On Friday I closed down my little shop (The Green Wagon) after nearly six years. It became obvious to me after I got back from the POF journey that I was going to struggle with running a business and finishing the book. I felt my life yanking me in another direction that couldn’t possibly involve me spinning all of the plates anymore, but I promised myself I would give the shop a year & here we are–seventeen days shy of one year since I returned. The intentions we set are so much more powerful than we realize. I got busy with the store. Exhausted with the store. The book manuscript sat on my desk, neglected for months at a time. I began to feel like because I couldn’t really focus on any of the pieces of my life, I wasn’t doing any of them well.
I didn’t want to write or work on the book when I was exhausted or not able to do my best with it. I began resenting the store, because I couldn’t find the energy to also write the book. A wise friend told me that sometimes we have to trim back certain parts of our lives in order to let other parts grow. So, a few months ago, with the lease coming to an end, I had no doubt what the next step would be. The neighborhood had changed. The shop had changed. I had changed. It was time to allow it all to evolve.
My plan is to spend September and October finishing the book manuscript. That is as far ahead as I will really let my mind wander right now. I don’t know exactly what comes after that, but one thing I did learn on my journey (and something that I have to remind myself of often) is how much peace and joy I find when I trust the process and stop feeling the need to control what happens next. While traveling the POF path, I never knew what was going to happen in the next hour or the next day. Who I would meet. What little town I would ride through on my scooter in New Zealand. What the next city would be like in India when the train stopped. Or how I would spend my time there. Or even how much time I would spend there. I didn’t need to know where I would eat lunch or even where I would sleep sometimes. I trusted the story to lead me. And it didn’t fail me. Not once.
Yesterday at 8am, I finished my last bit of business at the store and drove to a nearby coffee shop to treat myself to breakfast for completing the long process of closing down the store. I was standing in line and noticed a small bar of fancy chocolate for sale on the counter. My initial thought was, “I can’t have that.” Then I did something that surprised me. I picked it up and bought it. As a gift to myself. I felt the beautiful paper between my hands, ran my finger over the lavender color wax seal that held the paper closed around the chocolate. It was so pretty I almost didn’t even want to open it. It only cost me about $5, but these little gifts we lovingly give ourselves are sometimes the most luxurious and deserved.
I sat down and started drinking my coffee and watching the people file in and out on their way to work. The rhythm of the early morning in this particular spot. And there it was—that same inner voice that returned on the first flight of the journey. I thought I had lost it again beneath the rubble and noise of the past year of my life. Suddenly, I felt like I was just little me in the world. The same feeling I had on the top of Piddling Mountain the day I spent with the old horse and told myself there was nowhere I HAD to be for almost eight months. There was nowhere else I had to be yesterday morning. No one else I had to be but just myself. After weeks (maybe months) of absolutely exhausting work–suddenly, it all felt freeing.
While flying back, I had a fear of losing those precious, intangible, invaluable bits of truth I had found on the journey–the kinds of things I couldn’t claim on a customs form. The types of things I still find hard to explain to people who ask about the trip. I worried that I would not be able to feel the same once I got home. And for almost a year, I haven’t felt the same. I didn’t feel bad, necessarily, but I haven’t felt the same. I am asked all the time if it was hard to adjust to being back. The answer was honestly no, but I didn’t realize why until yesterday morning. It wasn’t hard to adjust back, because I *didn’t* adjust to being back. I just sort of divided myself into who I was on the journey and who I was at home and jumped back into work. But as soon as I turned in the keys to the landlord and let go of a giant piece of my life yesterday morning–trusting wherever this decision was leading me–there it was. There *I* was. The me I was on the trip and I was suddenly able to be her in Nashville, which is what I had so desperately wanted all along.
I was worried it would take a long time for me to feel back to myself again–to define who I was without the store–to feel something even somewhat similar to how I felt when I was traveling, but it was that simple. I felt whatever it was shift inside me. How beautiful is that? Why do we find it so hard to have faith in ourselves? To trust that we know exactly where the path is and how to get back to it? I was worried I would feel untethered and lost and directionless and depressed and have to work really hard to remember who I am, but it was like flipping a switch. It was like seeing your oldest and dearest friend for the first time in years. Except it was me. And the recognition of it all made me tear up with happiness.