Australian Post Script – Weekend #2

It’s a bit odd living in a post script.  And, what I mean when I say I live in a post script is that  the greater part of our Australian adventure has concluded.  We have packed up our home, moved in to a friend’s extra bedroom, and we’re living out the next six weeks of our time here from the comfort of a futon and extremely disorganized suitcases.  But, like the juiciest information in a letter is often shared in the postscript, so too does our postscript contain some real treasure.

Last weekend Rick and I went to Cooroy to bid a final farewell to our friends Heidi and Joe and bask in the aura of their dream lifestyle.  They recently made the choice to follow their passions and left Brisbane to buy an amazing, self-sustaining property in the hills outside Noosa.  They opened a yoga studio, mediation centre, and ayurvedic clinic where they work together, alongside their new puppy Shakti.  They are getting married in October, just two weekends before Rick and me – so it’s fun to compare notes.  Our weddings will be quite different I think!  They fed us mulled wine, lemon butter, and sourdough bread until we could eat no more, and sent us on our way with half the citrus in their orchard.  It was such a beautiful weekend; a huge bonfire, great conversation, puppy snuggles, a great yoga practice (while Rick surfed), and some time to enjoy each other’s company.  I couldn’t have come up with a better way to spend one of our precious postscript weekends.

Well, there is one way that might be better – or at least comparably good.  And, that’s what we have planned for this weekend.  Tomorrow, I have a three-hour spa session that my mom got me as a 30th birthday present.  I had been saving until it no longer made sense to save it – NOW!  So, I am taking off Friday, going for a luxurious morning at the spa, and then spending the remainder of the weekend (and Monday!) in the company of some lovely friends on Stradbroke Island where we have plans to whale watch, cook, and generally having a blast!  I went whale watching several years ago in Alaska, but whales have long been one of my favorite creatures and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do it again.

It feels good to be in this postscript mental space I am right now.  We are (thankfully) mentally present for these last weeks in Australia because we have most of our wedding details sorted out – at least for the time being.  So many friends and family have stepped to the plate to sing, conduct our ceremony, coordinate various wedding details, throw showers, give tours of Milwaukee sights, and generally help out.  I always knew I wanted my wedding to be a  community affair, but little did I know how much I’d actually NEED it to be.  I have been amazed at the enthusiasm and dedication of my friends and family, particularly my amazing parents who are helping with so much of the planning AND doing a throwback to their wedding and literally wearing what they got married in over 30 years ago (which actually is perfect considering we’re using almost the same colors and my dad wore a nice coat and my mom wore a beautiful women’s suit and not an actual wedding dress.)

I love the way things are shaping up for both the wedding and the time on either side of it.  I have had several talks with Heidi (above) about how in pursuing one’s dreams and their dharma the path opens up before them with each step; for Heidi that was moving to the hills with Joe and living off the land. For me it was everything that has come to be with Rick and me.  From our fortuitous meeting while I was still in another relationship, to our subsequent meetings after, to our courtship, our move to Australia, the dramas that came with it that strengthened our bond, our engagement, and to our decisions to move home and make massive career and lifestyle changes.  It feels as though each new opportunity presents itself when it should and when we have the means to make the best of it.

Last week I finished writing up the answers to some questions that were asked of us by the friend who is doing our wedding ceremony.  They were simple questions, but knowing he would take the answers and use them to help shape his words made me give strong consideration to my answers.    I recognized in my answers the lessons of several challenging years coming to roost as I emphasized our partnership, our shared joy in the successes and passions of the other person, our mutual desire to foster each other’s strengths and support their weaknesses, to truly face the world with a united front, and commit fully to our partnership through the obstacles and challenges we will unquestionably face.  It’s true that passion can be the spark of love, but it’s commitment that leads to the most meaningful intimacy.   And with Rick, commitment which always felt so hard to embrace for me, barely feels like a choice.  Rather, it reminds me of whitewater canoeing – you can ferry yourself, stressed and neurotic, around and above obstacles, constantly fighting a current which will take you to ruin on obstacles downstream.  But if you put yourself in the proper channel you can release yourself to the current with little fight or need to direct yourself and you can gracefully navigate the myriad challenges that surround you. My relationship with Rick feels like this.  It’s not a constant struggle to avoid ruin (even if the struggle was invigorating and exciting), it’s graceful and effortless – and it looks damn good.

I have always used rivers as metaphors in my relationships, and this is no exception. I feel so lucky to have Rick – my amazing fiance, friend, and co-pilot through rapids, and anything else we’re faced with.

Yeah, so in short postscript life ls pretty amazing. So good – life is just, plumb incredible.

The Edge

My blogging here, began with a goal to explore my relationships and emotions through my experiences in the natural world; a fitting lens through which to gaze, as it so markedly shapes my outlook.  But I’ve struggled with it!

Oddly, I have found that though my life in Brisbane takes place outside proportionately more than my life most other places has, I feel a shortage of reflective time to think on the world I move through each day. I’ve suffered a bit of writer’s block in the last few months. I’m not sure if the block was due to lack of time, lack of inward reflection, or the simple fact that I’m just happy.

I once interned with a former stand-up comedian during college.  When I asked him why he no longer did stand-up, he told me it was because he was finally happy.  I wondered at first if he was joking – an ironic answer to make me laugh and maybe see if he still had it – but he wasn’t.

Perhaps the creative muse lives, for many of us, in the seat of discontent.  I know mine has at times.  Why do people ponder their lives, their partners, their direction, if not a gnawing seed of unsettledness?  And isn’t that pondering at the root of creativity?  It seems to me to be.  But then I have been known to paint beautiful things only to cover them in black paint because I prefered its texture.  I’m a weirdo and it’s possible I have a dysfunctional muse.

That being said, I felt inspiration to write for the first time in months last weekend – and it came from something other than discontent.  I took my sisters up to northern Queensland to the city of Cairns for a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and to see the Daintree forest.  We spent the day on a small sailboat and swam with some beautiful reef sharks and sea turtles.  It was a bit choppy so the water wasn’t perfect, but I love the ocean and the chance to swim with creatures that never cross my path for want of feet.  It calms me to undulate with the movements of the water around me and offer myself up to a universe where I’m at the mercy of so many things beyond my control.  It seems to appropriately align the world – at least to my view.  I could spend my life in the water without complaint.

We had motored out to the reef in the morning, but as the afternoon drew to a close we clambered back into the boat and put it under sail for the ride home.  Now, I haven’t done a lot of sailing, but I am not a total novice either.  I raced a legitimate regatta on Lake Michigan once, and I had the bruises to show for it for weeks. After last weekend though, I wish it was a bigger part of my life because when the wind bowed the sails, and our masts leaned against its force I felt unchained.  My hips rolled with the boat into the swells and my body let go in a way I have felt in only a few other contexts; tearing down a powder run, riding my bike fast down the mountains of Colorado, and paddling big waves in a canoe.

On the Ocean Free

Maybe it’s the speed or the wind in my face that lights me up, but the feeling is as if my body is filling up with honey; pure bliss seeping through me with slow, gooey, goodness.  I say honey both for the fact that it feels like it creeps out from my core to my fingers with this languid viscousness that quells any mental chatter.  And because it sticks. You can call the feeling up after the fact and bask in the glow of it.  You’re in the right place, you’re flying,  you’re not scared, you’re on the edge – and loving it. I’ve heard the feeling referred to as flow.

It’s in those moments that I feel like a conduit between the world below me and something bigger. At those moments I’ve tapped into the source.  It’s a high like no other.

Lately I’ve been dancing with the edge of this sensation on a near-daily basis. I wish I could share it with the people around me because it feels so damn good.  I think I’ve been able to access it through a combination of a lot of yoga and the work I’ve been doing with my friend and ayurvedic doctor who is helping me to work with my diet to regulate my inflammation and moods.  I don’t really know what is happening, but I’m sticking by it.  I feel too good not to.

I have a sense of mental calm that I’ve never really experienced in any sort of sustained way before.  It’s like I’m accessing a better version of me, and one that I was keeping under wraps for a long, long time.  I realize I sound like a new age hippy and I don’t mind if you laugh at me for this post. Whatever. I will do weird breathing exercises and eat dirt twice a day if I can continue to feel awesome indefinitely.

But seriously, I feel so good that I worry I may become a happy jerk. You know the type. The person whose rose-colored glasses make you want to shoot them?  I’ve encountered the type before and I have come close to pulling the trigger on them.  I mean, who do they think they are with their preachy radiance and tranquility?

Sadly, I think I pulled a happy jerk move just recently trying to share my experience with someone who wasn’t open to it for various reasons.  Long story.  Needless to say, I think it exhibited a lack of compassion on my part, and I need to watch my predisposition to be the uncompassionate happy jerk.

I don’t know. In times of great joy I think it’s worthwhile to remind yourself of the fleetingness of the feelings we experience. Which is, I guess , why it’s so tempting to overshare one’s jubilance.  I’m going to work on just observing the feelings and being happy with the little slice of world before me.  Like sadness, these feelings are just waves we each ride.  Take it as long as you can ride it and hope more comes your way.  I’m riding this wave for all that I can.   I feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin, and goddamn, it’s amazing.

(P.S. I realize that in the very act of posting this I may be jinxing this.  But it’s still worth sharing.)