Stuck

We arrived in Quito Ecuador on May 9th with a plan to stay for two weeks to do maintenance on the motorcycles, have our teeth cleaned, our riding boots re-soled, and pick up two packages that had been sent from the US to our friend’s mailing address in Quito. A straight-forward To Do List, right? Today is June 24th (46 days later!) and one of the packages, containing important stuff from home, STILL hasn’t been released from Customs.

Being stuck sucks. Waiting, uncertainty, and disappointment have led to feelings of boredom, anger, helplessness, depression, confusion, frustration, and (thankfully!) gratefulness for the people who try to help us.

I’m finally gaining some deeper perspective and want to share with you.

The thing is, this big adventure, this epic trip of a lifetime turns out to be a lot like “real” life. Shit happens and we have to deal with it. And in fact, dealing with it is tougher on the road because we have fewer resources. However, through darkness come opportunities for deeper learning. This, too, is like “real” life but it feels condensed out here, like a gourmet balsamic sauce simmered down for rich flavor.

We may be stuck due to a package but we're not forced to stay in the same place. This is Quilatoa Lake high in the Andes of Ecuador.

Being forced to slow down has opened me in unexpected ways. I’ll do my best to describe what I mean.

Through a podcast, I discovered the book Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It’s teaching me a new way of understanding who I am based on a different perspective about the two parts of our inner selves. Singer describes the observer (the true self), and the inner voice (the part created by outside influences). You know how it feels when you read something that resonates with you as true, and you can physically sense it in your body as you process the new material in your mind? It feels like that and it doesn’t stop there. I’m experimenting with what I’m learning to change how I re-center myself and meditate.

And, I’m learning how to reprogram my thoughts by using EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this method but it’s the first time I’ve truly worked with it. I figured after hearing about it a few times from different people, it’s time for me to pay attention. Since I’m a total newbie at it, I’ll share this definition from the internet to describe it: Tapping on ‘meridian points’ on the body, derived from acupuncture, can release ‘energy blockages’ that cause ‘negative emotions’. It seems like the perfect time to learn this technique.

I’ve found myself lost in thought about these two new-to-me concepts for big chunks of time because we’ve had ample unplanned time on our hands. I’ve also worked more on an ebook about the reasons and options for journaling, and discovered a writing group on Facebook, in which I’m receiving and giving feedback on projects.

During this time of feeling stuck, my friend Sandra asked if I would share what’s been challenging and what’s been great during our travels so far. (As of June 24th, we’ve been out here for 318 days.) Since I felt a bit on the gloomy side, I enthusiastically dove into the challenging stuff and effortlessly made a long list. Then, I tackled the great stuff list.

Chimborazo Volcano in Ecuador.

I noticed a few things after I finished the lists. First, it felt therapeutic to pour it all out onto the page. Second, I was surprised that although the “great” list was shorter, it felt bigger, more important, more life changing. Third, the two lists together could be titled What People Don’t Tell You About Long Term Travel Because You Wouldn’t Listen Anyway. If I had read these challenging items before we took off on this trip, I would have read them with my rosy colored glasses and plunged ahead anyway.  Thank goodness.

Despite this frustrating time of stuck-ness, I’m grateful to be out here. I know I’m expanding my understanding of myself, my relationships, other cultures, what I want and don’t want in my life, and more importantly, I appreciate that I don’t know how it will all play out. This time of being confined by one lousy package is no fun. I won’t lie. But now, I wonder how this extraordinarily uncomfortable 46 days of waiting will influence my life?

Being stuck shows up in all of our lives, stuck in routine or habit, creatively stuck, stuck in a way of thinking or feeling. During those times we realize that the only control we have is over our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. This quote I read recently from Caroline Myss sums it up, “My job is to let this world transform me.” 

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene