All the anticipation and sleepless nights of the weeks leading up to this one, came crashing down on me on a dark, rainy day, fueled by a Mexican chocolate ice cream sandwich induced sugar coma. By 2pm, sleep was the only thing that could be done with any degree of efficiency.
When I awoke two hours later, I realized that at no time in my adult life had I actually listened to my body on a rainy day and curled up under the covers for sleep. Jet lag, sleep deprivation and sugar were certainly catalysts, but the sound of raindrops hitting the window panes above the bed where I lay, yet again, proved to be the sweet melody to sing me to sleep. I allowed my body to go with the desire and I slept deeply, soundly. Normally, naps so long have been the death of my productivity, waking up in a haze of disorientation and sluggishness for the remainder of the day. This day was no exception. And several hours later, I would return to bed to pick up where I left off. But when I woke up yesterday, after all that rest that my body and mind cried out for, the reward was well worth it.
My mind was fully awake for the first time since arriving days ago, my eyes wide to accept in everything it saw. The sky was bright blue, the sun warm, drying out yesterday’s rainy world. While the rest of the house continued to sleep, I soaked in the quiet solitude, with only the sound of cars passing by as evidence that life was happening outside. I peered out the sunroom window, to the distant San Francisco Bay, sun dancing on the water, and drew inspiration by the beauty to put my thoughts down. I knew that the day was going to be full of opportunity – and a big bowl of steaming ramen would end cap the day perfectly. But the thought that I had the freedom – and finally took it – to listen to my body and nurture it the way it needed me to kept coming back to me.
Why don’t we take care of ourselves? Why don’t we listen to our bodies? What stops us from having an idea about something that would make us happy and following through with it? Why is a nap, or an 8-hour night’s sleep looked down upon? Like we’re slackers if we make time in our lives to listen to our bodies. There are many countries around the world, where time is built into the day for rest. Why are we so quick to snuff out our own dreams – quiet our inner voice, the one that tells us what we REALLY need and want?
When I was a child, I had no limitations. I would rise with the sun on Sunday mornings and sing to the neighborhood from my front stoop, much to the humiliation of my siblings. I played the violin without abandon, I poured my soul into every note. I painted – sometimes images that dwelled in my dreams, sometimes replicating images I found in magazines. I played the piano – sometimes looking at sheet music, sometimes making up the music. I cooked – sometimes the meatloaf recipe my mother left for me to learn, sometimes creating my own pasta dishes. When I developed an interest in something, I explored it. I wanted to learn how to rag paint – I learned, and got pretty good at it! I wanted to learn about weather, I took a class. I dreamed, I explored, I asked questions. I sought.
This extended trip to San Francisco is becoming a journey opening me up to so many questions about how I’ve mistreated myself, ignored my inner voice, turned by back on my body. It is possible that I could have driven an hour from home, into unfamiliar territory and achieved the same expansiveness to really search within, but there is something very healing and restorative about this place. The coming weeks will truly be a journey of outer experience and inner discovery. Just the way Don George thinks every travel story should be.