As a blogger of my travel website, one would naturally assume that the majority of my writing topics involve a variety of destinations. An arrival, an end experience, a finale of some sort. While some of the destinations have been breathtaking and beautiful, others have been forgettable and downright disappointing. Born with an insatiable wanderlust, however, I continue to travel the world year after year in search of new experiences, occasionally returning to a favourite one like a homing pigeon to regroup and recharge.
A recent illness caused me to head towards a destination of another sort. A mere 10-minute drive from home, this “resort’s” activities afforded me little more than a small flat-screen TV on my wall and a window next to my bed that I could, mercifully, gaze out of. While the high-tech bed in my colourless room could be lengthened (not that I needed it), bend every which way, and go up and down like a yo-yo at the press of a button whenever the whim possessed me, the plastic encased mattresses and pillows often had me lying in a pool of sweat in the middle of the night, desperate to change my blue-cotton gown. Speaking of gowns, the costume de rigueur was a below-the-knee utilitarian number that featured three white, plastic press studs per shoulder and centre front, and a modesty tie at the back, making me feel like I needed a PhD to put it together. To complete the look, an IV stand and drip, which I christened “George,” provided much needed fluid into my system and became my constant companion.
My seven-day stay in hospital was filled with blood pressure checks, pill popping, Heparin injections on the leg, mind-numbing inactivity, and a barely palatable cuisine. Faced with the inevitable, I decided to shift my mindset and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Armed with the belief that no one ever developed eyestrain from gazing on the bright side of things, I began to see my illness as a gift, a chance to become the witness in my own life. In between reading my book, writing in my journal, listening to uplifting CDs, and terrorising my friends on Facebook, I took the time to observe patterns in my own behaviour, taking stock of my mental struggles, self narrations and “stories,” discovering where I pushed, grabbed and judged. With my eyes only ever glued to the horizon, where I always longed to be, I re-focused my attention to the ground beneath my feet.
It’s amazing what a subtle shift in one’s mindset can do. I suddenly realized the futility of needing to be right all the time. As for my attachment to any outcome, I let go of that too, transferring what I did for a living - my writing and Isagenix business - out of the realm of ego and into the sphere of service. I finally understood the saying,”You can get everything you want if you help everyone else get what they want.” I discovered the art of listening, something that previously eluded me as it required a quiet mind and open heart. I practiced on everyone from the cleaner, medical staff and doctors, to my fellow patients, hearing what they had to say without projecting my own agenda to their story. It was incredibly liberating.
I greeted the day of surgery with an early morning shower at 5:30, washing my hair and blow drying it for good measure. I wasn’t going to be caught dead with bad hair post surgery. At 7:00, a tall, dark and handsome Israeli intern with green eyes named Saul raised my bed rails and wheeled me to the surgery room, where my endocrine surgeon awaited me. Engaging me in light hearted chit-chat to calm my nerves, my bed-ride down the hospital corridors with Saul enabled me to draw parallels between my own metamorphosis to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, one of the most dramatic moments in the Bible. Parking my “chariot” just outside the operating theatre, my anesthetist greeted me brightly with ‘“Good morning, Victoria, are you ready for this?” Before I could reply,”You bet,” I was out like a light.
The surgery went like a dream and was done and dusted in under 2 hours, thanks to the low fat and high muscle mass that my Isagenix regime affords my body. No intensive care needed. I drifted in and out of consciousness for a time before I was able to focus on Peter, my husband’s, smiling face at the end of my bed. Two days later, I was home again.
While the past couple of weeks provided me with few sweeping vistas, exotic cultures and global exploration, I traversed a far deeper and mysterious terrain in my journey to the Self. Experience-rich and confronting at times, the wealth of what I discovered about my own mind in this particular journey cannot be measured. In the words of the immortal author, Charles L. Wallis, “Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character.” Best part about it is that it ain’t over yet!
Our next destinations: Hawaii in May and Israel/Turkey in September. Stay tuned!