Archives for posts with tag: Travel

2018-08_ignorance

I pick up the phone. It’s my mum.
“What was the animal we saw at Yosemite?” she asks me.
“A bobcat.”
“Oh! I’ve been telling people it was a mountain lion.”
“Mum! A mountain lion is your size. The bobcat is a little bigger than Sophie.” (Sophie is my cat-sized Boston Terrier.)
Mum laughs and goes on to tell me that there was a fire at Yosemite and that the south entrance is closed indefinitely. I worry about the bobcats, the deer and the squirrels. I hope they made it somewhere safe.

For two weeks at the end of June into the first week of July, we had an adventure. This wasn’t a small thing because my mum lives in Adelaide in the appropriately named state of South Australia and I live in New Jersey on the East Coast of the United States. Mum plays table tennis. She’s been playing my whole life at least. Now in her early 70s she plays “Veteran’s Table Tennis”. She even has a gold medal for women’s doubles. This year the World Veteran’s Table Tennis Tournament was in Las Vegas. Her plan was to rent an RV (How did I feel about driving it?) to see The Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Yosemite. When mum told me about the tournament and her idea for the trip, I said, “yes” because 1) in the grand scheme of life we don’t spend that much time together, and 2) it would be a rare thing for me to say, “no” to a trip. That said, aside from helping book a campsite here and there, I neither physically nor mentally prepared for the trip.

Leading up to the trip, when I told people about it, they either projected their own mother-daughter relationship onto mine by saying, “Wow! How do you feel about spending that much time with your mother?” Or, “Wow! Have you ever driven an RV before?” As for #1, not to say my inner ratbag (brat) didn’t come out on occasion, but for the most part, the spending-time-with-mum part was easy. Over the years, we have moved through the apparently necessary mother-daughter angst to arrive at a loving relationship of appreciation and admiration. Mum is a good travel companion. Patient, funny and easy going. As for #2, the reality of living in and driving an RV through Nevada, Arizona and California didn’t reveal itself until I was actually driving the thing. (Mum forgot her passport at pick-up so I was the allocated driver) It was a 22 footer. It was an unwieldy creature and even with the power steering, it felt like I was at the helm of a horse-drawn carriage on a cobbled-stone road. It took a little while to get used to its dimensions. As soon as I started to get comfortable, I scraped the driver’s rear side at the gas station on one of the barriers that protects the pumps from a run-away car. Part of the corner frame bent out at an angle and off popped the reflector. Whoops!*

Still.

America is a stunning country and it is a very special thing to be able to drive through it with a quiet confidence because you can stop wherever you want knowing you are carrying a toilet on your back. We exhaled into the immensity of the Grand Canyon, we inhaled into the depth of Glen Canyon, saw the spectacular feat of Hoover Dam in 120F (48C) that wicked the moisture right out of your eyes, we bathed in the surprise oasis of Lake Mohave, we gaped at the intrigue of extra-terrestrial-esque solar panels standing like sentry over a tiny town called Nipton right at the edge of the Mojave Desert, and we remained captivated by the constant change of the rock, hills and valleys that let us drive through them mile after mile, minute by minute.

It took us a while to get the hang of the RV -to get the fridge working, the water pump going, hot water, the air-conditioner working and even sometimes the heater. We never figured out the shower, but luckily for us, for the first half of the trip, my friend Dawn from my San Francisco days along with her husband joined us and we were able to take cheeky evening showers in their lodgings.

2018-08_GlenCanyon

We spent the last (stinking hot) day (115F/46C) together floating down the Colorado River in the gorge of Glen Canyon. It was so hot our clothes dried in minutes after wading into the comparatively freezing water (44F/7C). I had the thought, “had someone said, ‘hey, let’s spend a stinking hot 46C day in the blazing sun on water too cold to comfortably swim in, what say you?’ I would have said, “erm, no, thanks!” Luckily, I had no such someone. It was spectacular. In addition to being in the belly of a canyon and seeing history in the rock -the earth dating back to 280 to 70 million years, we got to see wild horses, a bighorn sheep and petroglyphs estimated to be 1000 to 8000 years old.

The next day, we left the canyon and entered a world of plains dotted with movie-set oases on straight roads that made it impossible to guess the distance.
“How far do you guess it is, mum, from here to there?” “There” being as far as the eye could see along an impressively straight road.
“Fifteen kilometers” Mum ventured. “Eight or ten miles” I’d say. We tried our best to translate miles into kilometers and kilometers into miles. We’d watch the odometer. Twenty five miles!

Depleted salt lake beds lay at the foot of the ever-steepening and winding road that coaxed us into the Sierra Nevada mountains and then into Yosemite National Park proper. Thankfully, nothing had prepared us for the narrow, shoulderless road, the hairpin bends, and the sheer slab of rock to the left, ravine to the right.

Ratbag Moment on Rte 120 from the Tioga Pass Entrance to Crane Flat Campsite:
“Mum! Take a photo!”
“I can’t right now, dear.”
“Shall we pull over at the next pull out so we can stop and take one?”
“No, let’s just keep going.”
“Mum! Please! Get your tablet and take a photo. It’s so beautiful.”
“Darling! I can’t!”

Repeat.

The road was too hairpin, the lanes too narrow, the hair too raised on the back of the neck and the belly too queasy to think about taking a photo. My poor mum. I felt myself getting exasperated, but I had to admit it was hairy. Going only 25 miles an hour felt like I was going 45.

After being shut down from yet another willful effort to get my mum to take a photo of the awesomeness around us, in response to mum’s nervousness, I checked that I was within the yellow line and reaffirmed my grip on the steering wheel. Large vehicles, bigger and bulkier even than us, seemed inappropriate on this road. Tioga Pass belonged to hatchbacks and compact sedans, maybe a CRV, but not a regular-sized garbage truck, granddaddy Winnebago’s, nor even our 22 footer. And then, WHAM! The reaching arm of a granddaddy Winnebago’s side mirror loudly and unceremoniously clipped ours smashing it against the driver’s side window. I had seen that Winnebago coming and even had time to think the thought, “that vehicle has no business being on this road!”

“Are you ok, mum?” Knowing that she was, but concerned for her nerves.
“Yes, I’m ok. It was just a shock.”
“The Winnebago was too close to the yellow line!”
I wound down the driver’s window and pushed the side mirror back out. It was completely shattered. There was nothing to do but keep going. Nowhere to pullover.

Driving without a functioning side mirror is hard when you don’t have a rearview mirror to begin with. Luckily, there was a rearview camera that we could turn on to see what was driving behind us. There was no more discussion about taking photos after that. Our sole mission was to get to Crane Flat campsite, which we did to our shared sigh of relief.

2018-08_RV

That evening we saw on the map that there was a garage in Yosemite Village in the valley. Even though it was Sunday, when we called the next morning, we were grateful to learn they were open. Later, to spare mum the 16 miles back up to Crane Flat, I  tentatively suggested that instead of staying a second night at Yosemite, we head to Dawn’s place in Petaluma instead. Dawn and her husband’s parting words to us at the Grand Canyon were, “If you want to tap out, you can always come to our place.” So after a morning visiting Yosemite Falls where we had the luck of the aforementioned bobcat siting as it slinked across our path, then a visit to the garage to get the mirror haphazardly fixed, we made our way out of Yosemite, out of Sierra Nevada to the rolling hills of Californian wine country.

“The funny thing is”, I ventured as hairpin eventually became a gentle winding, “had someone said, “This is what it’s like to live in an RV for a week, and this is what the roads would be like and this is how hot it will be and cold sometimes”, there is no way I would have said, “yes” to something like this.”
Mum admitted she would have made different choices.
But we didn’t know.
We were the effect of a bigger idea. An idea ignorant and indifferent to our human worries and fears. The bigger idea wanted us to experience the bigness of nature, its extremes, its unapologetic magnificence and diversity. For this I was so grateful.
“I’m so thankful, mum, that I didn’t know because I would have stopped myself from having this amazing experience with you.”

Ignorance is a gift.

How often do we try to protect ourselves from the unknown by preparing, researching, and investigating so that we can decide what we want to do, what would be “good” for us? But what if what we want to do, what we think is “good” for us, keeps us safe and small? What if ignorance is the gift that propels us into the unknown, into expansion and the kind of good stress that has us thriving instead of just getting by?

Studies show that we are happiest when we are slightly challenged and when the challenges draw out our strengths. Judith LeFevere found in her 1988 study that when she surveyed people at work doing interesting, challenging jobs where their skills were a good fit, they were happier working than when surveyed at low-challenge leisure when they reported feeling bored and apathetic. This is interesting because generally, we think we are happier when at leisure. Consistently, studies show that unless the leisure is challenging and utilizing our skills, this is just not true.

Author of the book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says;

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

The RV trip was mum’s idea. Not mine. I would not have thought of such a trip and had I thought of it, I would have dismissed it. Mainly because I don’t like camping. I said “yes” because I wanted to spend time with my mum and I am curious to explore new places. I said yes, because I had no idea what to expect. Ignorance is the gift that gently nudges us into new situations, places and people giving us not only opportunities to use our gifts, gifts that may have been dormant in our dogged attempt to keep ourselves safe by staying the same, but also for Life to offer its gifts to us; the best burger you have ever eaten,  unsuspecting connections and conversations with fellow travelers, a bobcat sighting, the jaw-dropping magnificence of this Earth in its natural state of grace, and so much more.

The good thing about ignorance is that it is inherently expectation free. Spiritual texts remind us that expectations are only ever a recipe for suffering. Isn’t it more true that life rarely goes the way we plan, want or expect? What happens when it doesn’t? Do we get excited at the opportunity, or do we get disappointed and upset? But notice how Life in all its happening includes the wanted and the unwanted equally. It doesn’t care what you think about it. It just gives you what it gives you, which in that moment is what you need apparently. It may not be what you personally want, but somehow, if the experience is here, it’s needed and it’s an opportunity to expand, grow, learn, adapt, love, play, laugh.

ignorant (adj.)

in – “not, opposite of”
gnarus – Old Latin “aware, acquainted with” / gno-ro – Proto-Latin “to know”
Meaning: Not knowing

 

If ignorance means “not knowing”, then its opposite is “to know”. If we look closely, we’ll discover that our ignorance invites knowledge. The basis of many eastern healing and martial arts is to “Know Thyself”. Paradoxically, the only way to “know thyself” is with the no mind (not knowing). Ignorance can act like the no mind because it is unaware, innocent even. Ignorant to the treachery of a journey, the challenges of the new job, the quirks of the personality in a new relationship, the “best” way to a new destination, can keep us present to the flow of life.  When we are in the flow, we are aware. When we are aware we gain knowledge and new experience. We expand and grow, which is our purpose here.

So let’s reframe the word, “ignorance” as an opportunity to become that which we were destined to be, where Knowledge, self-knowledge is the path to happiness.

Love as Life is a miracle that teaches wisdom, grace, generosity and peace.

 

To Your Freedom, With Love,

💕

Andrea

*Both were fixed by the end of the trip. A helpful fellow RVer banged the corner back into place, and when we got to Petaluma, Dawn’s husband super-glued the reflector back on.


 

Join me for my 4-session Know Thyself 2018 Summer Series held at the Elila Center for Natural Healing in Berkeley Heights.

Or, to identify and shift limiting beliefs, consider a one-on-one session. Sessions can be in-person if you are local to New Jersey, USA, or via Skype if you are elsewhere. You may also wish to consider learning a natural healing art such as Reiki as a method of self-care. In the second level (degree) of Reiki, breakthrough limiting beliefs to clear the environment for creation and manifestation.

Email Andrea at info@andreagrace.com, or call: 908-271-6670 x 1. You may need to leave a message. I will return your call within 48 hours unless I am traveling.

Andrea with Hatice Bese

Wherever I go, there I am.

After 12-hours of sitting in a seat, hurtling at however many miles an hour above the clouds through the sky, here I am. As if I never left. Nothing is really different, is it? A floor to stand on, a chair to sit in, a ceiling above my head, people around me, conversation, food and sleep.

The plane lands. My body goes from sitting to standing. And still there is the ground beneath my feet, a ceiling above my head, people around me, friends to greet me, conversation and food, and a Starbucks chair to sit in.

I am here in Turkey.