7 years ago I was here in Australia, swapping winter for summer, chasing my bliss.
We arrived green travelers. Had never properly pitched a tent before, and yet there we were, camping our way along the coast.
Twenty-four hours in, and I had a melt-down. We were trying to make our way through Sydney in a rental car. The map on the tablet kept turning (I was so green I didn’t know you could freeze the screen.) We missed a turn, and then another. I couldn’t read the map and the signs quick enough to give directions.
So I cried. Like a child.
A few days later we were all kitted out in our Land Rover with a snorkel, camping gear, and a cooler full of food, ready to pitch a tent a good 20 miles from civilization. There were 2 ways in; a gravelly dirt road littered with sizeable potholes, or a legit dirt road with craters the length and width of the Rover that were highly likely to be flooded.
We played it safe the first trip in, our pots and pans clattering away, my cortisol increasing the whole time.
Day 2 my husband needed more of an adventure, and after all, we were driving a car with a snorkel, so he led us into town through puddles as high as the windscreen.
I was freaking out. Body tense, eyes wide open, holding onto the door handle for dear life, confident we were going to meet our maker.
Those 6 weeks in Australia challenged me like no other.
Bitten by a bull ant, I was convinced it was a funnel web spider and that I was going to die.
A cyclone hit the coast, flooding major throughways, with only a tent canvas between us and it; I thought we’d end up electrocuted or drowned.
As the Land Rover slid into a tree in the middle of a thunderstorm in the middle of the outback, 30 miles any form of help, all I wanted to do was turn around and crawl into a nice, safe, warm, bed.
When my husband suggested we return for Christmas this year. I was hesitant. There were definitely good memories, but they were overshadowed by the intense moments of fear. While my mind knew we’d had, and would have, my body remembered a different story.
I resisted this trip at first; found a number of reasons not to come.
We can’t afford it.
We’ll be too jetlagged.
We don’t have time to plan this properly. Let’s go do an organized trip in Costa Rica instead.
All a protective mechanism to avoid feeling the same level of fright as last time.
Thankfully, we went ahead with plan A.
Turning onto my friend’s street, lined with tropical foliage, contouring the hills of the headland, the sea less than a mile away, something felt different from last time.
“This is my kind of paradise”, I said.
I was surprised as those words left my lips. This was not what I was expecting to feel after last time.
You might think, “Well sure. Warmth, sunshine, beautiful beaches… of course it’s gonna feel like paradise.”
But this feeling wasn’t because everything was perfect. There are bush fires blazing less than 20km away. There are days the smoke is so thick you can taste it. I have a sty on my eye the hurts every time I blink, probably due to the smoke. I am jetlagged. We’re on a budget. And we haven’t planned anything, just like I knew would happen.
Yet all I feel is bliss. A mix of Calm. Peace. At home. Rest. Pleasure. Presence. Alive. There is a life force rushing through me that was not here last time.
Last time I was here I only knew how to survive. That fear I felt was a manifestation that showed up in all parts of my life, no matter the circumstance. You could have plopped me anywhere in the world and I would have found something wrong with it and concocted some story about how surely I was going to get hurt or die.
In the 7 years that have passed since then, a lot has happened in my life. Most importantly, the fear has passed in that time. Not because of time itself, but because of an immense amount of healing for the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual traumas that I had been carrying.
As the fear moved on, something new arrived in its place. It’s what has allowed to feel the bliss and notice the paradise. I call it Faith; a deep primal knowing that no matter the circumstance I will be OK.
For once, I can relax, and receive the gifts in front of me.
The scent of the frangipani blowing in the breeze. The cockatoos and laughing kookaburras singing me to sleep and serenading me each morning. The contours of the land, the eucalyptus trees, the wild turkeys running around, even the ash floating in the sea.
There’s lots of potential danger: forest fires, low ozone cover, poisonous spiders, sharks, a really strong undertoe in the sea.
Last time I was afraid of all of them. They were stronger and more powerful than me. And I needed to somehow master and control them, or stay far away from them, to be safe.
This time, is different. I don’t feel afraid. There is a wide open power that flows through me and through them. There’s a knowing that we share the same source of that power, and so I don’t feel separate from them. I can swim along side these ‘dangers’ knowing that I am a part of them and they are a part of me. And we’re all being held and cared for by the source, the creator, of it all.
So instead of freaking out at every twist and turn not knowing what’s on the other side, I’m somehow receiving each twist and turn for what it is. Receiving it as a gift, and feeling the bliss.