Soloing for the Soul.
I haven’t done a solo trip in a while. The act of getting away from the familiar and out of my comfort zone has always proven to be good for me, and for my soul.
The first trip I remember taking alone was to North Carolina. I had stopped in Florence, SC, to visit with one of my high school friends who was working at a television station there and then I was off to visit the site of where Dawson’s Creek was filmed. Yeah, I guess I was that much of a fan. I didn’t do much research though and the set area was closed down for the season by the time I arrived. So, I drove my rental car around getting lost in the Research Triangle and recall talking on the phone to my friends back home while walking through a mall. I stopped whenever I saw something cool and took photos as I was taking some photography classes at The New School at that time. But most of what I remember is feeling completely alone and really uncomfortable being completely alone. But I did it. And I guess it paved the way for my future solo trips... and the importance of researching a little better prior to the trip.
The timing of a lot of things collided in my life for one of my most memorable and powerful solo trips. I had booked the trip to visit my former roommate who was living and volunteering there. She had called me to tell me that she met a guy and was going to marry him. I thought, “I have to get out there and just make sure that this something she really wants to do.” I booked the ticket and days before I was due to leave, my uncle passed away. He had been going through surgery and treatment for a benign brain tumor, but it was unexpected and being as close as I was to my aunt, it hit hard. I rescheduled for a few weeks later to be with my family. Ironically, my friend's wedding was scheduled during the time that I was going to be there this time around, and I would be the sole witness and photographer for the wedding. It was around Eastertime, and in an effort to get over one of my heartbreaks, I had done a 40-day cleanse of no drinking, dating, or drama. My birthday that year fell on Ash Wednesday and so the timing seemed quite perfect, even for someone who doesn’t go to church much anymore. So, I arrived to Guatemala with all of this extra baggage, so to speak, of things I was thinking about and reflecting upon – life, death, love. I also had the book, The Power of Now, in hand and reading that while on the trip made everything even way more powerful.
After spending time in Antigua for the wedding, I headed off to a few solo day trips and then to a few days on Lake Atitlan which to this day, is still the most magical place I have ever been. I wrote, at length, about my experiences on this solo journey and would email my “entries” to a group of my friends and family. I’ve read back some of what I wrote on that trip and honestly, it’s hard to even recognize that the person who wrote what I wrote is me. I think that’s why it’s so important to write in the moment, at least for me. When I read my words from back then, I realize how much I love the adventurous spirit I had at that time – somewhat naive but a good judge of character, refreshingly optimistic, open, and curious. I learned so much by meeting different people in different places and yet, some of the most powerful moments were those that I was completely alone – no way to contact anyone who knew or loved me and nothing to listen to but coyotes in the distance. That’s when The Power of Now hit home.
This time around, the "baggage" I’m bringing along to Nashville is not quite as intense as questions about mortality. I know, on this trip, I’ll reflect upon the death of my relationship and relationships in general. But what I really need to do in this short trip is make decisions about my career - real and realistic decisions – about where I am going to go from here with my day job and with the steps I will or will not take towards my dream. The book I’m bringing along for this journey is Born for This because essentially, that’s what I’m trying to figure out – what was I freaking Born. To. Do.
Upon arriving in Nashville, there was a huge rainfall and then I went off to the Grand Ole Opry for one of their Saturday night shows. I don’t know a lot about music, especially country music, but wow. I sat in a row all by myself and just watched as singer after singer, musician after musician, performed their hearts and their souls for a roomful of strangers. What I would do to have the ability to express myself – my soul – with notes and chords. I’m so looking forward to being inspired by this Music City.
“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”
~ John Maxwell
“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
~ Albert Einstein
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley
About the photo: from the ON AIR Grand Ole Opry tonight.