Time and space. Things that can either drive your mind crazy or provide a certain sense of pause that can’t be achieved if either is missing.
When I left for my trip up the PCH, my mind was all over the place. It was as if a tornado warning had just been issued in there. I was excited for my adventure, but I knew this wasn’t just a vacation. It was the start of a path of uncertainty that I had chosen for myself. Just like with this trip, I could literally go anywhere.
I was happy to take my thoughts on the road. In fact, I knew that had I stayed home that very first day I didn’t have to go to work, I would likely have crumbled. To set the mood that anything was possible, I put on one of my favorite podcasts, How I Built This on NPR. It was perfect — I would drive up the coast listening to how ordinary people had the creativity, dedication and courage to turn a good idea into a movement.
As someone who loves exploring on my own, this trip felt easy at first. I fell in love with Solvang, the tiny Danish town a couple hours outside of Los Angeles and grabbed a cinnamon roll at Pismo Beach near San Luis Obispo. I made small talk with locals, and went on a group tour of Hearst Castle.
While all of this was happening though, I felt a heaviness that I couldn’t seem to explain. Naturally, I attributed it to the weather — it had been gloomy all day, not exactly ideal for a drive up the coast — but I was determined to not let it get me down. It wasn’t until I was driving to my Airbnb (it was pouring and I was kind of lost) that I began to question everything and my mind started spiraling. Did I really decide to spend the next two nights in a converted school bus in the middle of nowhere with complete strangers? Did I really just quit my job in search of I don’t what?
I crawled into the bed on my bus (which to my delight was extremely comfortable) and had a couple sips of red wine to calm my thoughts. And then I was alarmed that I did that. But hey, it worked, and I quickly fell asleep.
Part of the reason I chose this Airbnb was because of the sunrise yoga the host taught in the main house each morning. Very Eat Pray Love, right? I thought so too, and it was in fact the perfect antidote to what I was experiencing the night before. Before the practice, the host gave a short talk on finding truth and how each person has a different framework for doing so. He taught us that our thoughts are not necessarily indicative of our truth. You have to work to separate your thoughts and cultivate what is true for you. Talk about a timely message. He then lead us through a series of stretches and breathing exercises that provided a level of grounding my body was craving.
After the yoga session, I listened to the host and another guest get into a deep philosophical conversation about the relationship between religion and language and how we isolate one another without ever intending to just based on the words we use. I was so out of my element that I didn’t have a word to add to the conversation. But the mere exposure to their dialogue made me realize how much more is out there that I am unaware of. That my very limited experience, my truth until that point, was such a small sliver of what the environment around me had to offer.
I felt calmer the rest of that day. I went about exploring Monterey and Carmel by the Sea, and quickly fell for both. I loved people watching in Carmel, speculating about the lives of the older couple that walked into the fancy restaurant or the dad that was on the beach alone with his young daughter and his dog. What frameworks had they created for understanding the truth in their own lives?
I went to bed the second day a lot happier, more at ease. Time and space were beginning to work their magic.
It was pouring when I woke up the next morning. Like, east coast pouring, not whatever I had become accustomed to when it rained in LA. Knowing that my drive up the coast to San Francisco would be no fun in this weather, I decided to stay in my bus a little longer. I knew that I wanted to dedicate a part of this trip to writing and getting my thoughts off my chest, so I took out my laptop and began to type. What was released were all the thoughts and anxiety I had experienced at the time I quit my job two weeks beforehand. The rain poured harder; I continued to type through the tears while laying on my tempurpedic bed, in my converted mini school bus, on a ranch in the middle of nowhere in Salinas, a town known for its authors. You can’t make this shit up.
Having released through words so much of the tension I was holding onto, I felt lighter. As I eventually drove off the ranch, the sky began to clear and the sun came out, eager to show off after days of not being seen. Each quick stop I made along the coastline on the way to SF was now seemingly more beautiful. What I was beginning to appreciate was the art of letting go.
In SF I was reunited with friends who provided the icing on the cake. And when it came time to find my way back home to LA, I did so feeling at ease, at least for now, knowing that time and space would always be just a car ride and a podcast away.