Today for the first time in my life, I woke up in Thailand. Although this place is new there is something about the air here: the sounds, the smells, the feelings, that takes me back to other times and places. The foggy mornings in Kenya, the smells of eucalyptus on a scenic drive in California, the clinking of dishes and laughter coming from the kitchen reminding me of my time on staff at a yoga retreat, the calm and sacredness of my favorite hot springs in California. The same feelings of peacefulness, adventure, and a deep gratitude for all the wonder in this world awoke within me, but so did this deep heartache for things and parts of myself that I didn't realize I was missing.
I came to Thailand because I felt I had to. Because I could see and feel myself changing and was afraid my struggles were swallowing me whole, leaving me forever different. I had grown bitter, negative, and numb and I was scared I'd never snap out of it. The compassionate, understanding, vivacious, joyful person I once identified myself as had grown distant. Depression has been a thick, heavy blanket covering my whole life these last six months, dulling all sensations, except, of course, sadness and anxiety. The strangest part of this was for me to stop feeling that constant, bursting love that was bubbling in my chest eager to connect and express itself through laughter, tears, hugs, and words. Many times in my life I have tearfully said the words, "I just love everybody." That deep compassion was a part of who I was and without it I felt robotic. Play acting as my former self without the same feelings. I became the Tin Man searching for his heart. I grew accustomed to feeling without feelings. Laughter without laughing. Joy without joy. Excitement without excitement.
These feelings themselves carry an energy that I've missed. An emotional cup of coffee that no longer gets poured leaving me feeling blah and tired. And this morning, that nostalgia that overwhelmed me with warm feelings and sadness, also reminded me of another energy that accompanies moments of my life when amazement, happiness, and adventure have combined to create an unforgettable moment. Floating naked on my back in a hot spring staring at the stars and for a few blissful moments knowing that magic is real. Another time at that same hot spring, surrounded by cold water watching rain as it hit the fig leaves above my head feeling completely at peace and connected. Running one foggy morning in Kenya while listening to the Lion King soundtrack as I made my way through herds of giraffe, wildebeests, and zebra. I couldn't stop giggling at the surreal experience. Unbelievable scenery soundtracked by the perfect song with the feelings of possibility and complete liberation that come with the open road.
As I swam in nostalgia and began to examine these memories, I realized that part of me booked this trip to invoke some of these feelings. To throw that depression blanket off and remember who I am and what makes me tick. There's something about a good sunset, a new trail, a good view, a pretty flower, when the sunlight hits the world just right, the smell of the woods, a camp fire, your skin after a long walk in the snow, and the anticipation, excitement, and nerves that accompany trying something new, that make me feel alive. These moments are why I explore, both myself and the world. It's these moments when gratitude overwhelms me as I see the everyday magic that exists in this wonderful world that show me that God is real, because how can't he be?! These moments, to me, are the same as falling in love. Love has not always been kind to me, but I can always count on my relationship to this. To God. To Nature. To connection. To adventure. To wonder. To this world.
As I sit here writing, surrounded by water, nature, and the sounds of the tropics, I'm starting to remember who I am and with that I feel hope. Hope for adventure, love, wonder, gratitude, overwhelming happiness, and feelings with feelings. First full day in Thailand, feeling alive and grateful.