These past 2 years have been a life changing, habit breaking, pattern disrupting experience. I gave up all the plans, I gave up all the things that held me to what I had been. Not that there was anything wrong with who or what I had been, just that I was ready for something bigger.
I closed down my successful business, I separated from my long term partner, I left the home I built with my own hands to find out what more there was to build. It led me around the world. From Tibet to Texas, from Bali to Morocco, from Mt. Everest to Mt. Kilimanjaro, from the Appalachian woods to the California coast. I have had many adventures, close calls, magical moments, tearful breakthroughs, euphoric insights, and mundane stretches where time did the doggie paddle.
I watched dozens of sunsets and moonrises in just as many exotic locations. I talked with holy men, journeyed with shamans, spent hours in silent meditation, danced my raw emotions, participated in rituals of many traditions, pushed my boundaries, embraced my shadows, made offerings at shrines, temples and altars. I fell in love, fell off a ladder, fell into rabbit holes, camped in the desert, entered pyramids, and got my heart broken.
I swam in oceans, watched live volcanoes belch steam and gases, hiked mountains, traversed deserts, rode camels, ate yak, drank insect soup, bathed in oceans, rivers and bathhouses where you get scrubbed, slapped and put down for a nap.
Me. The same me that last year had a steady job and long term partner and home I owned. The same me that was happy or sad, excited or depressed, productive or lazy. The same me who struggles and soars, stumbles and shines. I was the one thing I could not leave behind.
Not that I mind. I like me. I love to spend time in my own company and do it as often as I can. I have a hard time imagining why everyone else does not do the same. But I say this to dispel a common myth our culture has taken on.
You cannot Wild your way to transformation. Peace, happiness, self love always come from within. It is the inner journey that makes the difference. Changing scenery, having experiences, trying new things can go a long way in helping the inner experience, but it is not the experience.
I have immense respect for these authors and their stories. But I have also seen many women in my travels trying to emulate these experiences. Following the map of someone else transformation is missing the point. Your experience must be your own, and you must go through the necessary internal shift to make it happen. Do you need to go to Bali to reach enlightenment? Absolutely not. Does everyone who goes there come back changed for the better? Probably most do not. Does going on an epic journey help? Only if you are ready to make the changes from the inside.
Bravery is not defined by despair or surviving dangers, it is being willing to make the necessary changes to further your growth, learning to think differently, giving up attachment to being in your own way. That can be done from anywhere. It takes no special skill. You do not require drugs, rituals or mystical experiences to do it. Exotic travel is not necessary. Being fully present with yourself, wherever you are, is.