A good friend sent me this quote last week. It was very timely as I feel like I’m doing so many things imperfectly of late. It has been a stressful 5 weeks, full of death and destruction. As we were traveling back from Mexico at the end of September, we found out that we had lost the matriarch of a family who is not only very dear to us, but had adopted us into their circle. Two days after that, we lost the patriarch of another beloved adopted family from my university days. These were both big losses for us, but most especially for those families, whom we hold so close in our hearts. In the midst of all this loss, we also dealt with family members in the hospital, and all the chaos and stress of being back in the states and prepping to leave them again. With all this life upheaval storming about us, most days I just feel like shaking my fists at the sky and screaming at the Gods, “I get it! There is a lesson…but can you give me a fucking break for 15 minutes so I can process?”
Frequently over the past month, I’ve felt like I’m doing such an imperfect job as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, & aunt. So many people whom I love dearly are hurting. And I am nowhere nearby. I’m not there to hold their hands, or offer a shoulder to cry on, or sit in silence with them until they feel like talking. Instead, at the moment when I am needed most and most want to be there, our journey leads us off again to parts unknown and I am left to try and be as supportive as I can from afar. And I confess that I am doing a lousy, imperfect job of it.
Earlier this year, I had a conversation with my father about resilience, and what makes some people resilient and others not so much. My father is a psychologist and he was interested in what sort of role resilience has played in my life and what sort of role it plays in our current life of travel – where Kyle and I so often have to hit the ground running, think on our feet, and reprocess things with new rules & traditions, and ever changing cultural norms. I am a resilient and optimistic person – The Dory in our own version of Finding Nemo. But lately, I have been feeling a bit less resilient…as if I’m waiting for a sign from the universe that things are okay and I can keep swimming rather than just treading water.
And that’s where travel comes in, with all its unexpected wonders and lessons. Travel has taught me important lessons about moving forward, even when things are hard. Last week, the worst storm of the year hit the Irish west coast, exactly where we were staying. With high winds and sheeting rain and hail, it was very tempting to throw away the itinerary, crawl under the covers, and pretend it was all okay. But travel frequently pushes us out of our comfort zone. It was our day to move forward to a new location, and so we pushed forward, driving the small curvy roads of rural Ireland through the storm. We were resilient. In the end, we made it to the small cliffside town of Doolin, Ireland, just as the sun decided to peek out for a few minutes.
We had arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. Winds from a huge storm that caused death and destruction across Europe battered us around, blowing so hard that we had to hold on to each other to keep from blowing away. At one point, we had to decide whether to turn back or keep going forward, a breathtaking tower on the edge of the cliff our only incentive to move ahead. We pushed ahead and made it, the winds kicking us about. We took shelter for a bit behind the tower, and then headed out to brave the winds along the cliffs edge and watch the raging sea below. We had made it. The views were breathtaking and suddenly the wind felt more invigorating than scary.
On our way back, we danced along, letting the winds buffet us about and carry us along the path – surrendering to the moment. I paused to turn back and take the photo up above. Both exhilarating and terrifying, it was the perfect example of everything we love about travel. Once again, travel has helped us along, shown us the way, and is slowly helping us see that embracing the imperfections of life is what living is really all about.
So, for now, I will continue to live imperfectly, rather than not live at all. I will dance imperfectly in the wind, love imperfectly with all my heart, and be there for those I love as best I can as we continue to experience this crazy, imperfect adventure we call life. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute for those awe inspiring people we’ve lost. Or for all the amazing people we are still lucky enough to have in our lives.