My daughter turned 2 months yesterday. It was a moment of realisation, just watching her, in my arms, and listening to her sleep.
Would she too, one day, pack her bag and follow her heart to a far away land, somewhere on the other side of the world? If she is anything like me, she really might.
When I was 7 my favourite game was to take the huge World Atlas book (so heavy I could barely lift it back then) we had, ask my sister to open up any page for me and then start searching the small images of airplanes which marked the places of airports. I loved maps, following the rivers with my finger, trying to read all the fascinating names of far away towns and places.
Late morning before climbing a hill in Leh (Ladakh, India, 2007)
A couple of years from that my sister (who is 11 years older than me btw) packed her bag and set her way to travel in Asia for 6 months. When she returned, she brought all kinds of exotic things she had gathered from Nepal, China and India. Fabrics with elephants on them, wooden pearls and tiny colourful bags with foreign coins inside. They all smelled like jasmine and patchouli incense.
For me she had brought a small necklace which was made of some cheap foreign metal.
This is AUMMM…It means the sound of the Universe, she said.
Indeed, it was the Indian symbol of OM, tied to a string. At that time I didn’t quite understand what she meant, how could the Universe have a sound and why had’t we learned about it in our school. It was that day I first realised there is so much out there I should see. I wanted to find this sound, I wanted to find it all.
It was that exact day I decided that when I was old enough, I too would travel to India.
Almost on top of the hill, Leh (Ladakh, India).
Yes. I was THAT small when I discovered a feeling that there is something bigger out there to discover, an ache in my heart to go explore, to hunt until I find it. And ever since, my wild little heart grew hungrier, seeking ways to dull the ache.
This of course lead me to pack my bag and travel as much I could, to live in other countries, to work there, make friends, fall in love and break my heart, to disappear, travel some more, moving to another country and do it all over again.
For years, since 19 years old, I was wanderlusting, trying my best to find my place, find my people, find myself. Yet no matter how far and to how many destinations I tried, I ended up running in circles and repeating a pattern of getting even more lost that I was to begin with. After every fail and every fall, my heart always seemed to be thirstier, anxiously rushing the blood to every corner of my being, crying for another ticket, another destination, a way to feel at ease.
This lead to a complete burnout. My heart was so tired of being broken that one day I remember looking at myself in the mirror and it was like looking at someone else, someone exhausted and sad. My heart desperately needed a break from all that breaking.
Shortly after that I discovered ashtanga yoga which turned the world upside down in front of me and, no, not just with headstands.
And so I got myself a ticket to the most magical and real journey of my life.
“Yoga begins with listening. When we listen we create space.” -Richard Freeman
All this while, all these years, this is what my heart was trying to tell me. Not to try and tame her, not to dull the ache by reaching out for answers. But to listen. To turn inwards, and listen.
That is exactly what I began learning on the yoga mat. While reaching for my toes, sweating and breathing, day after day, almost automatically I began reaching inwards. First for me to find messy noise and cries only to start understanding and to give time to heal. Then to make friends again, to learn to respect and to love again. All this while I had ignored the real source of answers, the voice within.
Finding the Universe within was enough for the outside world to unfold. Only now I realise how wrong I was, how lost I was in the noise and how finally when I gave myself the time to breathe and listen, everything I love just began happening.
I still travel a lot (by myself and with my beautiful family) and I do think it is one of the most eye and heart opening way to discover things about yourself and to learn compassion, empathy or strenght. But truly knowing yourself, connecting with your inner voice, is not the result of roaming the world.
Yesterday, rocking my little girl in my arms, listening to the sound of her sleeping, I knew, that now, after all the ups and downs, I did end up finding the sound of the Universe. The sound of my Universe.
On top with the Himalayas behind me, (Leh, Ladakh, India)