Going to San Francisco for six weeks to attend Don George’s Travel Writing Intensive workshop, while still paying rent in Maryland seemed, at first, a somewhat foolhardy idea. Don and I brainstormed alternatives but came up empty and, as with most dreams, I talked myself out of going and let the idea slip to the recesses of my mind as wishful thinking.
The week before the workshop started, I was in the middle of a group phone call, completely blissed out by the encouragement I was receiving to get unstuck about my writing when an IM window popped up from the one and only Don George, encouraging me to come to the workshop. As a Buddhist, I am taught to be open to auspicious moments and miracles, so I knew these two events coinciding was no mistake. I solidified my decision to go. And I was immediately met with resistance from friends and family, offering stern opinions of my decision, like I had suddenly lost my mind. It occurred to me that I have spent the last year or two so self conscious, so devoid of confidence in my abilities, my place on this planet, my evolving spirituality, that deciding to take action without seeking the advice of at least 10 people threw everybody off – and yet it felt really, really right. A spontaneous, bold decision was totally in line with a younger version of myself.
I was the girl who took chances – that’s how I was selected to travel Europe with People to People as a high school student, how I went back two years later to study in Austria for a year. It’s how I returned home to become a State Department intern. And I realized in the huff of concern for my decision that I made all by myself, that I have been half asleep in my life for a long, long time.
Suddenly, I’m in the Bay area, where the air smells sweet and cool, with just a dash of sea salt. The architecture is different, the foliage, the traffic patterns, endless foodie possibilities. Conversations are different. There’s Mexican chocolate ice cream – rich, organic, creamy chocolate strongly spiked with cinnamon – my new favorite thing, by the way. But, I find in all that different a strong sense of discomfort.
I’m three hours behind my coworker and our biggest client. They’re having a conversation about our work without me and I’m feeling disconnected, left out because it was 6am when they were talking and I was sound asleep. I’m staying in someone else’s home, which is beautiful and comfortable and they are kind, gracious hosts, but I am not in my own home. I’m not totally alone out here, but I am on my own. And I suddenly begin to feel the magnitude, the significance of this journey. It’s not as spontaneous and out of the blue as so many would think – it is a long time in coming.
My evolution as a writer is necessary. I have found my passion. My life blood. I have always known that experiencing new cultures, learning new languages, meeting people around the world has made my heart sing since the day I became a People to People Student Ambassador. And I have always been a writer. The time has come for me to step into my calling in this lifetime, confidently, to trust my instincts, to make my dream the first thing in my life to get my energy, second only to my spiritual path.
And then I introduce myself to 16 other writers in Don’s class. I am back with my tribe. I suddenly realize how deep in my bones, in every cell of my body this calling runs. It feels like I have been on this path since time out of mind. I look forward to the next 5 weeks with hope, anticipation and excitement.
I mean, come on – there’s Mexican chocolate ice cream – what’s not to be excited about?!