I love to travel. I love to run away, too. Right now I *might* be escaping a slew of editing deadlines because my heart is not into it. Perhaps it’s that I thought I was going into labor at 3am and laid in bed for over an hour integrating the rushes and focusing on having a baby. That will throw you off, when it doesn’t actually happen but you’ve been sending all of your energy to it. Now I just want to eat chocolate and do anything but work. (Cue the world’s tiniest violin.)
Regardless of why, though, I do love to travel. I was a lucky duck as a kid and had the chance to visit the U.K. and Europe three times before turning 21 (and when you grow in in Alaska, that’s saying something. Those plane rides ain’t cheap and ain’t short, I can tell you that. Pst, thanks, Mom! xoxo) My last stint in Europe was a study abroad program in Dijon, France (and, yes, they have more than Grey Poupon there) when I was 20. I also lived in Scotland for 3/4 of a year right out of high school, working with two different theater companies and touring around Great Britain. Traveling solo on the EuroRails and walking through so much history and culture, my wanderlust and sense of adventure were wetted and my appetite engaged for the rest of my life.
Being a mother of soon-to-be four, I don’t travel much anymore. Well, I have gotten to go on a work trip or two each year -and some haven’t been too shabby. Cabo San Lucas, Las Vegas, Sedona, Atlanta… but I’d really love more. One of my dream jobs is to be a travel show host. And have a pony. But, you know. LIFE.
Recently I had a revelation.
You see, I have yearned my whole life. Yearned for something different. I’d be somewhere or in the middle of a moment and I’d wish for something else that would make it even better, richer, more meaningful, more perfect. It’s not a very satisfying way to live. In fact, it’s the opposite.
I lived with an unsatisfied heart. Nothing was quite good enough. If I was somewhere beautiful, I’d wish for someone special to share it with. If I achieved something I’d worked towards, I’d wish for the next level instead of appreciate what I had gained. If I was in a beautiful moment with someone (like laying in bed with my husband, all blissful and happy) I’d wish we could go out for pancakes right then. I cannot tell you how many times the latter has been true. Restaurants are my love language. There’s just something special about going out to eat at a place with atmosphere and special meaning, particularly with someone you love. (I am WELL AWARE of how ridiculous this last example is…but it’s me we’re talking about. Ridiculous is on the table.)
A few weeks ago as I was yearning to sit at a sidewalk cafe in France with a potent cup of cafe au lait and people watch, surrounded by the mystical magic of the French, it hit me:
I CAN LIVE IN MY MEMORIES.
Instead of wishing I was strolling the streets of Aberdeen, Scotland, I could go through my past experiences and walk the cobblestones and feel the sunshine as I did years ago. I could relive the experience and savor it. And the same with all the sights and places and experiences that I yearned to drop into -I could at any time.
Yesterday I took my two big kids to our favorite local Italian restaurant. On the walls are sepia toned travel photos and one of the L’Arc de Triumph caught my eye. I stared at it and then through it as I remembered touring through Paris and further adventures around Italy. Instead of a sense of loss that I couldn’t be there and that deep yearning, I turned to memories and began walking through those areas, remembering how it felt and what I saw.
Wilder turned to me, “Mama? What are you doing?”
“I’m reliving a memory,” I smiled back.
What a difference.
Because I hate that feeling of being unsatisfied, of yearning for something that isn’t meant to be in the moment. And my desires are so damn fleeting, anyway. I want one thing and then another the next. Restless heart.
And I don’t want that anymore. I believe I’ve outgrown it this year -this year of dramatic internal change.
I stood at my kitchen sink this morning, my heart feeling all wishy washy from last night’s “false alarm” labor. Dissatisfied, worried, anxious. And I looked at the windowsill lined with succulents in their tiny containers. Four out of six with a special story, each based on love. My face softened as I became thankful for these little reminders of gratitude and abundance. These little plants, resilient, full of life. And though I do not know what tomorrow may bring, or this coming year, or the next -and I could worry about that (and often have)- I look around me and see so much dang blessing and abundance that I can put my heart to rest.
So whether it’s reliving a place, a food (yep, I do that. Say it with me, “CHOCOLATE CAKE,”) or a time with someone I love, I have found such satisfaction in my memories instead of leaning into yearning for what I don’t have.
[Okay, I have to elaborate on the chocolate cake thing. So there are times when I get hit with cravings or really, really want to go to, say, a bakery for “x.” First, I tell Brian about it. Just by saying it out loud helps release it. Then I visualize and remember eating whatever it is. And I remember how I feel afterward. Then I don’t want it anymore. Now, my success rate isn’t 100% because sometimes my craving tells my brain to shut the heck up and just go to the dang bakery -and I do- but when I go through the process… 60% of the time, it works EVERY TIME.]
Although the Rolling Stones can’t get no satisfaction, they also say that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.
And I am finding so much more joy in my memories.