What traveling has taught me about love, chaos, and change:
I've been wanting to start writing about my travels for a while now - it was my intention to write for the duration of my trip, but I never felt quite inspired enough. Every time I tried to write something, I would end up with several pages detailing the logistical trivialities and a half-dozen languid anecdotes, that while valuable when viewed as a whole, didn't seem to quite encapsulate my feelings or truly communicate what I felt I'd gained emotionally and spiritually by that point in my trip. I didn't really know how to express the change which I was experiencing while my travels transformed me. While I wouldn't say that I've become an altogether new person, I would say that traveling has helped me to become a more fully nuanced version of myself - something more closely in tune with what I desire to be. Ironically, however, I don't feel as though I've gone through a process of developing my ego self - the process of finding my identity has come from a place of chaos and destruction of my ego self and a greater feeling of unity and peace in the understanding that life is inherently chaotic and transient.
I have loved so deeply on this trip -- places, people, moments, ideas. I have had moments of frustration, but I've been mostly overwhelmed with a deepened sense of empathy, and a nearly unconditional love. I'm not necessarily talking about romantic love (which isn't altogether a separate entity from the concept of love in a greater sense), but the love that comes from listening, patience, and understanding. Meeting someone new, getting to know them and realizing how incredibly beautiful it is that they exist, because you've listened and really heard them, and for however short a time, you've had the opportunity to exercise your curiosities and vulnerabilities alongside them.
When I first left home, like some of you know, I was dealing with anxiety, for which I was medicated. I decided to start going off of my medication slowly. I was also in a relationship which had lasted 14 months and I wasn't planning on coming home anytime soon. It was a big change. I've always been awful at saying goodbye -- I've always had a sentimental nature for people and places I'm fond of, for which there is no shortage because I also happen to build these connections quickly and hold on tightly. Chaos and change have therefore always been things for me to fear, and they've thus always been the greatest triggers for my anxiety. Traveling, perhaps, is a bit of a crash course in learning how to cope with these emotions, since it's wrought with chaos and change. You can't always be in control and you have to truly learn to live in the moment if you really want to experience a person or place - because you might only have those people and places in your life for a month, a week, or sometimes even a day. And when you have to say goodbye, it's hard. But if there's one thing I've learned on this trip, it's that when you leave people and places behind, you'll soon find new people and places that you love with just as much fervour as you had with others previously. Although, instead of cheapening the relationships you've had with people and places no longer in your life, it enriches them. You'll never be out of love in a world filled with passion, creativity, curiosity and empathy. When you realize that the world is full of so many beautiful people and places to love, you also begin to realize how much the same we all are - we all want to love, learn, laugh, and experience life in whatever way that manifests in an individual from their point of consciousness in the universe. And then, chaos doesn't seem so scary. Letting go and moving on doesn't seem so scary and you can begin to start truly living life in the moment because you're no longer afraid of holding onto each moment - each person and place.
Tomorrow, I'm leaving Leon, Nicaragua for a week in Ometepe before heading home to Toronto. I've been here for a month and I've been traveling for two and a half. I've met so many amazing people and seen so many amazing things, and although I didn't end up on a farm like I'd intended and I have no money and I'm-going-to-be-crashing-on-your-couches... I think I found what I came here to find - myself in everyone else, and a foundation for acquiring peace within myself by overcoming some of my greatest anxieties. While I'm so sad to leave this beautiful place and all of the wonderful friends I've made here, I look so much forward to taking the lessons I've learned home with me and moving forward with them: Takig them back to my friends and family and building up my relationships back home from a place of love and calm, having the faith in myself to be resilient and cope with change - to see the beauty in every person and every challenge that I face, and loving unconditionally and without fear.
Thank you to every person who's been a part of this amazing time of growth in my life, whether I knew you for a day, a week or a month. Whether or not we cross paths again, know that I will always have ample love in my heart for you and that you always have a home here in Canada if you're passing through.
To those of you back home, I absolutely cannot wait to see you, and I love you with all of my heart.
Written by the lovely Megan T. Brown, photo from Las Penitas, Nicaragua, December, 2014.