Seeker, wanderer, floater, gypsy ... these are terms I’ve used to define my wanderlust. With wide-eyed wonder and a pack on my back, I entered into a relationship with the world outside my hometown, I tasted adventure and I wanted more. I made a commitment to trust the subtle winds that whispered where to go next. I learned how public transportation worked in languages I didn't speak. Counting stamps in my passport and buying new pages to fill, I never stayed put for very long.
It took one look from an old Quechua woman to realize that I was done searching, that I had already arrived. I imagine it was akin to an ayahuasca journey; discovering that time had no application. It was an eternal moment. There in the Amazon forest, boots stuck in the mud, I found my religion.
Her face had more ridges than the trees, skin roughened by time. Her deeply set eyes pierced my soul. Contentment resonated in my entire being. I was inspired. She emanated wisdom that taught me more than could ever be said with words.
I travelled to Ecuador as a volunteer to bring dental health to children in remote rural schools. Armed with toothbrushes and helpful intentions, I was feeling useful. In the moment her deep amber eyes held mine, I felt like a silly child. That moment changed the way I see the world. To this stranger, I am indebted.
Trekking uphill through the sludge was hard on my pride. I thought I was fit and had recently competed in a marathon. The terrain was foreign and discouraging. The old woman was half my size, barefoot, and agile. With graceful strength she carried goods and a child back to her distant village; gliding as if on top of the mud, and then she disappeared. I wonder to this day if she was real.
Had I tried to communicate, I'm sure the magic would have vanished. I wonder about her from time to time. I've seen her in paintings and in trees. She reminds me to come home to the present moment. No matter where I am, I am reminded of her fierce yet peaceful stillness. She reminds me that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.
Life is not about how far I've traveled, how wild my adventures are, but about feeling connected to my feet and the ground underneath them. I am reminded to trust the lessons and blessings of the earth. In time I travel, in the wisdom of the present, I know I have arrived.