It’s been two and a half years since I’ve written. My DSLR has been gathering dust. I haven’t been creative in the sense that there’s nothing to show for that time. I’ve been introspective. I’ve spent that time absorbing everything instead of finding ways to step outside myself in a tangible, tactile way that others can see. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve evolved and moved through different versions of myself but its all been an internal metamorphosis. There’s no external proof of these changes. Nothing to chronicle them or provide a record of those journeys. Those memories are mine but can be conjured and relived and played like a montage of key moments on my mind’s movie screen.
The past week I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and giving my mind a space to stretch and bend in unfamiliar ways with new information and methods of thinking. I’ve been analyzing my thought processes and how I act and interact with feelings and thoughts and how that ultimately sets the stage for my mood, my energy and my interactions with others.
The point of this introspective process is to ideally gain some freedom from unhealthy thought patterns, negative self-talk and not confronting past hurts but just giving myself the gift of letting them go without a need to revisit every finite detail.
All of this inward investigation has made me inquire of myself not what freedom is but what freedom feels like to me. I sat quietly in contemplation asking myself when have I felt the happiest and without a care in the world? When have I felt nothing but pure joy in my heart and worn a smile I could not erase from my face no matter how adamantly I tried?
There are easy and quick memories that race to the forefront of course. Meeting my husband for the first time. Our wedding day. Finding out we were expecting both boys. Their births. All of those memories are filled with indescribable happiness.
But they don’t speak to freedom. I contemplated further. What are the moments in my life that spoke only to me without any ties to anyone else’s feelings or experiences or expectations? What moments have I felt the freedom to be completely engrossed in my own experience to the point I felt like I was the only person in the world in those moments? There are three that stand out in my mind.
The first was when I was 17 years old. I was on a school trip over March Break with my high school and we spent 10 days in London, England. It was my first trip away from home without my family and as luck would have it I ended up with laryngitis. One particular day had been set aside for shopping but I decided to hang back at the hotel and said I would head out by myself later on if I felt up to it. Looking back it was probably one of the stupidest things I could have done but hey, I survived. I decided to go all the way to Carnaby Street by myself. In a city of 6.4 MILLION people. I remember the sheer euphoria of being 17 years old and in the middle of London and thinking that nobody on the Earth knew where I was in that very moment. No one. That sense of freedom was unmatched to that point.
The second instance was a few years ago sitting at the base of the lighthouse in Ferryland, Newfoundland. It is my favourite place in the entire world. It is my grounding spot, my beacon of contentment, my soul’s home. I have never felt more at home than sitting on the concrete base that the lighthouse sits on. I stare out at the ocean and the coastline and listen to the waves crashing below and all is right with the world. I have been there many times but on this particular occasion I was gifted almost a full hour of complete solitude at the lighthouse. Just me and the lighthouse. I can’t even put into words how full my heart was. It was like plugging in a dead battery and it instantly being fully charged. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I am so content there. It brings me peace like no other place in the world. It is the place I return to when I need to recharge my soul. The wind in my hair, the salt on my lips, the dragonflies darting through the sky around me. It is where I feel most free.
The third instance occurred on a trip to Jamaica in 2015. We had begun climbing Dunn’s River Falls with our group and about 10 minutes into the climb I fell over a huge boulder in the river bed and hurt my entire right shin. It was incredibly painful. Rather than impact the rest of the group I opted to sit out the rest of the climb and settled onto a flat submerged rock in the river. Within minutes I realized what a gift I had been given. I sat there completely alone in the middle of the cool running water of the river as it splashed down over rocks in mini waterfalls and looked up to see beams of sunlight pouring down through the lush tropical canopy. Butterflies danced in the air above me and I realized how energized and content I felt sitting there experiencing this tranquil moment. I felt free of all thoughts, all burdens had dissipated and everything about my mind, body and soul felt harmonious. I sat in that spot for well over an hour. It was a feeling I’ll never forget.
The next challenge I have will be to figure out what about those places I can harness or conjure in my heart and mind to allow me to feel that sense of freedom, euphoria and contentment without physically being there in person. The common thread in all of the scenarios is me. It goes beyond imagining I’m in those “happy places” by pretending I’m there virtually. They are a state of mind. A state of contentment. In those moments nothing else mattered or was of any consequence because the joy I was feeling overrode every other thought. My mind was completely free of any worry, doubt, fear or negativity in those moments.
How did I get to that mind Nirvana? I’m interested in going on a treasure hunt.