The illusion of stability and growth that develops while running from issues, fears, habits and patterns is a powerful and intoxicating fantasy. It's strong enough to make me believe that I have transcended the valley of irresponsibility and immaturity in a lack of respect for my body as soul. As long as I'm moving I can keep those patterns at bay and convince myself that either I have grown stronger and wiser in wading through their muck or that they just don't exist anymore. Unfortunately, I can't always be in the act of movement and distraction and lately with a stress fracture and partnering up with someone for the next leg of this journey, I have done a lot of sitting while discovering some old habits gain momentum in the stillness.
I love ideas of magic and look for its presence often in my life and have found many traces over the past few days. As we stayed with some people from Iceland I was taught a new phrase in their language that is written, "þetta reddast", which translates to "it will all work out okay". Another Icelandic influence in the same vein of peace and tranquility was found in a song they showed to Ryan and I that is widely know throughout their country called Leiðin Okkar Allra, which is about a man on a journey accepting his story and finding trust in the unfolding. I don't understand a word of it, but it is beautiful. I am so grateful that these concepts and Nordic influences have weaved their way in the overall lesson I have been learning throughout the summer; rest in stillness and find peace in the journey.
I've never done very well in cities. I feel like with every desire at my fingertips the city acts like a mirror exposing the color and health of my heart. Maybe this could be a tool for self awareness, but mostly it seems debilitating in my inability to find clarity and separation from negative atmospheres and activities. For the past three days ryan and I have wandered the streets of Barcelona and spent the nights surrounded by people from various countries across the world. We have had some really amazing experiences like going to see La Serada Familia, swimming in the Mediterranean, going to an open mic night and meeting people from Iceland, Argentina and even some of my friends from California, watching the sunset at Bunker del Carmel with a group of people we just met who represented three continents and four countries, exploring the streets of the Gothic Quarters, or playing cards in an apartment late into the night with Nordic travelers.
It has been a crazy experience so far, but my path and understanding of the direction my journey was taking me seemed to shift in the grip of a city. Every morning ryan and I found time to journal and reflect on the previous day in a coffee shop, which was dire for my emotional stability. Being alone allows for so much independence in processing thoughts and finding spaces to do that, but there isn't the ability to speak and have ideas reflected back to you by someone you trust and respect. There are benefits and drawbacks to either circumstance, but I prefer having someone around even though it potentially may add to distraction from dealing with the reality of my situation.
The longer we stayed in the city the more I felt this internal balloon expanding feeling like it would explode unless pressure was relieved. I'd wake up each morning with anxiety over my day feeling directionless and unstable in any understanding of my position in my mental and emotional development. There were too many distractions; the ability to drink endless bottles of cheap wine, the infinite options of things to see and do, the new energies presented to me by strangers, thousands of sounds never ending in the dreadful rumble of tourist exploitation. I felt the structure I had been building inside my soul begin to wobble and shift in a growing storm encompassing its feeble composure. I quickly recognized that familiar taste of remorse waking with a headache feeling shaky after a night of binge drinking while memories of sitting on a swing set with a bottle of wine listening to Frightened Rabbit alone in a dark, empty part of town the night before loomed through my mind. This is not who I am anymore and who I am becoming, but if you let your guard down for a second you risk opening yourself up to the rut of habit and it doesn't take long to find yourself feeling as if you haven't changed a bit.
I felt guilty in a lot of ways bringing someone else in on this journey because I've been dealing with so much personal shit and facing some serious moments of panic and anxiety and asking someone to step into that reality with you is asking a lot and puts a lot of pressure on them to deal with your craziness and crisis while they just want to travel and explore freely and joyfully. Communication is everything and quite possibly the most important aspect of relationships that needs to be considered a discipline in its consistency. It's something I struggle with, but not so much with Ryan. We were prepared to have different ideas and perceptions of the direction this journey should go and have found ways to compromise in our needs during our time in Barcelona. We decided to only spend three days in the city and then take a ride to the north and spend time in a quieter place away from the jaws of a giant I am too weak and small to defend against currently in my life. Our plan right now is to spend some time on the smaller port towns in Northern Spain on the Camino in places I've been and wanted to show Ryan and give our bodies a few more days of healing with my stress fracture and Ryan's foot problem from a bad step on a trail in Arkansas. After that we will make or way into the mountains to begin a journey through the Pyrenees.
Our time in Barcelona was interesting. Mostly it was tough for me, but again I have learned some powerful lessons in the face of fear and frustration. The main thing I have taken away from our time in the city is that no matter how safe you feel in the wind you aren't alone in the air. This can be both comforting and terrifying. You may be floating beside someone who is absorbed in love or you may be in a hurricane with tree limbs, rocks and other debris slamming you out of course. You can never let your guard down. Ryan told me of a term that will become a very influential phrase for my life; eternal vigilance, consistently and intentionally defending and protecting your healing and development.
As a city may give you all you seek in your desire, fulfilling your passions and exposing the intention of your heart, the forest strips you of all possessions and lays you bare before the Eternal forcing you to confront the hidden parts of your heart and engage the center of your soul. We had some wild times in Barcelona and really did have a wonderful time meeting people from all over the world being given a place to sleep by some people from Iceland, spending time with people from Germany looking over the sprawl of Barcelona as the sun set drinking wine and champagne, but the price of losing the flame that has been lit within me is too high of a risk and I realize that I need more time gaining strength before I can confront the demons of habit and pattern that are vigorous in cities for me. Strength will come in its time. For now I look forward and leave the city behind me remembering "we are not our failures, we are only the extent to which we love" and I long to deepen that well from which love is drawn.
Enjoy the pictures as the writing unfortunately is not bright and joyful, however true and genuine. Thanks for reading my diary!