I wake up sweating.
The sun pouring through my window is new and unfamiliar and conspicuously yellow; like a child has drawn thick, waxy rays into my room with a Cornsilk Crayola crayon.
The chickadees outside are putting on a show, whistling melodies that are foreign and exotic, even to my fairly well traveled ears. ‘They must be speaking a different language’ I muse, for they sound distinctly different from the ones at home who croon with a perceptibly Bostonian accent.
The playfully sweet smell of my favorite bougainvillea trees lick the air that my ceiling fan has sent swirling around my head. I throw back my encapsulating mosquito net, swing my bare legs off the bed, and walk to the open window to look at the flowers that hang like fiercely magenta, flowing garments off the trees, and I smile.
I have woken up in Africa.
I was having a moment of anxiety.
I had just put my entire life on hold and was about to board a plane bound for a new city in a new country on a continent I had never been to… and I felt nothing.
Unlike most people, I wasn’t anxious about quitting my job and traveling to a third world nation. To me, a new adventure will always be worth dropping everything because, the way I see it, there in nothing more beneficial than getting a new vantage point. Any perspective I have on this marvelously irregular life and any personal growth I have laboriously (and thankfully) endured has been under the aegis of travel. And all of these things will eternally be more crucial than stability, as far as I’m concerned.
No, it was a more atypical irritant that provoked the mean, ugly anxiety monster that dwells inside me. See, the vexation was that I did just quit my job and I was about to travel (two things that generally send me right over our planet’s glowy, orbiting satellite) but I was numb. Not a butterfly stirred in a stomach that is otherwise densely populated by flying creatures on a regular basis.
I knew what was happening. “It’s coming together really quickly. It doesn’t feel real yet.”
And so my best friend soothed me with a gentle reminder… “This is your dream in life. I’m proud of you and you should be too.”
And she was right. From the moment she and I met 15 years ago I had made it very clear that Africa was my dream.
I could never explain exactly why. Whether it was the animals, the natural beauty begging to link its energy with mine, or the fact that my heart was full of love and compassion for a people hungry for a life like the one I had been blessed with. But since I was a little girl, an outline of Africa was markedly stamped on my heart.
And this dream of mine was about to become my reality. Where were the butterflies?
But as I stood in front of the window this morning, the sun, the music, the flowers, it finally hit me. A sense of victory. A lightness. This was my dream and I was wide awake.
I went to the shelf and pulled down my deck of tarot cards and shuffled them with care. And like I do every other morning, I asked aloud,”What do I need to focus on today?”
I split the deck and pulled the top card. A six of wands.
A butterfly rising from a dark tangle of branches representing victory, success, rising up.
There it was. The butterfly I had so craved. And she was telling me to sit back and revel in the joy of my success. To spread my wings and get a new vantage point.
I walked around with the little buggers in my stomach all day long.