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August 17, 2020

What 2020 Taught me about the Race I Never Knew I was Running.

I read an article on CNN the other day that got me thinking of the American passport as a type of currency, an inherent power.

I came across this article because I was feverishly Googling questions like “where can Americans travel right now?” and “which countries are accepting US passports?” The urge to get back out into the world and explore is undeniably screaming in my ear. 

Over the last few months, I’ve had the brilliant opportunity to meet with several intuitives, energy healers, healthcare workers, and mental health professionals—all under the umbrella of my own healing and growth journey. Each of these souls communicated the same thing to me, in their respective specialized languages: the pandemic has triggered absolutely everyone’s addiction and attachment wounds. 

During the early days of lockdown, I dove deep into learning about attachment styles, as I could feel my own attachment wound aching to be deeply seen, held, and healed. I dove deeper into my meditation and yoga practices, and increased the miles I was running. I, like many, went deep into my own journey. Without the ability to explore the world at will or even just hug my damn family, I had no choice but to deepen my journey inward. 

Then the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery forced me to do something I’d neglected for 33 years: face my own damn privilege. Growing up and living in one of the whitest states in the country, it had never occurred to me that I get to walk and run the streets free of fear; I get to earn a paycheck, and I was allowed to get an education.

When the lockdown hit, when my eyes were forced open up to my own privilege, my shadow side reared her dark head—“run” was all I could hear. Forced, for the first time in my life, to stay, to not run, I realized that when we stick around, eyes open, hearts and wounds bared for all to see, that’s where the growth is. It’s not in the thing I’ve been after all these years—it’s simply not in the destinations.

For years, without even realizing it, I’ve been on the run. The most privileged run that a person’s feet could ever take, that of the jet-setting, globe-trotting millennial.

After getting divorced at such a young age, and realizing I had so much of the world I wanted to see, I hit the newly single ground at a frantic pace. I fell for my own wanderlust harder than I’d fallen for any lover before, and promised myself that I’d go wherever my heart, wallet, and vacation time allowed.

In the last four years, I’ve travelled alone to Phoenix, Houston, Miami, Cuba, and have been lucky enough to experience camping in the Redwoods, the jungles, and beaches of Costa Rica, and feel the magic of northern Portugal. Throughout each of these experiences, I told myself I was learning something new each time; either about how to move through the world alone, or about a new culture or new environment.

What I had turned a blind eye to was what 2020 has forced me to see: I was ignoring the privilege of the color of my skin, my upbringing, and even my country of origin. I’d been carrying these currencies, a wealth of them at that, and had never stopped to even consider my own richness. I’ve been running all these years without looking down to realize or appreciate that I’m wearing the most expensive pair of shoes money can buy. 

During lockdown, the protests, in this time of necessary upheaval, in looking at my attachment wounds, and at my privilege—I’m realizing something majorly unnerving for a mindfulness practitioner: I’ve been running, mindlessly. This “go see all the places,” or “look at this influencer or that influencer,” or “surely I must go see Croatia and Greece and India and Iceland and New Zealand andetc.” run that I’ve been on has not allowed me to be truly present. I’ve been chasing the next high of seeing the next country, the next exotic location. 

In being forced to face my privilege, forced to stay put these past few months, my wounds are wide out in the open for those in my life to actually see—free of the bandage or crutch of talking about my next big adventure, free of my ego’s desperate cry of “look! I’m worthy of your time, I do cool sh*t!” and free of the currency of this passport that is now virtually worthless. 

I’ve always subscribed to the notion that things don’t bring me joy or happiness; people and experiences do. In this reflective time, I’ve learned that while that’s true, I’ve too easily turned the most valuable experiences in my life into just another thing that I’m chasing.

With travel screeched to a halt, without the external experiences enabling my growth, I’ve been forced to step into true mindfulness. Our growth, our healing as a collective, is inside—never just outward. If we are truly looking to heal the wounds inherent to our political and culture systems, we all must stop running and look deeply inward. 

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