When I saw this mural today in Barcelona, I immediately recognized the heart that continues to beat with love even after it’s been stamped on, pierced, shattered and patched up. This is what a heart that has lived, loved and suffered looks like, and it resonates with me.
I’ve been home for a full week after having spent 21 days in Spain and Portugal, and the whole process of travelling and coming home has once again given me food for thought. Years ago, when I worked in retail and had an impending vacation approaching, I would find myself at the top the of the flight of stairs in the store thinking about how fleeting every moment was. In what felt like the blink of an eye I would find myself in England, or Greece, or Eastern Europe, long enough to have a series of fleeting moments (all of which I would make sure to store in my mind when I consciously took the time to be present and aware). Said series of fleeting moments would last long enough so that I would get used to my surroundings, and in the blink of an eye, I would find myself back at work at the stop of the stairs reeling from how quickly the events transpired and how much of an observer I felt like in my own life.
The past 2 years has been such a shift for me in terms of what I do in my daily life, and the different roles and responsibilities I have assumed have allowed me to stay incredibly busy, which has translated into an overwhelming sense of being present for all of the new experiences I have been witness to…and then I went on vacation.
Being away like that, my first non-work related vacation with my partner in 2 years, was an almost surreal experience. The whole concept of being at home one moment and being in Spain hours later completely blew me away, and I’ve travelled pretty extensively, so I can’t really explain what was different about our this trip. All I know is that I found myself in a whirlwind of activity, exploring places I’d never even considered going to while acclimating to hearing Spanish and Catalan being spoken to me and all around me. I had decided shortly before we left that I was going to take a real break from yoga, leaving my travel mat at home and allowing myself to be a participant in my own social experiment. Looking back on the 21 days, I can honestly say that I felt completely uprooted while I was gone, never once feeling like I was completely still or particularly grounded. We went from Barcelona to Granada to Cordoba to Cadiz to Sevilla to Lisbon. In 21 days. It was the most meandering I had ever done in my life, and I think I had some trouble getting used to the pace. Ever since I could make my own decisions, I’ve found myself prioritizing all the aspects of my life that would ground me and provide what I could call “home”, and this trip was the antithesis of that. Don’t get me wrong – I had an insanely fantastic trip, but it was a bit jarring.
I found myself revisited over the 3 weeks by the same series of fleeting moments. I would blink and find myself in Barcelona, then blink again and find myself in the hammam in Granada. Blink to find myself having a beer in Cordoba, another one to find myself on the beach in Cadiz. Double blink to revel in the absolute splendour of Sevilla. One last blink (accompanied by an eye twitch from fatigue) at the top of the palatially-strewn hills of Sintra near Lisbon. Admittedly, this series of fleeting moments lasted way longer than previously, but fleeting they were nonetheless.
And now I’m back home after a full week of reintegrating into my own life. A week of reflecting on the whole process and how powerful it is to uproot myself to another part of the world and then take a step back…back into the role of observer, taking mental snapshots to have something to look back on, something that can’t be posted on Facebook or tweeted on Twitter. And after everything, I come back to where I always come back to: a place where I understand the significance of the space that exists between where we exist as individuals and where that existence takes place. I may not be able to name it, but I realize that it exists, that on some level everything that happens around us is exactly that – happening around us. It’s our responsibility to include ourselves in what occurs, to be active participants in our own lives, because the alternative is to simply stand around vacantly and find ourselves reeling when we finally snap out of it and realize what we missed.
Now that I’m back at work and posting all the snapshots of our time in Europe, the fleeting moments are gone. I’m back, in every sense of the word. And I’m grateful for the time that I spent chasing those fleeting moments. I have no explanation for why I found myself in awe of that aforementioned space…the space where with the slightest squint I could convince myself I was watching a film that was taking place around me, completely detached from it all. I think my little social experiment of staying away from yoga had everything to do with it. I ended up doing a few sun salutations in a park in Sevilla after not being able to resist the pull of the earth and the grass below me. Funnily enough, those few sun salutations were drenched in perfection for me…I found myself floating back into Chaturanga, my body feeling lighter than it ever had in any previous class or practice. Never feeling the grounding action of my usual practice was a shock to the system, and combining that with our schedule of travelling and exploring by foot was a seriously intense combination that has allowed me to know myself even better than I thought I did. And that’s what it’s all about…isn’t it?