Published July 28, 2010 – Asheville Citizen Times
It was exactly one year ago that I was in India. The fulfillment of a longstanding dream to return after my first trip 22 years before. In the midst of a painful, drawn out divorce and on the heels of an arduous move out of the mega-marital home into my precious tiny cottage, I packed my backpack and headed to India for a month with my former college professor. There would be 17 of us, a mix of current students and alumni, traveling for the purpose of cultural immersion and experience. For me the trip was research based doing a cultural anthropological comparative study of India, and a huge spiritual opportunity for growth and reflection. India had opened my heart and changed my life 22 years before and I knew that this trip had the potential to help me profoundly with my healing. India and I would be taking our relationship much deeper because of the passion I had for her that had never left me in all these years. To return was truly the fulfillment of my heart’s prayer.
The three previous years had been something to be endured and overcome beginning with the death of my father, followed the next year by the death of my grandfather who raised me and then separating from my husband of 17 years. Relentless tragedies that brought shock, loss, betrayal, and even estrangement from my two teenaged daughters had rocked me to my very core for months on end. Moving out of the marital home had been exhausting and disorienting as well as freeing to my soul, which I likened to moving out of a sarcophagus into the light. Things were beginning to turn for me and still there was much to be endured, all of it unknown with no hope for predicting the outcome of the divorce settlement or the future of my relationship with my daughters. The life shattering changes I had survived so far had leveled all that I had ever really known and lived for. From this groundless place, I went to India.
So here I was facing the trip of a lifetime and doubting my very core and ability to do this for myself. The main part of the trip was a trek into the Himalayas up to 16000 feet. I was excited and anxious with self doubt. Would I be able to do it? Would I get sick? Would I be able to take care of myself? Would I hate it? I wanted to climb those mountains and discover that I was as tenacious, strong and determined as I hoped. Still my mind was relentless and had me wondering what truths about myself I would confront on this trek including the fear of disappointing myself.
The trek took me deep within and revealed much to me. One of the insights that came was to see the analogy between what was needed to complete the hike and to see my divorce through to the end. Both would require endurance, pacing and perspective. The trek could only be done one step at a time, one day at a time. To look too far ahead was overwhelming and created only self doubt. Elevation changes, rivers to forge, elements to be endured and worked with. At the same time, as I breathlessly chanted affirmations to myself to get me through, I knew to look up and around and not miss the beauty that surrounded me.
I can still remember the day that I felt how much like my divorce the trek was for me. I knew both would be complete – eventually – and all I could do was surrender to my heart and trust that I would be given what was needed to see each through. One step, one day at a time. As things were being leveled and cleared in my life, I knew deep inside that fertile soil was being cultivated for the emergence of my new life. I have always believed that the gift waiting for us on the other side of a struggle is equal to what is endured. To live a life where I am present to the gifts as well as the challenges was the only way to come through this time with an open heart that was ready to receive what the Universe had in store for me. With these gifts clear in my mind and heart, I went on to complete the trek and my divorce successfully.