It's 1:06 am on Thursday morning and I am sitting at the countertop of my kitchen in the dark. I'm wide awake. Maybe it's the jet lag (seriously, it's no joke!) or maybe it's just my soul's need to process the last ten days of my life. On October 25th I grieved the death of my husband, hard. It was the 2.5 year mark of his passing from colon cancer at the ripe age of 33 years old. Time somehow keeps marching on despite my protest.
The next day, I left my house at 3:00 am to go on an adventure half way around the world. A journey that would require courage, bravery and surrendering to the unknown. This was a trip that I was not entirely sure I was capable of making because I had hit a new low. Broken, afraid and unsure of anything, I counted down the days until I was scheduled to depart. I held my breath, unsure if the vacation that I had been planning to attend for months would come to fruition as my son fell ill just two nights before I was suppose to go. However, my mother, mother in law, sister in law and son's doctor refused to let me cancel my much needed “mama break”. Hesitantly, I obliged and began my 28 hour travel plan to Bangkok, Thailand.
Two hours into writing on the plane, my thoughts were interrupted by the passenger seated next to me, Miguel, a middle aged man from Mexico. He was curious about my work as he noted that he could tell that it was not an analytical document but rather one where my soul was writing through me. I was stopped in my tracks by his observation and shared some of my story with him. We are two individuals living in two different countries who coincidentally were seated next to each other on a large aircraft. However, the wisdom he shared with me did not seem accidental in the slightest.
Miguel started with first telling me, a stranger, how proud he was of me for making this journey. Then he went on to emphasize the benefit and need for each being on this planet to travel on a cognitively, physically and spiritually level. He reminded my spirit of the importance of taking a break from our lives (no matter where we are) to see how others experience this same world. He emphasized how taking time to experience the way others live; from language, to food, to cultural norms, religious beliefs, socio economic status, to water accessibility and even plumbing methods helps to give you great perspective, gratitude and also humbles you back to the human being that you are. This was just the conversation I needed to open my heart to the unknown of the next 10 days.
Suddenly, I found myself sitting in the Hong Kong airport receiving a text message that felt like I was living a nightmare. My friends, who I was planning to meet at the Bangkok airport, had their plane canceled. They were not arriving until the following day. Brian instructed me to find a taxi to the hotel in Bangkok when I arrived at 1 am. Then I would meet him and Rodney back at the airport at 10 am to catch our next flight to Chiang Mai. I looked at my phone and took a deep breath. Four years ago I would have received this text and quickly retreated to the bathroom to cry because I was scared out of my mind. But today, I got the change of plans and took a deep breath. I remembered Miguel's wisdom and that I was capable of doing anything. I did not cry nor did I panic, instead I ate the best Chinese food I have ever eaten (which is probably not saying much since it is airport food but WOW) and kept moving forward.
The next morning , I successfully navigated myself from the hotel back to the airport to meet up with my friends. We jumped on a plane and traveled to one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen before let alone stayed at (think MTV cribs circa 2008). Then we went on an adventure that was absolutely magical. We met seven elephants who were rescued from the circus and forced labor logging cruelty. Like me, each elephant had a story of pain. Through loving caregivers, they were healing with constant care and love.
Together we fed them bananas and went on a hike with three elephants (one baby male and two adult female elephants). As I walked side by side with these enormous beings I was surprised at their consideration of their surroundings (like me!), their ability to walk down narrow pathways and their love for water (also like me!). Suddenly, as I found myself in between two giant elephants giving them a bath in a lake I realized that I trusted them. Call me naive if you will, but as I held my hand on one elephant to let her know I was there, while scrubbing an other elephant, I realized we were just mammals together in unison. We were sharing in the earth's beauty, while being fully present in this moment. It was sheer magic!
Two days later we found ourselves on a giant wooden boat with long motors that propelled us forward into a beauty that even photographs don't seem to capture. We stopped ashore on a white sand beach from the crystal clear blue sea with giant rock formations that surrounded us on the island of Krabi, Thailand. There we waited in the beautiful water, snorkeled, watched the most beautiful sunsets and were entertained by the tribe of monkeys jumping in the trees. An experience that is documented in movies, not one that you think you would ever dream to experience in real life.
We then found ourselves back in Bangkok with a group of our friends. There we explored temples, walked markets, rode in Tuk Tuks and witnessed those brave enough to eat exotic food. Then early Sunday morning we meditated with monks as they blessed the unity of our friends, as they were wed in front of their family and friends. It was an honor to be apart of such a beautiful event and to witness life events celebrated outside of our American culture.
Miguel was right! In life we often get stuck in our own ways of being. It is not bad or good it just is. However, when you are taken outside of your comfort zone and take in the different ways of being on this earth something shifts. Suddenly, a commonality occurs, in that we are all beings here experiencing this life together. The bravery to explore can lead to an experience of a life time! On this trip of my life time, to Live Moore is to feel small next to giant elephants, to reestablish my place on earth as a mammal, witness the beauty of this planet, celebrate love/friendship and to remember that even through the pain of losing my best friend I am still courageous.
Live Moore, because you are too!