The last three years have been full of travel.
Not the travel that involves backpacks and trains and someone noisily rummaging through their luggage in a shared room at 3 in the morning. No, this travel has been internal. I have been journeying to wounds and scars and memories and strength and health and all the while learning that growth comes whether you are moving or not.
The first few years after I moved to this town, I remember being afraid that my growth would stagnate. Someone asked me years ago what my biggest fear was and at the time, without even a forethought, I said simply, “stagnation.”
I was afraid to stop moving. Because in my mind, to stop moving meant to stop growing. At that point, my most profound experiences of growth and transformation had come only with a backpack upon my back and foreign tongues swirling in my head. Pushing myself outside my physical comfort zone was the only way that I knew how to really grow. It was in that space that I shed the stories, shed the performance of myself and got to the essence of me. Then I’d come home again and cling desperately to that essence, vowing to not lose what I’d learned about myself and the places I’d come to discover—vowing to not go back to the old way of being.
But after about six months of moving to Boulder, with no big travel plans in sight, and the novelty of moving to a new place wearing off, I began to fear that staying in one place meant that those periods of profound transformation would come to an end… or at least a temporary end until I packed up and took off again for someplace new.
But instead, something else happened. Something that has only become really clear to me in this time when I am in fact packing up my backpack and preparing for another journey. Seven years after moving to this town, seven years filled with struggling to really unpack and settle in, I found that the growth that has happened while staying in the same place is profound—on a level that I’d never known possible.
What happens when our internal environment becomes the place where we are most out of our comfort zone?
What happens when the places that push us and challenge us are not a foreign language or the uncertainty of one’s location, but the foreignness of our own internal landscape?
Because it’s not about place, at least not this time around. It’s not about something outside myself illuminating my essence. This has been an internal process and as such, I carry it with me. It is no longer about being afraid that when the external environment changes I will lose contact with this way that I know myself—and there is something so profoundly liberating about that. There is freedom in knowing myself in this way, and knowing that this self will continue to grow and change and evolve. And with that evolution I have learned to check in and to witness and to see the ways that things shift, and to trust in the unfolding.
I am comfortable now, in this once foreign landscape. I can speak the language, I know the gestures, and I have found some sacred hidden places that are full of joy. This land that was once unfamiliar to me has become my home. That comfort might be temporary, as all resting places really are, but inevitably, deeper travel will be spurred and more internal growth and learning will occur.
The comfortableness arises not necessarily from knowing myself (because that which I know now is bound to change, thank you evolution). No, the comfortableness comes from trusting, trusting my inner explorer and trusting this self that I have come to discover and indeed, love. Trusting the growth and change and trusting the courage to continue exploring, to continue venturing beyond the reaches of what I know and being curious about what else is there.
This internal journey, in the way that I have known it for the past four years, is coming to a shift. An end of sorts, a transition into something else. It’s time for this self that I have discovered to go back out into the world. To learn what its external comfort zones are now, and to push it right out of them.
It feels bittersweet, as transitions often are—full of sadness at the ending and a readiness for what is to come. In this transition between coming and going I find myself feeling grateful for the events that set me on this journey and grateful for the beings that have walked with me through some dark and scary places—reminding me of the ground beneath my feet when it felt as if there was none. And surprisingly enough, I am grateful for the constancy of my external environment (in whatever ways anything is really constant) holding this space for me to delve into my own foreign depths.
This internal landscape is not all known to me; there is so much more territory yet to be discovered, more
wounds to be healed and more tenderness to be found. And so I continue on, with this dance between internal and external. Inhabiting this body in a way that I only could through my internal explorations and carrying it out into the world to now allow my external environment to be the unknown, and to discover new landscapes with these new eyes. All the while knowing that I have found a home in myself, a land that still contains so much un-navigated ground but that now has some familiar resting places to come to when I need to catch my breath and recharge. This traveling is exhilarating and exhausting work. Thank god I get to do it.
Alicia Banister swims in the sea of bodyworkers in Boulder, Colorado as a CranioSacral and Massage Therapist. She is not very good at sleeping late or cutting in a straight line. But, she is really good at regularly feeding her dog, being in the woods, cooking, laughing loudly and often, and making mistakes. She regularly marvels at the human body and the breadth of its inherent healing capacity, as well as the fantastic beings that inhabit those bodies. She makes it a practice to let life humble her as often as possible, and to remember to have a sense of humor about it all. You can find her ramblings at reflectionsmassage.wordpress.com and www.reflectionsintegrativetherapy.com. See more of here elephant articles here.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel