I wrote two weeks ago about sea changes, and I suspect now that the deeper, more essential Laurel had already begun to reconfigure my thinking in ways it would take a while for my conscious self to catch up with. ”There’s something going on here,” I have been telling myself, noticing this and that post over the last months that reflect glimmerings of the direction my guiding self is pointing.
Sleepless one night a few days ago, that pleasant semi-wakefulness where it is okay not to be asleep because one is so relaxed that powerful thoughts have a chance to surface, I had a rush of clarity about what I want to do with the rest of 2022. I saw that the person who committed to another full year of cruising is not the person who is now in January of that year.
The forced grounding of Covid had two stages for me, the first being in San Diego without opportunities to travel, and the second in Victoria, where Covid restrictions forced me to stay put for a year. Both were valuable experiences, because the first stretch caused me to understand that I could not see my way forward in San Diego. I had been gone so much not just because I love to travel but because, despite having deep personal ties there, I was restless and unsatisfied with my life.
The second stretch, when I moved to Victoria, unlocked thrilling opportunities for growth. Yes, I was excited when the opportunity arose to travel on my own in the Adriatic and then to resume cruising last fall, but I noted a wistfulness about leaving Victoria that surprised me. I wasn’t ready yet to stop having the experiences I was reveling in there.
Theologian Huston Smith summarized the Hindu concept of Samsara (often translated as Illusion) as a process of discovering that “we can never get enough of what we don’t really want.” Through countless forms and lifetimes, the soul comes to realize that each of the desires it has pursued has not actually led to more than fleeting happiness. The brilliance in Smith’s remark is that the only way to move beyond what we desire is to get it. Only then can we recognize it as just another illusion, another thing we thought could satisfy us, but in the end doesn’t.
I wrote previously here about how the pile-on of solo travel last fall was a bit too much, too long, too hectic, but it had to be more than I wanted in order to learn the lesson in it. Likewise cruising. I was excited about resuming it, but not giddily so, as I might have been if I hadn’t done so much of it already, but I was ready to go, and very excited about living on ships for several months. I was excited about an extended stay in the Caribbean, relaxing into a lifestyle of swimming, boating, snorkeling and perfect, beautiful sunny warmth.
Well, I got it. More than enough, as it turns out. I am so ready to be done, although I am looking forward to the last two weeks, on another ship with a different itinerary in a part of the Caribbean I have never visited. Then, home to Victoria.
Home. That is quite a statement coming from me. And here’s where the sea change is apparent. Lying awake the other night, it came to me in a flood of thought. I don’t really want what I had planned. I have had enough. The next morning I canceled my summer cruise assignment in the Mediterranean. I wrote to the lovely people who own the place I was renting in Victoria and committed to stay through the end of 2022. Stay put for a while, I told myself. Less is more. See what will emerge from this greater stillness. See what you have been missing. Release the Laurel who is struggling inside you to become who she needs to be right now. I can’t wait to go back to Victoria to meet myself.