Sen Ryo No Tabi Mo…

I’ve written before about the magic of departures, but I still don’t think I’ve captured the essence. Was visiting my mom in LA earlier this week, having flown myself down; beautiful scattered stratus below the Salinas valley, unbroken cerulean sky above, and a 30 knot tailwind at my back – what’s not to like?

Any journey away, though – usually – is followed by the coming back, which is a journey in itself. So there I was, running back and forth at my mom’s place, making sure I’d packed my toiletries, filled my water bottles, gotten the used sheets into the laundry – oh crap, there’s my razor still on the counter – and where did I put the water bottle I’d just filled? The usual chaos, you know.

I don’t have words for the feelings that build up during these moments. It’s as if, with each item I’m checking off that not-so-imaginary checklist, I’m inhaling just a little more, storing up a little more reserve of “being ready to go”. Which is good, in general, but very soon you get to that point where your lungs are full, but there are still a dozen things left to do, and a dozen more tiny little breaths to take in. You – or rather I – feel like I’m going to burst.

And then it’s time. For me, it’s a different sense of the Japanese proverb: “The journey of a thousand miles also begins with one step” (Sen ryo no tabi mo issho kara). That “also” is somehow important. It emphasizes that it’s not only the big things where that first step matters – it’s everything. Channeling WH Murray, to actually begin anything really is the most important step. My journey today isn’t 1000 miles, it’s only about 325 as the pablo flies. But all the spinning about, fretting and packing has been winding up the spring, until I’m so taut that I could snap. Or burst, going back to my inhaling-with-every-little-task analogy.

Then there’s that moment. Everything is as ready as it’s going to be. I’ve said goodbye and my bags are at my feet. I let my breath out, open the door, and step across the threshold into flowing magic of a new journey.

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