A Look at the View

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Views. They come and they go. It seemed like the landscape was ever changing as I rolled through Java, but looking back the landscape was surprisingly similar from one end to another. Each place I saw people, hard at work, moving with intention and flowing with this vibrant, successful society.

Climbing the mountain this morning I lost the trail, determined that if I jut kept going up it would eventually lead me the right direction, or at least allow me a better view to find the path again. Wading through waist high grass I was itchy, sweaty and laughing at myself. Remembering the overstated quote, ‘when the two roads divided I chose the one less traveled and that made all the difference’ -and while normally I enjoy this quote, this morning I was wishing I had found the actual trail. Then I turned around and was greeted with lush, green fields, a gleaming ocean and after a few more steps, I thought I glanced the first sight of my sought after temple. Ah, just the right sight to keep me going. Isn’t life like that sometimes? After a few more paces I connected with a smaller than expected path that easily took me to the temple (where I am currently writing this). How many things stand in our way on a daily basis of doing what we want in life? Is it an overgrown, missed footpath that leaves is discouraged? The unknown or fear when we’re in the moment and have a chance to dive overboard before the waves get too rocky? Are you waiting for someone to take the plunge with you, or perhaps push you over the edge? Whatever it is, think about it for a second.

I have found that there is a breaking point for myself. Leading up to something I am so excited, enthralled at the rush, adventure, change. Then I hit panic mode where every doubt, question or negative voice from others floods my head and clouds my vision. I stand there on the edge and let it take over me, consume my entire being. It reminds me of bungee jumping. I didn’t have any desire to do it before hand, but being met with the highest one in the world (Blukronts bridge in South Africa), I couldn’t turn back. Deciding to do it, I knew I’d love it, so why waste time being scared in the moment? I was one of the only in a group of 20 not pacing around ready to poop my pants. I was second to go and watched the first. I remember it clearly because I was excited to go after him, he had a similar spirit as my brother and helped keep my focus in check. My leg straps were on and it was time to stand up; at this point every emotion possible overloaded me and panic set in. No no no! I was waving my hands and ready to dive away, glue myself to the floor with all my might if I had to. But I had reached literally a line where you couldn’t return. I had this sudden breath of calm in the last moment and remembered what one of the workers told me about jumping and not falling: the jumping pictures are what make a good photograph. So in that last glimpse of a millisecond, I chose, and I jumped off that bridge (I have pictures to prove it). The moment of free falling, weightlessness and even risk is one I’ll never forget. Afterwards it was exactly how I expected: I loved it and pined for more. Taking those initial steps, testing out the water and then diving in are the moments that impact us, challenge us, result in change. We become who we want to become and these moments of choice help us get there.

The last couple weeks have been filled with these breaking points, and while I’m not plummeting from a bridge, I have had to wake myself up to escape the doubt ringing in my head. The truth is there are many paths to choose, and just like the one this morning still lead me to my destination, there isn’t a right or a wrong, just different. Finding what works for you is great, especially if it means you get to test out all the wrong ones in the process! Experience makes us relatable, makes us human and propels us forward. Who would ever want to take that away?

In retrospect, I think of how easy taking the path might have been. It was clear and there were even steps along the way. But my path? Well, maybe no one will ever walk that same way again, and that’s kind of cool to think about it. In a homogeneous world it’s kind of fun to think sometimes we can do things a little differently, even if it is a mere 30 minutes plowing through rough terrain.

If you’re always chasing after the moment soon you might forget that this is actually the moment.

Over the last few weeks, traipsing through Java my mood would fluctuate all across the board- ok that is putting it lightly, but really I was all over the place. During those endless, smokey, sweltering bus rides between destinations I battled with myself the ever persistent question of what am I doing? Shouldn’t I be on a beach somewhere relaxing? Shouldn’t this all be really easy and bus rides be in comfort as opposed to this temporary mode of misery? Then, I’d pause and take a second to get out of my own head. I’d look across the aisle at the woman who had been staring at me and offer a smile. And you know what? She returned the smile. Objectively, I could be the only white female going through this area, alone. There are cultural and religious reasons why that would not be possible, or incredibly hard, for a woman in her network. I mean, really it’s not that common in mine either. So while I was busy getting worked up second guessing my choices leading up to those moments, I stepped away from my own minor frustrations and was greeted with beauty, warmth and smooth transitions.

Before we travel we have an idea of what we want to see, or at least I did. Before this trip I had years of day dreaming, pages read of other people’s encounters and I couldn’t help but think: could I do that? Would it look the same? Would that happen to me? How would I find this once I got there? Call me crazy but I’m guessing I’m not the only one to experience this. I think they are part of everyday interactions that are just amplified when your comfort zone is taken away bit by bit with changing food, language, dynamics that have formed our modern norms.

I might think, why hike up the same mountain when you can have different views, and others might think why hike a different one when you love the view you have?

Im finding a freedom more and more everyday when I let go of the shoulds and allow myself to just be and go along with things.

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  1. Love your “views”!

  2. I love how you write Steph! I don’t know that it could be so hard for you in Java but I am proud you made it and you have your own journey, your own experiences. I’m going to be your fans and following your story! Keep safe where ever you are.. xx

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