Navigating Through Chaos

Yesterday, was one of those days that initially seemed to be a complete waste of time. Which is fine, that is something I have an abundance of right now. No harm done. But I can’t help but feel a little ashamed of my reactions during the process. Why is it so easy to abandon myself when I really need it? Let me start from the beginning. I started the day as I often do, procrastinating doing yoga and meditation, thinking I will get to it at some point. I started replying to housesit appointments and all of a sudden my computer freezes up. No big deal, in the PC world this kind of thing happens all the time. No reason why Macs wouldn’t have this issue as well, right? I hold down the power butting restarting the computer and I get a flashing folder with a question mark in it. I used my iPad and found out that this is a hard drive issue and it normally corrects itself with running internet recovery. Unfortunately, that didn’t help either. I start to worry. I get on the phone to Apple support and they said it has to do with my internet connection. Since I’m staying in an Airbnb I don’t have an ethernet cord blah blah blah. The technician recommends I take it into the Apple store in Barcelona. I figured this would be a good time for me to rent a car as I have to pick up my passport in Barcelona next week, then go again on Saturday to the airport. The train ticket to Salou is about $10-$20 each way so this just made sense. I setup a car reservation with Europcar and it was much cheaper to pick this up at the Barcelona airport. I put my MacBook in my backpack and get on the train to Barcelona. Here is where I find out that Rachel, my friend and fellow marketing professional who I met in Norway, got deported back to Seattle! She tried to fly to the UK with a one-way plane ticket. She was stopped at immigration and detained for over 7 hours as they verified the names, phone numbers, addresses she had given them regarding her house-sitting stay in the UK. In the end, she didn’t make it in and they paid and escorted her onto a plane back to Seattle. She told me how terrifying and dehumanizing the whole experience was. I just couldn’t believe it. It appears there has been a large influx of American, for lack of a better word, refugees that are running off to England. Since England is no longer part of the European Union, they are solely taking immigration into their own hands and putting tight restrictions on foreign travelers. After learning about this, I freaked out! I have spent the last week organizing at least 5 housesits in the UK starting September 15th through early January. What would happen if they didn’t allow me into the country?? Suddenly, I have this enormous, unexpected hurdle I have to solve in order to get Chewy and myself into the UK. I immediately started thinking about all of the families I was going to disappoint. All of these people I have assured via FaceTime that their animals will be well taken care of. I was going to get terrible reviews now!! Then if they made me come back to Boulder, where would I go? What would I do next? Should I just give up traveling?? Anyway, this was nothing short of overreacting. By the time I made it to the airport to get my week long rental car, I was so distraught, my energy was terribly low. I go up to the counter at Europcar and right before he handed the keys he asked “could I look at your passport?” I told him it was with the US Embassy as I am in the process of getting it renewed. After talking to a couple of people, he sadly told me I wouldn’t be able to rent a car without a passport. I went to another agency and they told me the same thing. Damn! Why didn’t I think about this? I have my current US drivers license which I verified online, that this is enough to rent a car in Europe, but I didn’t realize I needed a passport as well. Here begins the feeling of dread and despair. Now I am thinking, I can’t even rent a car, how do I expect to get into England with no issues? I’m traveling alone! Oh poor me, how could I think I was even capable of this?? Suddenly, it felt like everything was crumbling apart. All of the traveling and obstacles I have overcome thus far essentially meant nothing in that particular moment. I was very aware of my thoughts and this just made me chastise myself more. However, there was a very small inner voice trying to peak through, “these are just thoughts, you can overcome this.” I push it away. I’m not listening to myself, willfully neglecting my superpower. AlI can do is feel terrible. Anguish, this stupid emotion that I go to out of habit, not necessity. I sit down at the airport and just try not to think, try not to cry. Feeling utterly defeated. I take a few deep breaths and decide to get some food as I hadn’t eaten anything yet that day (another mistake!). On the way to McDonalds (don’t judge) there is a latin man walking next to me acting very desperate, asking me for a handout in very quick Spanish. I don’t even stop walking, but reach in my pocket and give him a 1 euro coin. He then says, no he needs more for his ticket for something. Immediately, I’m like, wow the people that beg here are certainly insistent. I again reach in my pocket, this time pulling out a 2 euro coin. His face lights up! He thanks me emphatically and then kisses my hand. He was visibly delighted and then ran off. I was a little weirded out by the encounter, but it also felt good. His hands and face were warm and I walked away thrilled that I could make someone so happy so easily. I wondered what kinds of troubles he was facing. After I sat down with my cheese croquettes and french fries, it occurred to me how difficult it must be for that man to travel like I am. I then suddenly felt awful for all the non-privileged/non-white people that have to go through consistent scrutiny just to get back to their own country. Their difficulties are on a completely different level than mine. I couldn’t possibly know what that was like, but I could try to understand. Fortunately, the food got me to take the first steps that eventually carried me through a sequence of trains that returned me back to Salou. I had forgotten all about my laptop which was safely secured in my backpack the entire trip. Perhaps it wasn’t such a waste of day after all.
Looking back, the train from Barcelona was quite fascinating. During the 2 hour trip, I went from total chaos and hysteria to more calm and peaceful. I was finally able to comprehend that I’ll figure it out. I always do! I could finally hear that inner voice that I was so desperately pushing away. Then without any explanation my laptop worked perfectly once I returned home. Today, the next morning, I reflect back on the entire experience with bewilderment and humor. Like it wasn’t even me! I was very stubbornly resolved to going down the rabbit hole of doom and gloom. It felt childish, even silly. It wasn’t until I physically started moving my body that it distracted me enough to let go of the inner turmoil and myself for a bit. Denise always says, “get out of your mind and into your body.” I think I finally understand the significance of this statement. Just putting one foot in front of the other helps us to move on to something else. It sounds so simple. But it works sensationally to change our perspective and essentially our mood. I recommend this for anyone currently going through the emotional roller coaster of despair. We can make walking our go to habit. Because regardless what country I am in, shit is going to happen. I can’t necessarily say that when it happens again, I will automatically listen to myself right away. But I know it will get easier and I know the actions I can take to get me there. Traveling can certainly be stressful, but it definitely puts me in an environment where I am forced to work out the issue. What is the alternative? I didn’t want to stay sitting alone in the airport all night. Believe me the thought did cross my mind! 🙂 I had to get back to Chewy who was happily dreaming, completely unaware of my meltdown. I had to get back in my body so could feel better that would then allow the answers to come to me. I needed to get a bigger picture that really put my life and troubles into perspective. I can’t explain how grateful I am to be able to learn these lessons. Sometimes it feels like I am navigating through the double-black diamond course of life. However, today is the first day I have truly and entirely appreciated it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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