When you're on social media and follow various travel bloggers and nomads, it's easy to get the impression that world travel is all glitz and glamour. Every day is a photographic worthy day with the perfect lighting and view. There are no cares in the world. In fact, life is perfect. And you wonder why your life isn't like that. How did they get to be so lucky?
If you haven't learned by now (or seen through the filters), people (including me) often put their best self forward on social media. And it's not just with world nomads living or traveling to exotic places; it happens across all groups. Mothers have the perfect children who never scream or embarrass them in public; married couples are living happily ever after; selfies are beautifully taken with no need for a touch-up or filter. Everything is a picture-perfect fantasy.
And while life is glamorous in many ways, setbacks and hardships do occur.
Prior to leaving on my nomadic journey, I set an intention for Thailand to be a place to reset, surrender, and heal. After working a 9-5 for 11 years and always having a full schedule inside and outside of work, I knew I was going to need the time to decompress and unwind. And there are several things from my past that I've needed to surrender and let go of.
Be careful what you ask for.
I arrived in Thailand and hit the ground running. I was getting massages, pedicures, eating fresh fruits and drinking green juice, taking naps, reading and going to yoga. Reset. Surrender. Done. This surrendering thing isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I've totally got this!
My dear host and friend graciously reminded me I was not slowing down. Since I had arrived in Thailand, I had connected with so many new friends; I always had somewhere to be or something to do (even if that included getting a massage); I scheduled excursions in and out of town; I accepted a new job. So maybe by Western standards, I had slowed down. But not in Thailand.
A week after arriving in Thailand, I had gone to the night market with some friends. I had been very diligent in using bug spray since I arrived (mosquitos are unfortunately in love with me). After returning from the night market, I realized I didn't have my key to get in my place and my hosts were still out. And I didn't have my bug spray. So I sat outside on the step and waited while my feet became a feast to a nasty gang of mosquitoes. The next day my poor feet were swollen. I counted more than 50 bites.
Two days after that I started feeling feverish and not well. I assumed it was associated with the mosquito bites and treated them as best I can. The next day, I had no appetite and my stomach began to cramp. And the day after that, more dreaded symptoms began (I'll spare you the details). It's now been 7 days, and I finally feel like I'm on the mends, but still not out of the clear. I ate my first full meal in a week today. I don't have a scale but would have to guess that I've lost at least 5 lbs.
Did I say something about setting an intention for Thailand around resetting, surrendering, and healing? Oh right. Ask and you shall receive.
When you're sick and at your weakest, you have no choice but to surrender. There's no controlling the tide. Your best shot at survival is leaning in and going with the current.
Anytime I would try to force the healing process, my body would quickly remind me to surrender. So I did my best. I managed to stay hydrated and eat little bits here and there. I gave up trying to do and instead just be. My bed became my refuge for rest and Netflix. Remember, LOST? Yeah, I've nearly completed the first season. I wonder if they'll make it off the island?
So often in life, we look at experiences or opportunities and believe them to be just coincidence. While sickness is very common when you're traveling to new places, I (knock on wood) rarely get sick. I've been to many under-developed countries and have never been sick like this.
While my week has not been the most glamorous, I am grateful for dear friends who are looking out for my mental, spiritual and physical well-being; a place of comfort to recover that feels like home; essential oils to help me through the discomfort; Netflix to help pass the time (Did I really just thank Netflix? Perhaps I'm not on the mend...), and I am even grateful for being knocked down because it humbled me and reminded me of my intention for this trip.
I still have a long way to go in the area of surrender and giving up control (maybe I should get that tattooed on me somewhere so I'll remember...). I can't guarantee that I won't jump back in with full force once I am better. Yet, I will forever have this time in my life as a reminder that what I ask for may just come true.