[Note: I am currently away on my first vacation in almost two years, on a cruise to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, accompanied by my husband and our son and daughter-in-law. I’ve never been on a cruise, and it’s certainly not something I would have chosen for myself. But needs must.]
The first two days of vacation, I realize now on Day 3, are really all about a gradual lowering of expectations, of standards, if you will, as you shift away from Doing and more into Being. This transition is not an easy one, and may be accompanied by feelings of irritation, restlessness, grumpiness, and a contradictory overwhelming desire to sleep. [Note: if you are accompanied by a spouse who simply cannot sit still, these symptoms may be further aggravated.]
Basically, I see now: in the first two days Resistance rears its lovely familiar head, digging in its heels, kicking and screaming, and wanting nothing more than a return to the same, to what we generally do, day in, day out. OH GOD NO, it cries with everything it’s worth, PLEASE, for the love of all you supposedly cherish, please don’t let your boundaries dissolve.
Please remain intact.
Being somewhat lost, or out and out lost, on a cruise ship for 48 hours also adds to these feelings, as does the gentle rocking of the boat. Replacing what was steady ground, the familiar ground under our feet, with everything unfamiliar, with a total loss of control, a relinquishing of the habits that corset the everyday of our so-called real life.
And then, the people. Being surrounded by thousands of others, who in the first few days we regard as entirely alien, as separate from ourselves, in the “Good Lord, where did you come from” kind of way. You know. In the judge-y way.
All of this wiped away, replaced entirely on the morning of Day 3, as we enter tropical waters and the air is notably warmer, with a recognition that oh, of course, I needed this.
All of that prickly annoyance I felt for the first two days? That was just Resistance, that was just that hard carapace of habit trying to come to my rescue – to keep me safe inside The Known – to keep me from feeling what might be possible if I let the edges blur, if I stopped thinking of everyone else I see as somehow separate from myself, if I could just allow for what is ultimately always the truth, hidden under the dross of the busy-ness:
That I am no different.
That I am not separate.
That I am not afraid that if I let my guard down, I will disappear.
I let my guard down.
I am still here.
I am still here but awake in a way I haven’t been for ages. [Sleeping a lot helps with that.] I find that I’m wondering more than I’m judging, smiling more than I’m scowling, staring at the wake behind the boat, at that remarkable blue as we motor across the vast and powerful Pacific, and feeling happy and calm and fine.
Part of the difference? Last night was formal night. Seeing everyone in their version of their Best, was so cute. Especially as we watched families ahead of ours wait their turn for their photos to be taken by the cruise photographer. My heart cracked open over and over again you know, like it does during the opening credits of Love Actually. Look, those people seated near us nightly in the dining room whom I hadn’t really looked at closely before: Look. How. Flipping. Cute. They. Are. It’s like I suddenly saw everything differently, through the photographer’s lens as it were. Everyone: shiny. Bright. Beautiful.
Everyone: shiny. Bright. Beautiful.
It occurs to me that maybe being on a cruise is a spiritual practice. I know, that sounds like vacation delirium kicking in, right? But truly, I mean it: letting go of everything that you think defines you, the you that you are every day, and letting what is always there rise up to the surface, take over. Dissolving the edges. Becoming no one. Becoming you.