I live my life from instinct. I started this as soon as I became an ‘adult’ at age eighteen. I went to college at nineteen, dropped out at twenty. Burned all my bridges at twenty-one.
It was while on a train from Stockholm to Paris, sleep deprived, trust undefended, that I let go of my fears that the universe would not hold me in its arms. I was in one of those European train compartments with three seats on each side. The train travelled overnight, but I didn’t have a sleeper–I was nineteen and on a tiny budget. There was one other person in my cabin, an American also. A man in his late twenties, perhaps. He said he had been the campaign manager for a candidate who had lost, and he needed a break. I wasn’t political, so I didn’t care to ask further.
But he slept on one side of the cabin and I slept on the other, and when we woke, we were somewhere in Germany, fog rising over the Rhine in the very early gray of morning. I rooted through my backpack, suddenly self-conscious around this man I had sort of spent the night with. I found two old pieces of bread and a can of those tiny cocktail weenies. I hesitated. It was all the food I had and it was hours before Paris was due. But I offered him half anyway, thinking he wouldn’t take it. He did. Then he pulled out two beers and offered me one. I took it. We drank warm beer and ate stale bread with cocktail weenies and swapped stories and became two travellers grateful for the kindness of each other. I knew then I had nothing to fear from life.
My careers and experiences, when I look back on them, have been tailor made for me to grow into the person I am today. I trust my life; I have a saying that I say when it looks like things are getting bad: “Everything that happens to me is for my highest good.” I believe that utterly.
My deep depression in my forties gave me the gift of becoming a massage therapist and developing my closed heart. My alcoholic first marriage gave me the gift of the courage of self-reliance, my moving away from family and friends gave me the gift of my voice, to write (with the support of my amazing second husband).
I can look at it as: alcoholic marriage, depression, loneliness, or I can see the real meaning: the courage developed, the compassion opened, and the voice discovered.