This has been the boldest and most beautiful 5 months of my life.
I also seem to have forgotten surprisingly quickly how incredibly hard parts of this round the world trip were. Just to recap, when I finally booked all my flights I had been discharged from my physio and was walking proper distances again. And then, as I started to dip shortly before I left the country, I collapsed into another wheelchair just before my first flight left Heathrow. I had no idea then that I was sinking into a physical crash that would take me nearly three months and a few more wheelchairs to recover from. I didn’t know at the time that this is exactly how this illness works - it is that cruel, that hard and I was one of the few lucky people to have managed to escape even that far.
The first half of this journey was this strange mixture of loving the adventure and being wherever I was all thrown together with deep disappointment, fear, sadness and so much uncertainty as to my physical state. No rational person wouldn’t have questioned the sanity of what I was up to. Travelling, even when it was sometimes such an effort to leave my bed - wherever that bed was. Travelling when in certain moments I wasn’t sure I could make the stairs. And for quite a bit of that time I was travelling alone.
I clearly wasn’t totally off my rocker though because here I am now.
I had a calling.
The wild called me.
That’s all I can say. I knew that nature could heal. I knew that these were places I needed to get myself to. I knew that this trip was my way of taking back a divine paper and pen and saying, “No. the story doesn’t go like that. It goes like this”.
My flight from Boston to Heathrow is about to land soon. The pilot just announced that we are over Wales and I almost felt my eyes water. Home. I’ve done it. This journey - this part of the journey - is over.
No one knows if ME/CFS is ‘over’ for me now. It’s a question I have learned to let go of. I don’t know. But this morning I am coming back physically strong. I am well. And peaceful.
And the unseen: there have been deeper changes.
I won’t put into words what I was looking for. I’ll take a guess that like all the best things it has to go beyond words. But I can tell you that I found it. I found it in the skies, the seas, rivers and lakes, the forests, the rocks, the shells, the plants, the mountain ranges, the strange bugs and above all, the silence. I found it in connecting with long lost and scattered friends, new friends and endless interactions with strangers. I found it in a huge amount of kindness. I found it in not knowing what the hell I was doing while in a deeper, though less conscious part of myself I probably knew exactly what I was doing. I found it in the adventure.
A pivotal moment of the turn-around happened in a silent retreat and six weeks I spent living on a New Zealand mountain top, learning a way of living that it's likely I will carry with me. And after a small but very disconcerting set back in The Cook Islands, I found all I needed for a second turn around in the limitless skies and crystal seas of a South Pacific atoll.
Like so many true travellers tales, what I was seeking was waiting quietly inside of me all along. Only it seems I had to go a very long way into the unknown to find it.
An ME/CFS Thriver