Once Upon A Time…
there were three orphaned elves who lived in the misty, cool mountains. They were brave and daring as they crossed ravenous rivers, journeyed through enchanted forests, and befriended the strange beasts that inhabited their world. And why? Because they were on a quest. A quest to find the witch who killed their parents. Their names? Bon Bon, Dum Dum and Cream Puff. Their names may sound silly, but all elves take sugary names, didn’t you know? For what better legacy is there to leave, than one that is both sweet and delightful?
No, this is not a short fiction story I am writing, though perhaps I will.
The truth of the matter is, I was Bon Bon.
My baby brother, Cream Puff. My little sister, Dum Dum.
I secretly snickered at her name.
She didn’t really want it, but I convinced her it was fun and awesome and not-at-all-demeaning-of-her-wits. Right. Poor tormented younger siblings.
Either way, the above is the very-real-true-life-adventure of three siblings with crazy imaginations.
We hid beneath our trampoline (i.e. cave of salvation) in threadbare play clothes and barefoot when it was barely above freezing temperatures and raining.
My six year old brother cried, “But Whiiitney..I mean Bon Bon……I’m cooooold!” (In another life, I went by Whitney. You can read that HERE.)
“Good! We’re orphaned elves! We should be cold!”
I was so obsessed with experiencing the extremes.
To know what it felt like to survive. To be cold and hungry and overcome.
I may have pushed them too far.
They were quite accommodating of my shenanigans up to a point. Then, it really was best to just head indoors for some tomato soup and grilled cheese.
“Wait, you guuuys! Come back! We could put on jackets I guess. Just a little longer! We can pretend to discover some berries to eat!”
That usually worked.
When I reflect on the way I played “extreme dress up” as a child, it makes sense that I chose a nomadic lifestyle as an adult.
I wanted to know what other people knew. I wanted to feel what other people felt.
I created so many made up scenarios so I could pretend to be in their shoes, and conjure up all the emotions I might possibly have to wrestle with if it was my life.
Now that I consider it, this is probably where my high EQ comes in and why I sought non-profit jobs and other helping positions.
Now, I am focusing on writing. Now, I am learning to create, relate and transmute those things I know or feel about the human heart into the characters I write into being.
But not only that, now I really am living in extremes. I am not just playing dress up anymore.
OK, OK. I really am still playing dress up and that makes me incredibly glad!
Because the truth of slow travel is that I get to try on as many hats as I want to.
In Argentina, I learned to care for horses and to sheer sheep and ride a tractor.
I played dress up as a farm girl, a country road bring me home girl, and a drinker of starshine, moonbeams and lighting bug light.
In the mountains of El Bolson, I romped barefoot through the wilderness, up glaciers, swam in the crystalline blue river and drank home brewed mountain beers.
I traipsed through prickly bushes and rocky paths on the side of a mountain overlooking a snaking river, and watched the jagged peaks disappear in the clouds.
There was a lagoon of a pistachio cream color so magical that I felt for sure I was in the dream land my child brain concocted so many years ago.
I played dress up as if I was one part hobbit, one part gypsy, one part native american.
I felt wild and old souled. I felt ancient and wise as well as playful and impish.
On my 600 mile walk to Finisterre, at the end of the world in Spain, I was a medieval pilgrim.
I felt in my bones the weight of my pack. I felt in my joints the weariness of walking miles, and miles, and miles before I slept.
I stood at the End of The World….like Reepicheep, like Bilbo, like…me….a true blooded adventurer slash explorer.
Yes, I said slash and if you ever watched The Little Mermaid 2 you are already humming the tune.
In Paris, I was the inspiration, the woman, the muse behind the Mona Lisa, the Victory at Samothrace and Psyche. I was manifest beauty, light, life and wisdom.
On the beaches of Costa Rica, I was Karana from “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” I imagined I was stranded on those wild, virgin beaches and learned the secrets of the sea, the mystery of the waves under the moon.
In all of these adventures, I connect and become more in tune with my own Essence.
And in my one, small life, I get to experience a hundred lives.
Tell me if that is not a priceless gift.
Perhaps we had it right as children.
Perhaps the only way to live is with our imaginations at full throttle and our curiosity blasting at the highest possible decibel.
I guess what I’m realizing is this:
I have not stopped playing dress up and creating adventures for myself.
Just because I am taller doesn’t mean the clothes don’t fit.
Because here’s the other awesome truth I have only begun to learn:
If I imagine it….
If I dream it…
If I love it, hold it, cherish it, want it…
Sometimes it arrives 20 years later when you’re scrambling over rocks, in and out of caves in the wilderness of Patagonia with your lover, only to realize that the river, the rocks, the waterfall, the forest….is a replica of that dream you used to dream of your own special “paradise.”
The one you used to imagine for yourself as you drifted off to sleep.
The one with the beautiful wood where you would run barefoot and free, unafraid of wildebeests or witches .
One day you’d find it. One day perhaps…long after the final sleep found you and a savior returned.
But I’m telling you, I woke up.
The Savior arrived in the form of my own heart rising.
And now the dreams I dreamed, the literal dreams…I am talking, the total-wonderful-wanderings of my child’s mind, are very real and alive and with me now.
So this is why I travel.
I can’t help it anymore. I want to feel everything.
I was a weird kid who played out in the rain, eyes turned toward the storm clouds daring them to come at me.
I wasn’t budging.
It took me awhile to fight with that kind of tenacity as an adult.
To face my true heart’s desire and go for it. To realize I created my reality.
To stand bravely against the chaos of the world and say “Bring it on! Is that all you got?!”
Chaos has become my friend, my partner, my peace.
The unknown is a fascinating and beautiful place to be.
Because from here…
anything is possible.