I left off the story with me arriving. First, why I made a detour here. I know what state of mind I was in prior to leaving. I was down. I was blind. Work, the daily trials of life, and a lack of purpose in life forced me to close my eyes. Being depressed is not fun. I guess I was. I thought I was getting physically sick. I felt it coming on—a pain in my belly, another in my throat, tingly hands, electric shocks all over the place. In deciding to do this trip, it was not only for discovery of self, but it was also to recover my physical self. My body was telling me I was not happy. It wasn’t just my mind. I felt that if I stayed, the symptoms I was feeling would actually materialize into some disease. Quantum physics, or just hippie talk? If you believe it, it will happen. If you believe you’re sick, it will happen. I had to break the chain. But there is more to it.
And this is where the positive comes in. I’ve been friends with Jodi for many years. She is a light that enters your being as soon as you meet her. She is a lightness of being that inspires; she is a soul that I can feel. But she is also a teacher, a source of unlimited love. She is another one of those role models for me. She’s at peace with who she is, at peace with the world around her, but yet still active, still involved. And so I decided before all the details of my trip materialized that I would first go down to sunny Florida. Recharge. Reinvent my self. Rediscover my self. Renew my energy. Because to go on this journey without that would be pointless. Because to achieve anything—even a small fraction of what I hope to achieve—will take a lot.
So I drive through the fog. I am going to worlds I’ve never seen before, I am open to change, I am open to learning all the bad things about myself, conquering them and moving past them. I am habitually late. But not today. I get there early. Again, anxiety is trying to find its way in. But this time it doesn’t. It should. I mean, I have some thoughts that had creeped in. The dog is one of them. I was crazy to think she’d stay in the car. It’s freakin’ Miami. It’s 80-something degrees and sunny. She’d be a roasted hot-dog. No way.
The other is Kiro, Jodi’s boyfriend. He is an unknown. By that, I mean like in a math equation—an unknown. We need to solve for “x.” I have some data to base myself on. And that is Jodi. So if she loves him, then we can solve for “x,” and I can assume I will, as well. He must be a nice soul, as well. And so, still just realizing Holly will not be able to stay in the car but not knowing the solution, I arrive early. And Jodi meets me and says Holly will stay at their place with Kiro while we go to her class. Well, that takes care of my problem just like that, and I tell her, and thank her, while excusing my stupidity.
We go upstairs. A zen feeling comes over me. This is peaceful. Calm. No television. Wow! I need to step up to this level. I cut out the cable back in November, and it’s been going well. But there is still a lot left to throw me off course. No television is where I wanted to get to, but I am still finding myself wasting at least a few hours in front of it. Anyway. That, for now, should be a non-issue on the road. But wait. Last night, I watched the news in the motel room and fell asleep to The King of Queens. Ugh. I need to step it up now.
We do everything I had hoped without even trying. Things just fall into place without planning, without trying. I need more of this. I had two wonderful days. Yoga sessions (and these are power yoga sessions that Jodi teaches) to loosen the body and quiet the mind, and meditation sessions after while your mind is ready to accept and explore. Inspiring. Spiritual. I am in awe of this world. I need to be part of it. It’s not Miami, but the world of people that have love in their hearts, the world of people who think spiritually, who search and discuss topics that are important to the core of our being, to our existence. A world where the body is a temple. A world where doing what you love is part of who you are, a positive influence on your soul, on your being and not a strain on who you are.
I always loved yoga. But in my world, it is not a lifestyle—it is just merely an escape from life. It can do that well, but it will never find its full effect until it becomes your life. Getting up in the morning to do meditation is something I would look forward to, unlike the recent past when I could not get moving due to anxiety and due to a lack of enthusiasm for the day to come. No sunrise, no sunset. Just a cubicle. No personal contact. Sterile. And I just can’t get myself to be that. It was a struggle to begin with. I was always against becoming the corporate ant (or hamster, or whatever animal that lacks individuality). You go to work to make the corporate machine make more money for the few, the 1%. You do this because it provides a livelihood. You do this because you feel you need to so that you can have a home, that you can send your kids to college.
But in the end, those problems find their own solutions, and you end up realizing—sometimes too late—that you have sold your soul. Because you are not doing anything to improve society, or create something new, or add some value, any value, to the human race. And this has become a central issue to my finding myself. Because it starts with that. We have to somehow survive. So if it is a matter of survival, it becomes easy to sell out your dreams. And further down the line, you find that in doing so, you no longer are yourself. You have morphed into a being that is much more closely resembling a robot than a human.
Miami. South Beach. Beautiful people. At least in the circle of friends of my friends that I encountered. Of course, it has a lot of the things I despise: the flaunting of wealth, from cars to mansions, to being removed from the reality of the world around you. We go to eat on Lincoln Road. Doggies everywhere. I loved that part. A tourist atmosphere, but I felt special. I was feeling like an honorary local. I had my dog. I had my friends. I didn’t feel out of place or in an unknown place. It all felt natural and chill.
I can’t say enough about the yoga classes Jodi teaches. I can’t say enough about the experience I had with her and Kiro at the two meditation sessions I was invited to and able to take part in. So I won’t. Suffice to say, I found some answers. And it turns out they were—are— always there, inside yourself, just waiting for you to discover them. But as we are often blind to what goes on around us, so are we blind to what goes on inside ourselves. And for me to tell you my discoveries of myself may only mislead you. Everyone has their own journey to make. I can say this: You can’t change anyone along the way—you can only lead with your example. And if you want to effect change, it has to start with you. So here I am. I am doing the things I feel are best for me, the things that I hope will lead me to the life I want.
My other time in Miami was spent with my other friends. Sebastian, whom I know from childhood, along with his wife and daughter. They live in suburban Florida. There’s a big difference between the two experiences, but both have their lessons, both also have their similarities. And there is beauty in seeing two different lifestyles and being able to reconcile them. I am here to learn. I am hear to see and listen. I am trying to be as flexible as possible, as open as possible, while at the same time inviting myself into people’s homes based on conversations and open-ended invitations made in the past that may or may not be accurate in the present. So it is hard, but imperative to adjust. For me especially. I am trying to break out of the life I had. But I find myself reverting to old habits and thoughts.
And as hard as it is to adapt, it is exactly what I need. It is that constant change that keeps me on my toes. It is that constant change that will hopefully lead me to understand who I am (again) and who I want to be (again). I say “again” because I have been here before, maybe twice before. I have found myself in high school and first years of college always trying to figure out who I am, what I will do. I never was able to figure out the positive side, who I want to be. I was able to figure out who I don’t want to be though, and it was clearly not the person I am today, from a lifestyle and career perspective. And at some point later, I can pinpoint the moment that that was thrown out the window, and it became okay to sell out certain principles for the greater good of providing for a family, a home, etc.
So Holly and I got to see and be part of their life for a day. Holly was an instant hit with their daughter. They had met before, a long time ago, in New York. So as soon as we walked in, Holly had a partner. Going for walks, playing fetch, and so on. Another beautiful home, which shows that it has loving owners. The next morning we decide to try to see the sunrise, and I am so excited. This is what I would do if I was alone. We have a good starting point for our day in terms of wanting to do and see similar things—of course, in terms of starting the day with the sunrise. Sadly, an overcast day put a different perspective on the sunrise idea, but we still woke up bright and early and got to the beach, more to a fishing pier that would have afforded us a great view.
But we met the local fisherman, met some pelicans, and returned home for a delicious crepe breakfast. I finally had some time to write, take a moment to revisit the past few days. And the afternoon consisted of a drive around Palm Beach, which had a double effect on me. First, I was not looking forward to gawking at mansions. The wealth that is there to me is astonishing, but it is also something I somewhat despise and don’t really see the point in me wanting to see it. And it was mainly big gates, big beautiful gates, with a chance to peek behind, over, or through them at what was behind. And then at night, driving back, it was only the gates. And then things came into perspective. Gates. Surrounded by the mystery of what lies behind them. Gates, that in their own were beautiful, that in their own right could be admired, gates that no longer were secondary to the grounds behind them, gates that became the primary object of ones attention. Gates represent an entrance, gates represent a passage from one side to the other. Gates, doors—all there, waiting to be opened.
The afternoon also held a surprise in our visit to a church—Bethesda-by-the-Sea. The stone building, with a somewhat gothic look from the outside, lay hidden behind it a beautiful inner courtyard, full of flowers and fountains, a koi pond, and gazebos. It was, to me, a very eastern type of layout and atmosphere that I love—very peaceful and zen. Afterwards we took a long walk, which was highlighted by many more tall fences with glimpses of the mansions behind and the boats docked at their individual private piers. A quick drive, and we go to dinner in a very quaint part of downtown Palm Beach (I think). We return home. Holly gets to meet Ruby, which is their pet guinea pig. She had been sniffing and trying to get to her in her cage the whole time, and finally we got her out and had them meet. Uneventful occasion except for its cuteness. The next morning, Seba and I took our time. We had a little time to talk, which we stretched to its limit. And here it turns out that my problem, my quest if you will, my feelings— they are there in the hearts of many more. Many who are successful at hiding them and keeping them at bay. And then I look back at the past years, and I understand. I understand that I was also there, and like most, I had a good enough reason to keep on doing what I did. In the end, goodbyes were said, and I received a book for my journey, a book that to Seba meant a lot and a book that he thought perfect for my journey: Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome.
A side note to the visit to Miami (really south Florida) was finding the doggie beach, seemingly the only legitimate one, in Jupiter. Aaah, this is how it should be. Why is it not like this everywhere? Or at least a section on every beach? But I am complaining. To me, I was just happy to find this spot. It was a wonderful morning. I did this on my last day, as I went from Seba’s place to Jodi for my last day with them. In this same side note to be mentioned is the spa at the Standard Hotel, which I was able to enjoy with Kiro the morning I left. An amazing experience that will go with me. And so I end, leaving Miami in route to New Mexico. But my first stop is Tampa with some more friends, and then on a whim I discovered a beautiful place to camp in the Florida panhandle.
More to come.