April 17, 2018

Serendipity: Life Lessons From The Road

CancerRoadTrip

 

“Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.”
― Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures

 

So much of what I am learning is about unlearning.

I like to think myself free of many of the cultural bounds I have lived in, but I am not. As I travel, the extraneous falls away, but I am still the product of the world in which I have moved for so long.

But somewhere in this past year, I have crossed a threshold. It might be a threshold of just not caring. But actually I think it’s more of a surrender to the journey. And an abandonment of my so called mind, its comparative judgements and desire to control.

Instead, I am simply present and curious, and in this I find great joy.

***

During my flying days, I remember being at the airfield one day. A friend had come down, to see my new plane, Whiskey Oscar, and to just hang out a bit. After a bit, she turned to me and said: “Why are you doing this?”

 

CancerRoadTrip Adventure

Why am I doing this? Flying is magic and it touches my soul.

 

She’d watched me struggle with the size and bulk of the plane; with the need for assistance that was granted oh-so-reluctantly. There were a million not so subtle clues that I really wasn’t welcomed into this male aviation bastion that I had joined.

“I just want to fly,” I replied.

I looked at her and repeated my words: “I just want to fly.”  It was a response from deep in my soul and I uttered it with total peace and conviction.

It was the joy of flying that drove me forward, through all the petty difficulties and nonsense.

 

Why hadn’t I learned that life lesson sooner, that it is all about the joy?

 

And now, in my sixth decade, I find joy in life’s serendipity and adventures, albeit on the ground.

There is something about the adventure of being on the road that allows one to step out of the bounds of routine, that makes the space for serendipity to arise.

 

CancerRoadTrip

The road to…?

 

So I remember to be adventuresome (see Life Lesson #1 Have A Sense of Adventure). And I am trusting in a bit of serendipity to guide me.

 

CancerRoadTrip Cancer Road Trip

From 11 Life Lessons Learned from the Road: bit.ly/2ArBwpq

 

Saturday was a curious day. I was a bit without a rudder. There is always work to do on the blog. Growing social media. Opening new doors. I could employ three of me full time.

But Saturday, I felt the need to just be out, away from my computer. I wandered and in my wanderings, serendipity arose not once, but twice.

***

My travel wardrobe (as I’m sure you will recall!) is black, grey and off white. Everything matches, although nothing matches really. And it’s all just fine. It’s a uniform I don with little thought and I like the freedom it brings.

Now just a splash of color would be nice. So I am on a semi-perpetual scarf quest, at least for the moment.

I am in no rush. Serendipity will allow the right thing to appear, at the right time.  And in this day of wandering, I did not find a scarf, but a conversation.

***

CancerRoadTrip

The Santa Fe Farmers Market

 

I wandered over to Guadalupe Street where the farmer’s market was just wrapping up. I know if I stop in I will find something, but that is not what today’s quest is about.

Today’s quest is for a bit of color.

On Guadalupe Street is a combination of stores and restaurants, jewelers and consignment shops. Peruvian Connection is on one corner, and across the street, Double Take.

Double Take is a consignment shop with seemingly endless finds. The first floor is pure cowboy/cowgirl, with everything from oodles of jewelry to boots and clothes.

Falling on the cowgirl side of the equation, I am always taken with the turquoise jewelry. Case after case of beads and bracelets tempt and beckon. But I have a few things I love and I need no more. Even so, I do enjoy browsing this Saturday afternoon.

 

CancerRoadTrip Cancer Road Trip Serendipity

Beautiful colorful baubles

 

CancerRoadTrip Cancer Road Trip Serendipity

More bracelets, this time in turquoise

 

I wander the bracelets and beads. The beads are beautiful but the prices seem a bit high; a bit too tourist inflated. The flea market north of town has better prices and perhaps better jewelry too.

I head towards the other side of the shop where the vintage clothing lives. Perhaps I’ll find a scarf here.

But rather than a scarf, I get talking to an attractive woman a bit younger than me. Her name is Sarah. We share our Santa Fe enchantment/entrapment tales.

New Mexico is called The Land of Enchantment for good reason. If you connect with this place, it’s a soulful connection that isn’t easily cast aside.

 

CancerRoadTrip serendipity

The landscape of Santa Fe

 

The flip side of that is that it entraps you. Once New Mexico is in your blood, you are forever entrapped by the Land of Enchantment.

For the people who are drawn here, the pull is almost palpable and it immediately creates a connection, to the land and to each other. There is a knowing and acceptance that opens conversations on a more personal, energetic level than I’ve experienced elsewhere. Perhaps this is one of the  reasons that I am so drawn to this place.

I tell Sarah the tale of CancerRoadTrip. Of betrayal, of pursuing my own healing through travel. And of the future plans to give to others.

She responds that it is perfect.

“It’s a work in progress,” I respond laughing. I point to the amazing resources of a place like Santa Fe for a healing retreat.

“Feldenkrais”, she responds.

I pause.

Pardon me?

“Feldenkrais”. I have no idea what she is saying, much less talking about.

“I can’t explain it”, she tries to explain. “You just have to try it”.

She asks for my email. I give her my card and she promises to send me the information.

And, sure enough, later that day, an email with the directions to Feldenkrais appears in my inbox. Sunday 11 am.

At first, I write a polite, non-commital response. But something sticks with me;  I decide to google Feldenkrais. And it’s a fascinating story.

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais was born in Russian, immigrated to Israel and eventually worked for a number of years with Joliet Curie in the French nuclear program.

Feldenkrais was physically active until a knee injury sidelined him. Simply walking was problematic, between mechanical dysfunction and unrelenting pain. And that is when he focused his very keen mind on a synthesis of physics, body mechanics, neurology, learning theory and psychology to develop the Feldenkrais method.

CancerRoadTrip

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

This method leverages knowledge with experiential understanding to rewire the brain, to find new methods of movement. As one learns to experientially move in new ways, the mind also learns to think in new ways. It’s about self knowledge, discovery and choice. The brain’s neuroplasticity, something science is just getting onto, is perfectly capable of rewiring itself and translating that knowing to the body.

What implications does this have for chronic pain issues, not to mention cancer?

But I digress.

This particular session had to do with experiencing the function of the lungs. Did you know that the right lung is larger than the left? It has three lobes versus two on the left. Have you ever felt or sensed this disparity?

The series of breathing and visualization exercises took me deep into the movement of my lungs. I understood breath in a new way. I felt the function of breathing in a way I never had before. And because it’s experiential, the sensation and awareness of each lung, rising, deflating, moving through my body is now a part of me. I can draw on this exercise and sensation at will.

As Sarah had forewarned me, you have to experience this.

For me, this resonated on a far more profound level than yoga ever had (although getting up and down from the floor during this exercise, I realized some time in the yoga studio would also be good for me). I can only imagine how much I might learn over time, about body wellness and dynamics.

After class I stopped and chatted with the instructor. I ask her how she got into this.

“I was a dancer and at the age of 15 I started having hip problems. They told me I needed surgery” she explained. But rather than surgery, she found Feldenkrais and was so captivated, that after art school in New York, she decided to concentrate full time on this method of healing.

Needless to say, I’m heading back next week for more Feldenkrais. I hope that this may be an avenue to deal with some of my mobility problems and the unending pain in my shoulder that started with my hip surgery after the last round of chemo. And perhaps a method of insight into that elusive mind/body connection that I believe is such a crucial key to healing, life and wellness.

***

Serendipity arrives in yet another form on Saturday night. I am feeling unusually social. I stayed in Friday night, too tired to do anything. But tonight I’d enjoy some company.  I browse the MeetUp groups. Perhaps there is something here.

A dinner for women entrepreneurs catches my eye, but the RSVP deadline was yesterday. Nevertheless, I leave a message seeing if I might join. A bit later, a text appears on my phone. I am welcomed.

CancerRoadTrip serendipity

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

 

In some ways being in Santa Fe is like being a stranger in a strange land. Serendipity welcomes me at many a turn and I find an easy comraderie with people. It has never been like this before. Is it me, is it Santa Fe, or is it some combination of the two?

Tonight, six women gather, each with their own fascinating story to tell. And they are all great stories, of women navigating families, work and life, all on a quest for something with deeper meaning. One has sold a business and written a book; another is developing a healing retreat. Some are lost, some are found, at least for the moment.

We chat. We eat. We regard each other and smile. Serendipity is at work, and we all recognize it with deep gratitude.

We part, looking forward to our next get together.

 

More Reading on Serendipity and Life Lessons From the Road:

11 Life Lessons Learned From The Road
Thoughts on the Metaphor of a Road Trip
Weathering The Storm
Traveling The Timeline Of Now
Reflections on Life and Cancer
Travel Minimalist: 17 Reasons Why Less Is More

 

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What is #CancerRoadTrip and how did it come to be? Read this post to get the backstory! 

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