One of my closest friends just pointed out how optimistic all my blogs seem, so I feel I should probably give you all a dose of honesty.
A couple days ago I went to go snorkel with sharks. After sleeping in, catching a cab to the bus, and still arriving too late, well, I wasn’t the cheeriest. I managed to rebook it for 2 hours later, but then major stomach pain hit. I had to cancel it altogether – my money refunded save a $25 cancellation fee, plus I’d taken a $20 cab to make it on time.
I wasn’t happy. I punched a wall. My pinky hurts.
Optimism has not been high. I tell you all this so you know… So you know I’m not some mega traveling machine of bravery. I am not. I want to emphasize this. Many have said how they couldn’t have dealt with the robbery as well as I did. Perhaps it’s true, I did regain my hope and faith after many bouts of anger, shock, hopelessness, and every negative emotion in between. Perhaps not everyone would have had the ability to keep going. But believe me, my strength comes along with all the emotions you would expect to feel.
I want you to know this so that you know that you can do anything. You can do what I’ve done and you can do far crazier things. You can. You just don’t know the strength you have until you have no choice but to use it.
Yesterday was a lovely day of cruising in the convertible with David and Tasha, ending at a beautiful beach in town.
Today marks my final few hours on the beautiful island of O’ahu. I caught a ride to Pearl Harbor, and… Words cannot really express the feelings this place spurred within me.
I was always terrible at history.
I have never much enjoyed museums.
Here, though, I found myself on the verge of tears. The first step was a 20 minute movie detailing the events of that dark day in December of 1941. Why did this touch me so? It is not my country, nor did I know a soul involved in the events that transpired here. But as the attack was described and videos of the huge stacks of smoke bellowing from the sunken ships were displayed, I found myself almost bursting into tears several times.
We took a short boat to the USS Arizona memorial, where over a thousand lives were taken in one day. Some parts of the ship stick out of the water, as the remains stay tragically buried under the water, along with the bodies of most of the men killed that day. It happened on a Sunday morning, around the same time as I visited the memorial on this gloomy Sunday. The images swirled in my mind. Saturday night many had gone in to Honolulu to party and enjoy. They could never have known it would be their last night.
The rain pours down as I wait for a bus from Pearl Harbor to the mall at which David will collect me. It is the rainy season, but in over 2 weeks here, I have not witnessed the pouring rain. It seems to rain almost daily for ten minutes and then cease. Today, though, the rain cries giant tears from the sky. Today, on my final day, my final few hours, it rains.
My trip has been cut short by finances. I am not upset about this, though. I set out with extremely lacking funds, and I knew it. But I also knew I had to escape the trap I had caught myself in back home.
I sat on the couch day after day. Friends invited me to countless things, but I couldn’t get off that couch, not even to simply hang out on a friend’s couch. I was immobilized. The once beautiful ocean shores, the inner harbor, all of it was just… Nothing to me. It had all died. I had died.
When I headed to that ferry from Victoria to Seattle I felt rotten. I felt uneasy. I wanted my couch. I just wanted that couch that had stolen my soul. Or was it me that stole my own soul?
In Seattle I continued my depression. I sat on the couch. I drowned my feelings in beer, but, of course, they could never be fully drowned. My uneasiness and depression did not disappear instantly. Slowly, though, they let up.
When I arrived in San Diego my spirits began to lift. Then they would get shattered again. It was google that informed me that it was Hawai’i that I needed to go to.
Hawai’i has messed with me beyond words. It seems every move I made here – whether while holding my head high and optimistically, or with my tail between my legs – the universe would throw me another curve ball. Rough curve balls, too. This has been my third solo backpacking trip.
The first was after a painful breakup with my first love – I set out a mere week and a half after the breakup, on the trip that we had planned together. Understand that I never in my life would have believed I could do a solo trip. Never. I was pushed out of the nest that December, over three long years ago.
My last trip to South America, though a few months after another painful breakup, had me in a pretty dark place, too. I didn’t get better on that trip. I had expected a similar experience to my first trip. This was naive, and the very search for whatever it was I was searching for made it impossible to reach.
When I returned to Canada in early July, I thought I could rebuild from the ground up. I would find out months later that a large part of my angel, my best friend, moving to Victoria was because she knew. She knew I needed her beyond words. And as I sunk deeper in to a seemingly bottomless pit of depression, she cared for me in more ways than I could ever express.
When I left this time, I had no idea where I was going, nor when or if I would ever return. I knew my finances were not adequate. But I also knew that staying had become an impossibility. As much as the world can mess with me out here, it is nothing compared to the horribleness my own mind brought me back on that couch. It seemed that my options were to leave, or for my soul to die completely. And she was close.
So what of it all? What of it? How is my soul now, and how do I know I will not return to that endless pit?
The depression subsided. I have not been all smiles and cheer, but I have not been depressed, either. It is so crucial to be able to differentiate between depression, and negative emotions. Loneliness, sadness, anger, despair.. They are all emotions I have felt quite frequently on this voyage. But they are not to be confused with depression.
When I was robbed, they took everything. My anti-depressants were in that bag. I could have gone straight to a doctor, armed with my trusty travel insurance. No, I thought. I wanted to get off of the meds. I wanted to see where my mind is truly at at this point. And if depression returned? I would immediately go get my meds replaced.
Nausea, pins and needles, light headedness, and intense night sweats are all still going strong on day 6 off of the meds. The expected negative emotional side effects, however, exist not. I feel a part of my soul, of my very being, retuning. Read my words carefully here; I believe in medications in the right time and place, for the right individual. It upsets me greatly when people have an overall distain for them. Yes, a piece of my soul was taken from me when I was on the meds. And yes, the negative side effects do exist and are entirely unpleasant. But these things, these prices I paid, were far lesser than the high interest cost of struggling with severe untreated clinical depression. If you need help, and you cannot obtain it through meditation, herbal remedies, or the manipulation of your own mind, it is very important to be willing to seek help, but also able to closely monitor yourself. I am blessed with the ability to monitor my own brain to an eery degree. Going on meds does not mean you will always remain on them. It just means you need a little help grabbing hold of your own mind again.
I tell you all this not so you can better understand me, but in the hopes you can better understand yourself; which includes all your glorious flaws, along with the vast power you possess. I am not superhuman. I have no more strength or optimism than you. I simply had no choice, at various periods in my life, than to grab and hold on to that blade. Never let go. Staying on the couch was letting go. Leaving my home… I couldn’t have not done it. And in turn I had to face all of my fears.
A week or so ago my emotions had disappeared. I was numb. I am an emotional person by nature – which means I upset easily, but also that I love with all my heart.
Love was gone. I didn’t even miss my true friends back home. I felt nothing for them, for others, or for myself. I’m sorry to admit this to you all, but it was out of my control.
Was this the meds? Perhaps, though I was on them a couple months prior to experiencing this. There is a song by the Wallflowers called “I wish I felt nothing.” I kept listening to it and thinking, well, feeling nothing is easier at least.
I don’t want that easy road. I want my emotions. The good, the bad, and the disgustingly ugly. They are me. I am emotional. I love with all my heart, I cry with all that I am. I scream with anger and I melt into joy. This is me. And I am awakening again. I am awakening to my feelings. The depression, however, rests in quiet slumber.
The universe threw me curve ball after curve ball, but what it did not attack me with was that great feeling of hopelessness as I fell into a pit. No, that has left. Curve balls of robbery and such are evils I can handle. They are evils that make me stronger.
So I return. I return not as someone new, but as me. I will struggle. I will cry. I will laugh. I will scream. I will bounce with joy – because that is what I do!
What was this trip about? What did I seek? What did I find?
And that is exactly what needed to come of all of this. Nothing. A simple return to a me who can conquer the world, but not without a few broken ribs along the way.
Hawai’i has given me one powerful tool, however, and that is inspiration. It has inspired me to do all that I was always inspired to do. But now I feel able.
The hike up the crater of Diamond Head and up the Pill Box hike were strenuous and painful. My arms ached after kayaking. I couldn’t even paddle back after two hours of surfing.
But I loved it all. God, I loved every second of heaving deep breaths! I loved the strain on my arms as I desperately paddled the kayak back to land, praying that I’d arrive before my arms gave out.
Inspiration to do what I was already inspired to do.
This trip, in this way, has given me nothing.
But when I return, I will hold my head high as I climb mount Douglas – a task far too daunting in the past. I will rent a kayak as I always want to, rather than waiting around for… For what? I will take the two hour bus ride out to the Sooke pot holes I have yet to see.
I will do it all. All that I dreamed of doing, but which that couch prevented me from.
I searched for nothing. I needed only to not remain as I was.
And I found exactly what I sought to find: nothing. Sweet, glorious, beautiful, nothing. For the person I am now – with her ups and downs, her moments of inspiration coupled with moments of despair – she was with me all along. And had I found something, it would have been meaningless.
And I can’t wait to play with all that nothingness upon my return.
My travels are far from over, with many upcoming plans for the next few months. I no longer would like to consider this a travel blog. This is my life. And it is far from over with this tale of my last day spent in Hawai’i. Time to see you all on the other side, as promised.
Oh and a little ps – to my Canadian friends: you can fly round trip to Honolulu for $400 (tax included). Your alcohol will be cheaper here. Meals at a restaurant will be more expensive. Hostels, hotels, even campgrounds are not cheap at all. But in two and a half weeks I have stayed in a hostel only 2 nights – and I did not have to, I only did because I wished to be alone after the robbery. Hawai’i is not for honeymooners and rich people. You, yes you, can very affordably visit this beautiful land. Need advice? I’m here to chat anytime you need. I just want to shatter your illusions – the very same ones I had just a month ago. Hawai’i is in your reach. The world is in your reach.