Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet—1
by Liz Jansen
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.”––Gabriel Marcel
When people ask where I’m going or how long I’ll be gone, the standard answer is, “I don’t know.” It drives administrators in insurance companies, travel clinics, and government offices crazy. Most want to know precisely which days I’m going to be in specific countries and when I’m returning. Right now I’m at a point that I imagine most expectant mothers reach–i.e., stop thinking and preparing, and deliver—i.e., get out on the road.
Crossing this threshold is something I anticipate with excitement and apprehension. It’s an awesome opportunity to experience new places, perspectives, and people. It’s a chance to discover new worlds, both within and around me. Yet I’ve never felt so comfortable and at home in my little place in the cedars—a sure sign that it’s time to get moving.
One of my greatest personal challenges is letting go of my need to control, and trust that I don’t need to run the universe. It’s very easy for me to fill up my days, albeit with important things, but not leave enough time to nourish, rest, and exercise body and spirit. In other words, maintain balance. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what environment you place yourself in. Familiar patterns have a way of staying with you, even when they don’t serve your higher self
This will be complicated even further on the road, because I’m continuing all my work, just doing it from wherever I am. That requires a high degree of organization. Balancing letting go with being organized is an interesting conundrum. But there’s nothing like changing things up and disrupting the status quo to force a recalibration of priorities. I look forward to addressing it.
As I prepare for departure, I’ve been divesting myself of so much stuff that’s accumulated over the years, and I don’t have a lot of things by many Western standards. It’s been tremendously liberating and there’s a week to go. Not having to move out has mitigated this somewhat, but I still take a look around and evaluate how important it can be if I haven’t looked at it in years, and am now leaving it for an indefinite period. Usually that means it’s about to be sent to the Paws and Claws thrift shop or the recycle bin.
Years ago, the late Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist whose work has been enormously insightful and transformative for me, coined the phrase, “Walking the mystical path with practical feet.” It’s a model I embrace, practice and continue to integrate into my life. That can be done from wherever I am—and whatever I’m riding.
Practically speaking, I’ve prepared my motorcycle, my self and my gear, as best I can. I do know which direction I’m headed in when I pull out of the driveway and have a few data points, a loosely put together route for the first three months, and a couple of destinations in mind once I leave the US. Watch for more details on that next week.