My trip to the Southern Hemisphere has turned from two months to almost six. I am now half way through it and the last couple of weeks I have been starting to feel restless and antsy and I couldn’t figure out why. I felt guilty for feeling like I was totally adrift, in life and in New Zealand. I started to feel lonely; a castaway of her own making. I hated to admit that to myself. The holidays are coming up and I am about as far away from my friends and family as I could get. The idea of being alone so frightening that I begin to question my entire journey altogether.
To be okay with being alone, to be okay with accepting strangers hospitality has been a struggle for me. Then I am reminded of the Goby fish. The Goby slowly climbs waterfalls, against the raging torrents of water, to climb uphill, literally, against the flow, against immeasurable odds to find still water ponds in which to spawn. Struggle is something I have fought so hard against my entire life. Indeed I think our culture is cursed with wanting to choose “the easy way out” – have we forgotten the journey that nature has made for us in dealing and working through struggle? Much how you make muscle mass by tearing down the muscles and rebuilding them via protein I am finding that only through the break down, of physical, emotional, and mental tissue can I be rebuilt. The lesson seems so easy, but in reality it is hard. It has taken me almost 30 years to allow myself to be utterly torn down to be rebuilt again, rebuilt into a creature of my own authentic creation. There are many means in which people allow themselves to be torn down and rebuilt, mine is via travel.
A week ago I decided to park my car and my soul in Christchurch. I had no plans, no place to stay and I didn’t know a soul. I decided to push my boundaries even further and try couchsurfing. I am someone who likes (to put it mildly) to be in control. I despise depending on people. I am much more comfortable with being the one to give, not so much with receiving. With couchsurfing you are reliant 100% on a strangers compassion and hospitality. They give you a space in their house to sleep, cook you dinner and if you are lucky show you around their town. I was feeling lonely, and damn it I was determined to do something about it. So, to push myself out of my comfort zone and try to meet some new people I decided to sign up for a couchsurfing account.
I am happy to report that it has been a great success. I have been humbled by the sheer generosity of people. I have allowed myself to be blessed. Even if people couldn’t host me in their homes, they’ve met up with me to show me around Christchurch. This type of discovery is more rewarding than reading any guidebook. In a short amount of time, I’ve made friends, have a place to stay as long as I want, and Thanksgiving plans with fellow Americans abroad.
It is easy to get mired in the negativity of this world. The sadness and horror often cast a shadow on the light; the light of true human decency and compassion. I have discovered that we are only as lonely as we allow ourselves to be. My goal with this trip was to discover my limitations, could I handle being alone in my own skin? Could I open my heart enough not only to bless other people, but also to allow them to bless me in return? That answer is yes to both questions. I can find happiness in being alone and I am brave enough to know when I need companionship and to seek it out. I am richly rewarded in experiencing both solitude and solidarity.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt