Road Trips Are for Getting to Know Yourself

Cheap coffee, pristine views, and the road. The road that goes on and on... And so it lulls us into a state of blissful calm and philosophical contemplation. Introspection and exploration.

This road trip didn't go as planned. And that is not a problem but a fact of life.
I love road trips because they take you out of your habitual patterns and allow you to learn about yourself and others in drastically different circumstances: away from home, sharing long hours in the car, getting lost and found in new cities...

If it wasn't for the road trip, the discovery of who you are (or a little better understanding of it), the experience of yourself in a new situation, and the fleeting new glimpses into others faced with new circumstances would not have been so easily accessible. It is a gift - one with a price (or so it has been for me), but with a wealth that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Revelation of yourself and others, realization of certain truths, discovery and novelty that have attracted the human mind long before history was written are all here on the road, free for the taking. We are the discoverers, the truth-seekers, the dreamers and the wanderers.

But poetry aside, this particular road trip turned into an experience we did not seek to find. To put it bluntly, when our car was broken into and all my clothes packed neatly in a large suitcase were gone along with 2 sets of Anton's skis, we faced a challenge - both logistical (for him) and emotional (for me).

I'm not going to get into the details of what happened, but instead just share the key profound moments that produced a shift. When what happened had finally synced-in, I found myself crying in the middle of a shopping center, contemplating how I got here (reflecting globally on my life) and why it all happened the way it did. I was overcome with emotions, and not the best ones: regret, self-pity, shame, disappointment. I felt sorry for myself and to myself, sorry about where I am, sorry about how I got there and sorry that I disappointed myself. (more below)

Anton did most of the driving

Anton did most of the driving

Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

The gems of Utah (somewhere near Salt Lake City). This moment took me back to my childhood and reminded me of my eternal love for these creatures. 

The gems of Utah (somewhere near Salt Lake City). This moment took me back to my childhood and reminded me of my eternal love for these creatures. 

Between Nevada, Utah and Idaho

Between Nevada, Utah and Idaho

Now, you may think it doesn't make sense to feel these things considering the incident was random and unrelated to my actions. Yes, that's true. But my creative mind loves to make connections, to generalize details into greater truths, to connect the dots, and so I look for patterns, messages, greater themes, and ultimately, for opportunities to instigate inner and outer change. When something throws you out of your status quo, it becomes an opportunity to profoundly change something within yourself and adjust the course of your life. So I took this opportunity to reflect truthfully and deeply on the greater picture of how I felt about myself and my life, and I let myself experience everything that came up to the surface. 

Feeling this fully and allowing the emotions to penetrate my being, it took just a few minutes of deep, raw, untaimed emotions for me to decide to move on. Along with deciding to move on, I decided that I'll figure this out. I'll get up and go forward from here. I decided to listen to my heart more, and to make more sound decisions. I decided to try harder, live truer, and be more loving, more giving and more authentic with myself first and foremost. I decided to grow up a little more and take full responsibility for myself and my actions. I decided to take back my power.

And so the bottom line is, everything is good when it comes to personal growth and self-development. Every challenge is fertile ground for this personal work. Life is full of riches - both tangible and intangible ones. It is full of surprises, twists and turns. It is full of lessons and philosophical gems. It is ever-inspiring, challenging, stimulating. It's our choice whether to give up under the external pressures of life or to participate more fully and passionately in it instead.

And when unexpected things happen, we can put it to good use - experience the emotions full force and feel alive in our human skin, analyze and learn, make a plan for something different, adjust our strategy, and start walking. One step at a time, keep your new destination in mind, and keep driving that car of your own life to better places and beautiful new destinations!

The Cold Hard Truth

We're so concerned with how we are perceived that we risk losing the skill of being authentic and truthful in what we say. We're so used to seeing others fake it too, that when we feel raw honesty, we don't always know what to do with it. Sometimes we get scared of it so we point our finger and invalidate someone's authenticity, we turn away from someone's truth because it's not what we're comfortable with facing. It goes against our normal brain patterns of seeing things in pretty colors with a wrapping of humor around it and a pretty bow of sex appeal with a whiff of prestige.

It's easy to give-in to the lie - the cotton candy fairy-tale of people's self-presentations. It's easy to accept what we are shown as truth and to accept this fluorescent view of reality. If we are lazy, that's all we see because it's right in front of us. And we can close our eyes on not-so-pleasant things. But if we're not lazy, if we venture out into the unknown and decide to see behind the curtains of this performance, we can realize rather quickly how sad and ugly the truth can be and often is. We can see more than people's curated gems of info and personal life story that they choose to share with the world.

No, I get it. We're all human monkeys that want to survive, to be socially accepted, and so it's important to publicly display why we fit into society, why we should be accepted, loved and wanted. I get that, and I'm not arguing that we should deny our instincts their right to be. I'm only asking that we look beyond them into the unknown. That we accept that the truth is the 80% of the iceberg which we just don't get to see unless we dig deep and actually give a damn and get to know people under the skin. It's deep under the thin crust of what's visible on the surface that is worth looking at if we dare to know the truth. I'm just asking to stop for a moment each time we remember and to appreciate the vast world that is unknown. To put our judgments and opinions on pause and instead look the other way - the uncommon direction. Look away from our instinctual thoughts and judgments in the opposite direction of what's unlikely. To appreciate and validate the existence of the unknown. To accept our limitations in perceiving the truth. To imagine what things could really be like... Different from what we see, from what we are told and shown. Sometimes drastically opposite. 

It's easier to live a lie. Not easy, but easier than to face the hard cold truth and feel it whip you in the face like a cold wet branch in the forest on a rainy night. We don't want to be vulnerable. We don't want to feel pain, nobody does. So we put on the layers of fake attributes that we neither own nor value, to create an illusion of everything being okay. Dressed warm in this, we go out into the world. And we can even be comfortable. But when we come home at night, we must undress ourselves and face the truth of who we are, the truth of our state, of the state of our life and how we truly feel. We can only pretend for so long. 

If you are feeling lonely at night once you've undressed yourself from the fancy lies and beautiful disguises covering up who you are and where you're at in life, then know that you're not alone. In fact, it's where many of us are, a lot of the times. We all fake it to a degree. Some more, some less. But to be happy is to go through the cold dark forest of your inner demons and to come out the other side. To be happy is to survive meeting yourself in that forest and facing your ugliness, facing the fear of seeing your true self, coming close to the sleeping beast, waking it up and not running away when it starts to roar. To face it and instead of running away, to hear it out. To hear the sobs and the angry yells and the suppressed emotions that you weren't allowed to feel. To face it all and to say yes to it. Because human experience is not just sugar, treats and pretty things. It's also pain and work and ugly truth sometimes. It's in this utter acceptance of our humanness that we have a chance at finding a string of true beauty and divine happiness. 

Divine. Happiness.