fear

So it’s poetic in the way that only life can be that today, June 21st, the 3-month anniversary of my departure, I watched the sun rise from the sacred Incan town of Ollantaytambo. For on this day, the Winter Solstice, in this tranquil, mystical place, the sun rises precisely between two mountains, and explodes into an open field where I and 30 others stood, having traveled not just from Peru but around the world to honor the sun, the earth, the sky, water, fire, the four directions, love, and our lives.

Holy Man Leads Ceremony
A local holy man from Ollantaytambo leads us in ceremony to welcome Papa Sol, on the Winter Solstice. (Photo by WS)

In the days leading up to that sunrise and in the minutes after, I realized I have found much of what I have been searching for in terms of “being in the flow.” When I first sat to try to write this post last weekend, I began with the line, “I am finally away.” That is the feeling. “Home” is no more. THIS is home now. I have no apartment to go back to, no bed to sleep in, no room to call my own except the one I am in right now. And it is wonderful.

When life quiets down I have this impression akin to that blissful sensation of when I’m in a sailboat having left the dock, and I feel that first rush of the wind catching the sails in a sudden, subtle acceleration. I may have been born in the desert, but my heart knew that sensation when I first felt it as a teenager. I am a sailor at heart.

Now this sailor is on the sea, his sea, and moving. I am where I belong. I am where I have always wanted to be. I am being the man I have always wanted to be, and am becoming him. And in the becoming I refine the being.

Ollantaytambo sunrise
Sunrise over Ollantaytambo, June 21, 2016. (Photo by WS)

This must be what “living your dream” feels like. I can’t imagine a finer sensation. Whether traveler, musician, artist, chef, singer, dancer, writer, priest, or all of the above and more, what greater feeling can there be than being pushed, or carried, driven, or led, by forces as pervasive as the wind, if only we lift the proper sail?

It took me many days to get here. I have many, many more to go. And today the questions for me are the same on Day 90 as they were on Day 1:

What will I see? What will I experience? Who will I meet?

Only the man asking them is different.

Me smiling

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