February 19, 2018

How my Road Trip shook me from being a Free Spirit to a Normal Person.

Freedom lives in my bones and has always called me to other countries, to other jobs, to the sacred “other”—keeping me away from the definition of “normal.”

I prided myself in being the always-happy and free-spirited friend who changed so much that it was hard to keep up with what she was doing next.

“So, what are you doing now?” was always the first question posed at gatherings.

Is that why I left my perfectly good apartment—with its beautiful built-ins, turn of the century charm, and gleaming wood floors?

Is that why I traded in my perfectly good car—that served me so well and had everything I needed and enjoyed?

Is that why I left my perfectly constructed new business—which I had worked so hard to build from the ground up?

Is that why I left all of that to buy a too-expensive SUV to travel the country in? Me in a tent with my beloved and very few possessions. We can do anything! We left on a Tuesday and repeated, “We’re doing it!”

What exactly we were doing was only halfway known. And “Why?” was the only thing my mother seemed to be able to comfortably ask.

My sense of freedom evaporated on the second day as we pulled into a gas station in the heart of Amish country. I stared as a bespectacled and suspendered Amish gentleman walked into the convenience store and bought a Mountain Dew. I sobbed in the passenger seat. I wanted to turn back! I was so tired of the road and we hadn’t even been gone for 48 hours.

We charged ahead; me needing to prove to myself that I could do it. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone else! No—my story was that I was just excited to get to the next place. And then I was just excited to get out of the South. And then I was excited to get out of the desert. And then out of Los Angeles. And then. And then.

How did I so quickly forget about all of the truths that I had previously discovered?

How could I have forgotten that:

External conditions cannot and will not create happiness for you; it must be cultivated and watered unconditionally?
All of this is an illusion?
Fear is a product of my inability to see that all is eternally well?
I am safe, loved, and protected—always?

I did Reiki on myself, gave tarot readings in the tent at sunset, and drank lots of water. I tried to take care of me. I tried to see the adventure of it all and that I could enjoy the moment without worrying about breaking down or getting bitten by a rattlesnake.

All of this unease led to something that I believe I brought on myself: our SUV was hit from behind on a highway bridge; spinning out precariously, we just missed our demise over the guardrails and into a river.

The car was totaled and we were forced to fly home, ship the tent and our meager belongings, and rewrite the story.

I’m left with the wreckage of the facade of “freedom” and the reconstruction of a story that I guess no longer applies. The transformation that took place had to be shattering enough that it would teach me this valuable lesson:

Just because you are a free spirit doesn’t mean that a steady job cannot be intoxicating, or that the idea of settling in one place cannot fill you to the brim with light and richness.

Sometimes we change. Sometimes we grow out of the old story. And not only is that okay, it is necessary.

Will you accept that expansion can exist even as you stand still—in the same place, in the same job, in the same body? I accept.


Author: Marissa Bognanno
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Travis May

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Marissa Bognanno