Books have become one of my closest companions as I continue on this solo travel venture around the world. They take me to far off places, give me insight into things I once could have never fathomed, and encourage me to expand my mind, my heart, my soul in the direction of my dreams. I occasionally have moments when I read something, and the words begin to resonate deeply inside me. I silently take in the black characters on the page in front of my eyes and an overwhelming sensation curses through my body. I suppose it’s the feeling of awakening; stoking the fires of inspiration and reminding me of all the things in which I already knew, but have simply forgotten.
It was Brenda and Brady who first discovered it. She had just finished her book and was searching for a new read when the two of them came across “Conversations with God: Book 2” in a tiny guesthouse in Jomsom; a peaceful village about two days walk from the epic Throng La pass. It’s funny that I can’t seem to remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, but I’ll never forget every detail of that day more than a year ago. The five of us arrived to town via a dusty trail mid-morning, the much-welcomed sun kissed our skin from a cloudless sky above.
We found a bright pink family-owned guesthouse that had space for all of us and began to settle in for what would be our last evening together in the mountains. Sarah and I would be jeeping to Tatapani hot springs in the morning, the others would continue by foot to complete the Annapurna circuit over the course of the next week.
It was the first time our tribe had come across a hot shower in almost two weeks, and therefore the first time Sarah brushed her hair.
I remember there being this unspoken desire for solitude each of us that afternoon; which I attributed to some degree of mental and physical exhaustion from the forty-eight hours earlier when we awoke at 3am to trek to an elevation of 17,769 feet above sea level in what was one of the most memorable moments of my life. To this day it still amazes me as to how in tune we all were with each other; a connection I have yet to experience with any other humans on this planet. It was the perfect balance of togetherness and separateness, authenticity and vulnerability, and an effortless communication that went so much deeper than words.
Later that year, I met up with Brenda in southeast Asia and that magical book became mine. Like my own personal mantra, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t look to it for some kind of inspiration. Regardless as to how cliche it sounds, it seems to me that no matter which page I flip open to, the words speak directly to my heart. Perhaps my favourite quote from the book, one I share with most of the special souls that I meet and sprinkle throughout my yoga teachings, is this . . .
“Every person who has ever come to you has come to receive a gift from you. In doing so, he/she gives you a gift. The gift of you experiencing and fulfilling Who You Are. When you see this simple truth, when you understand it, you see the greatest truth of all. . .
YOU HAVE BEEN SENT NOTHING BUT ANGELS. “
Of course, some angels present themselves with brighter halos than others, and the real beauty lies in recognizing that even the most challenging of people have come to teach us something. And on the contrary, every beautiful heart that walks into our world brings with them a gift that all the money in the world could never buy.
Throughout my trip I’ve had encounters with both these types of people; those who have entered my life to cultivate profound inspiration, and those who have come to (intentionally or unknowingly) take something from me. These ‘takers’ will continue to present the hardest and most painful lessons for me in realizing that, contrary to what I may want to believe, my kindness has been mistaken for weakness. That the person or people I have placed my most sincere trust into have opted to misuse it and seize more from me than I cared to give; leaving me feeling drained, cheated, and somewhat foolish.
However, a great deal of tears and self-reflection has taught me a thing or two about how I choose to look at these interactions going forward. I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that people are only welcome to take from me as much as I’m willing to give them. And that a huge part of my own self-acceptance comes from refusing to give away all the special little pieces of myself in an effort to please anyone else. Instead, I’ll hold these parts even closer to my chest; protecting my own magic – which has proven time and time again to be the only thing I’ll ever need.
With this attitude comes tremendous amount of personal strength and self-love. How liberating it can feel to make the conscious effort to meet each and every personal struggle with the question: what is this here to teach me?
I’ve mentioned previously that I did not go to India with an expectation to have some profound spiritual experience. I initially travelled there to immerse myself in the practice of yoga and meditation, and although I was open to growth, I didn’t place weight on manifesting some kind of revolutionary transformation. And this is why it’s both ironic and beautiful that on my very last day in the country, as I found myself sitting on a dirty park bench in an polluted Mumbai park surrounded by children setting off firecrackers in a disintegrated plastic slide (one of several things about India that I will never quite feel comfortable with), I had my own personal awakening.
I couldn’t quite recognize myself or figure out how on earth I had gotten here – not the park bench, but the toxic situation surrounding it. It was like I needed to fall back down the rabbit hole and roughly hit the bottom in order to see the light. To completely ignore my intuition as it screamed at me for days so that I could, once again, be reminded how incredibly intelligent I am when I allow my heart to decide what feels right. And most importantly, I needed to surround myself with people who had absolutely no interest in my happiness so that I could recognize that contentment and bliss are attributes inside of me that cannot be found externally from anyone else.
As feelings of self-love and inner strength washed over me, I began to understand (really believe) in all the things I have spent the last year and a half writing and talking about. It’s not to say I have been lying to myself or anyone else but, for the first time, as I read my blog posts, I felt the words vibrate within my soul. Within my almost unrecognizable writings, I began to see the awe in myself; I suddenly became my own greatest teacher.
I’m still not exactly sure why, but as I sat there all alone, I somehow couldn’t help but find my recent predicament absolutely hilarious. I reminisced about every last detail of the eighteen month prior that had led me to this bench; leaving Canada fearful and without direction, learning to become independent, and then proceeding to capture and conquer my dreams (either by myself or with the help of my inspirational people). Yet, still I had somehow managed to return full circle back to the inexperienced girl that boarded the Air Canada flight in Vancouver. It was in that moment, as I laughed so hard tears streamed down my cheeks, I decided that a naive woman is not Who I Am. And just like that, I no longer required any methods to get rid of all the wrong ideas about myself . . . I simply decided to stop believing them. To see and feel myself as everything that I already Am; a beautiful being that is deserving of the all the same love I aspire to spread unto others.
After what felt like hours of sitting there like a complete lunatic laughing and crying in unison, I imagined my dearest friend saying, “it’s really not that deep”. Words she has repeated to me a thousand times before over the phone in moments of personal crisis, but somehow I just finally seemed to understand. She is (and always has been) right. For, there can be no regrets or worries in life should one choose to trust that every person, every challenge, and every triumph has been for purpose. That this on-going journey is continuing to mould me for my own greater good, and I will never be dealt more than I can handle. That there’s no such thing as wasted time or bad people, just lessons learned and angels sent. That each and every situation I’ve encountered up to this point can’t possibly be wrong, as they have all led me to exactly where I am. To right now. And now is perfectly on time.
“Be easy. Take your time. You are coming home to yourself.”