Monday, June 16, 2014

Today at 50

I woke up early on May 25. I climbed out of bed and moved to the outside balcony so I could contemplate my life. I honestly expected a lightening bolt to strike me with sudden wisdom and I didn’t want my roommate, Frances, to become collateral damage.

While I sat outside in the early dawn I thought – this is it. I am now 50 years old. I am in an amazing hotel in the middle of Ubud, Bali in Indonesia. I am exactly where I wanted to be when I started planning this trip some 18 months ago.

Part of my journey was to discover myself at 50. My plan was to travel around; me, my journal and my camera. In the end I found that in reality it was just me. The other things were accessories and not absolutely needed for the trip.

I am currently sitting on the flight from LAX to Miami, en route home. I wanted to return with the wisdom of Yoda, the lyrics of Khalil Gibran and the story telling ability of Maya Angelou (who passed away while I was travelling). Instead, I have been imbued with the knowledge that I am still who I am, no matter what part of the world I happen to be in.

I am truly grateful for the fact that I have been able to take advantage of the opportunities that came my way. I have also learned that regardless of where I am, I still have to be able to face myself, look at myself in the mirror and meet my eyes and like the person I am, the person I am becoming and forgive myself for any perceived missteps or short comings.

Part of my goal for this trip was to be open to whatever happened, whatever came up.

One of the more random things I did was travel to a place called Yogyakarta with Frances. Before the trip, I had never heard of the place and we were going to be there for less than 24 hours. But what the heck -

Later in Melaka, I randomly stopped to taste the wares of a street vendor. I sat at the only table with an empty seat. There was a lady beside me and we started talking. She was from Singapore and told me about the research she was conducting for her Masters thesis. She asked me if I have been to the museum. I hadn’t, so decided to accompany her to the museum.

Initially I didn’t want to take the guided tour but in the end I took it. I’m happy I did. I learned a great deal about the Baban and Nyongo (need to check the spelling) – these are the descendants of Chinese men who came to Malayasia and married Malay women.

I am eternally grateful to the women who joined me in Bali to kick start the celebrations. Frances traveled from Bermuda, Sharon from Singapore, Mariam and Fatima came from Bahrain. There is something special about women gathering. We all come from different backgrounds and perspectives. We came with open hearts and a willingness to be together and experience Ubud.

All I can say, is I had a fabulous time. I learned from them. I laughed with them. I appreciated them. They each helped to define this journey.

So what did I learn? Everything and nothing. Everything I need to know is already inside of I and I don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to discover it. I can sit on the front porch of my house and know all I need to know about myself. However sometimes you have to make the journey in order to absorb the knowledge and rest assured that you really aren’t missing anything.

As I reflect on the last three weeks I am left with a profound sense of gratitude. I am still teary – I have been assured the tears are a process of going through menopause. I have also been told that I am still at the start of the process. I’m not deeply into it yet. Yay! I have that to look forward to!

My closing thoughts? 50! Wow! What a feeling! 

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