Breaking free from everything I once knew was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life.
When you journey into the unknown, out of the shackled cages of conformity and feel alive with every fibre of your being, that’s the moment you realize with absolute conviction, that you can never go back.
How does one begin to tell of things they have seen with eyes opened anew? How do they express their heart’s expansion into a realm where love reigns over fear? How does one tell about the girl who broke free? Who smashed her dying soul into the ground and watched as it sprouted back scarlet petals and ruby thorns?
After having hit rock bottom, I finally exited the life that had brought me so much pain and misery.
Having been brought up in a metropolis, I knew nothing better than to be another rat in the race. Until I ended up in a psychiatrist’s chair with a broken soul.
With nothing but a distant (yet clear) dream I had as a child, to one day live the simple life off the land, I bought myself a one way ticket to Normandy, France where my first “wwoofing” farm awaited.
Wwoofing, an acronym for “Willing Worker’s on Organic Farms,” was a magical idea that had been planted in my mind four years prior by a French couple I met at a bus stop during a monsoon in Laos.
It wasn’t until I had tremblingly mustered the courage to end my “successful” life, that I finally took the plunge and started my wwoofing journey. A journey that would lead me all across Europe, one farm at a time.
As I began to dig my fingers into the earth, drink milk straight from the udder and awaken to the crow of roosters, I realized that I had found my place in the world and that I had found myself in the process.
As I began my transformation into the person I never had the chance to be, with a deeper experience of what farm life was truly like, I began a blog. This blog was to document my months off the grid and spill my soul through flickering fingers and kino blinks.
My stories, adventures, challenges and words of encouragement were always intended to share, inspire and encourage those who chose to read them.
My words were for the tired, tortured souls twisted in the wires of the man-made machine. For the solitary spirits soiling for nourishment and meaning. I wanted them to read my tales, to let it fill their organs with heat and send electricity up their spines.
I wrote of a world that exists, in the here and now, that is quiet and slow.
Where the soil cleans your skin and the sun kisses your eyes. A world where hollow shells are filled with milk and honey. Where horses take your pain and push them deep into the earth with their hoofs.
A world that forces you to face yourself, completely and wholly.
A world that forces you to see how utterly beautiful you are. A world that unplugs you from the polluted rat race of consumer society and pulls away the curtain.
I now want to share the beacons to the philosophies and rosebuds that I gathered from my wwoofing journey.
They are words that I have whispered in my own ear when faced with certain challenges that endangered my journey and spirit.
They are my concluding words of wisdom to any bird who is thinking of breaking free to begin their journey of self discovery, be it as a wwoofer or pure nomad.
1. Put trust back in humanity.
The love and kindness that was bestowed upon me by strangers all around Europe left me sobbing with disbelief.
We are each other. You are me and I am you.
Look after one other.
2. Follow your heart and listen to your instinct.
Forget about five year plans. Forget about six month plans.
Allow plans to change, always.
3. Forget everything they taught you.
Dance away from it. They only want you to see what they want you to see.
Go in search of your own truth.
4. Protect yourself.
Not everyone will understand. There are five layers to your soul.
Show them the surface and see if they dig to find out what’s deeper.
5. Love freely.
Give your heart to people who will honor it and give it completely. Don’t try to keep it for your own protection.
Life is too short. Love with all your heart.
7. Keep moving forward, onwards, forwards.
Don’t go backwards.
And, if you find yourself having gone backwards, let it propel you forward with greater fervor.
7. Travel light.
The less you have the more you are and the freer you are to move, change and adapt.
I quickly began a ritual of offloading five items from my backpack with every farm I left, shedding old skin in order to grow a new layer.
But only when instincts are in tune.
The universe will test and replenish you with the good souls of the road that she sends your way.
9. Don’t be scared to walk away.
If you’ve fallen into a situation that is hurting you, polluting you or making you uncomfortable, leave.
Just stand up and walk away.
Forget about etiquette, forget about verbal promises. Protect yourself. Your heart comes first.
10. Be brave.
Nothing spectacular ever came from remaining safe.
Every time I crossed another border on my own, or hitchhiked across the country, or couch-surfed with strangers or stood up and walked away, I would smile and whisper to myself:
“You’re so brave.”
Being able to say that to myself was one of the biggest transformations I experienced.
So, break free!
Tell your tales and try wwoofing.
May your journey elevate your soul to a place of harmony and meaning. May it propel you to seek a world that gives you what I have found—complete and utter happiness.
Author: Tara Minshull
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Travis May
Photo: Courtesy of the author.