One of my absolute favorite things about being in a foreign place is getting lost. Wandering around streets, stopping whenever something catches my eye. Looking up every once in a while, just to notice what’s there. Nothing feels better than hanging out in a public place sipping excellent coffee, people watching and just soaking up the vibe.
Since I’ve settled into Vancouver, my life can mostly be described as trying to fit as many things into a day as possible. It’s my fault that my quality of life has dropped from an 8 to a 5. In a city as laid back as this place, there’s no reason for my cortisol levels to be this insane.
This week my challenge is to treat at least one day like an exploration rather than a mad rush to get from one appointment to another. (more…)
My mother used to irritate the shit out of me whenever we had a party because inevitably she’d haul out the same four stories about the only four interesting things that ever happened to her and tell them over and over. Even though we’d all heard them about nine thousand times.
Sometimes when I was an especially bad daughter, I’d finish the story.
“Ya. Ya. And then the Dalai Lama asked if he could use that line in one of his talks.”
Sadly, three of the four exciting things that happened in her life are completely made up.
This weekend my family hosted a BBQ. Once the drinks start flowing, I get that familiar itch to be the center of attention with one of my witty stories. I’m about four sentences in when my husband fake coughs.
“I think you’ve told that one before.”
“Ya like a million times,” my daughter pipes in.
Some of my friends nod or stare at their drinks.
Not one to so easily give up the spotlight, I launch into another one. When a voice from the crowd says,
That’s not a toast that’s my friends begging me to shut the fuck up
“Isn’t that the one where you meet Tommy Chong at a salsa club?”
And it hits me. Every single notable, exciting thing I’ve done in my life happened 20 years ago. My stories are old and tired. And now so am I. Total humiliation.
So I do what most middle-aged women having an attack of social anxiety do – pretend to be busy in the kitchen.
I recently watched a Netflix special about the Queen of England. In this one scene, Elizabeth realizes that the only two topics she can speak intelligently about are horse breeding and dogs. Bent over the dishwasher, my nose prickles and I frantically blink away tears. I’m just like her. I’m like the Queen, except for my table manners and also I don’t have a yacht.
It’s a scary moment when that realization hits: my life has shrunk. That free-spirited, adventurer who’d take impossible risks has morphed into the cranky, play-it-safe woman I swore I’d never be. What’s next? A pair of mom jeans, a mini-van on the slow, steady descent to death?
Just kill me. Please.
One of my favourite stops. Here I’ve met some of the most interesting people ever.
My new Oracle is an app called Hopper. You just type in a place you’d like to visit and it sends you alerts if the airfare goes down. When a return flight to Amsterdam came up at $599, taxes in – I took that as a sign and booked the flight.
I know travel is also good medicine for me. My family and I have travelled quite a bit since the kids were born. Adventurous travel. Like taking a 1 year-old, who insists on jumping in any body of water, to Venice.
But I haven’t travelled alone since before I met my husband. That’s 10 years ago. That poor guy has had to listen to my 10-year-old travel stories about a million times. I pull at least one out at every dinner party. He never complains, but I know it drives him nuts. That might be the biggest reason he encouraged me to go.
After complaining about all the things in my life that aren’t working, I feel some pressure to move on to the next step (because whiners are the most annoying people on the planet, as anyone who has or knows kids, is painfully aware).
The next step is: manifesting a way out.
So now I’m just riddled with anxiety because I’ve never managed to get this process exactly right and this time around, I’ve got too much to lose if I fuck it all up.
I’m like that guy who meets a genie and gets three wishes, which should be awesome, but ends up being a complete disaster because the genie always finds a loophole and it all turns to shit. That’s what the Manifesting Game has always felt like for me.
“Why do you have to do anything?” my husband asks while I’m pacing and fretting in the kitchen.
I just stare back at him, like he’s the idiot for a change.
“Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Duh.”
Everyone knows you’re not supposed to just sit around waiting for life to get better. Happy, successful people are out there making shit happen. Just read The Secret or sign up for any self-help class and they’ll all convince you that sitting around waiting is for losers.
I learned all about the Manifesting Game from a guy named Patrick who I met at a “Living An Authentic Life” workshop on Saltspring Island. The first thing Patrick said to me was, “Y’know how it took Jesus wandering 40 days in the desert to find God?”
He obviously expected a response, so I nodded.
“Well, I did it in three,” he said holding up three stubby, dirt encrusted fingers.
Who wouldn’t be impressed.
Over the course of the workshop, I learned that I had the wrong name, the wrong job, the wrong relationship – basically that my entire life was a mistake and that I was in desperate need of a 180. I also learned that Patrick had been receiving telepathic messages from Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill, insisting that he join her in Toronto.
“We are twin spirits,” Patrick explained after a “soul gazing” exercise where people are paired off and told to sit cross-legged and stare into each other’s eyes until all “ego barriers” and feelings of discomfort melt away. “No matter where we are in the world, our spirits reach out to find each other. Alanis’s music just pointed me in her direction and told me it was time.”
Patrick shot me a look, which I interpreted as pity. “To join her in Toronto and make a baby.”
So when Patrick suggested I hitchhike with him to Toronto, it seemed like a super good idea.
The first day on the road, just past Hope (BC), Patrick rolled a joint. Which I happily shared. He then pulled out his didgeridoo and instructed me to sit on the ground, focussing on my breath and the pulsing vibrations of the music, which he played a few inches from my head. After a few moments, the sounds from the highway did seem to dissolve and my head swam with colour and shapes. A while later, after the buzzing in my body slowed, slowed and stopped, Patrick stopped playing and I opened my eyes.
“Now,” said Patrick. “Set your intention.”
When I didn’t respond, he spoke, looking skywards. “We want a red van to stop and for the driver to be a French Chef”
He glanced over at me. “What? I’m hungry.”
He then stood up and stuck out his thumb. I joined him.
About 30 minutes later, a blue van pulled up to the shoulder. As we ran over, I noticed that the bumpers were a reddish colour, as were the rust spots on the doors. Patrick shot me a knowing look. Once we settled inside, we began with the small talk:
Where are you heading?
How about you?
Oh just to Merritt for a music festival.
What do you do?
I play mandolin in a klezmer band. But I was trained as a French Chef.
Because we never specified, while setting our intention, that the driver offer to feed us, he simply let us off by the side of the road.
Another time, when we were feeling cold and hungry, we smoked a joint, played the didgeridoo and asked to find a big fat wallet. We took no more than ten steps, when I saw one lying in the dirt. But because we didn’t specifically ask for there to be money in the wallet, all we found was a Subway punch card.
Patrick claimed in all of his years of doing his WalkAbouts, he’d never had one that was so lame. Our rides were ok, but there were no magical synchronicities or mind-blowing revelations that were typical for him. When we finally got to Toronto, two weeks later, Patrick discovered Alainis Morissette was touring through Europe, and completely lost it.
The reason, he told me, was that I was not clear. My mind was so muddy that none of my intentions were “readable”. In fact, my mind was so extremely muddy that it infected his mind, skewing the results. We decided it was best to part ways.
Over the next two months, I continued to hitchhike alone to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. As the weeks went by, I began to realise that Patrick was full of shit. I was perfectly capable of creating cool, magical things in my life, but the seed of doubt he planted remains to this day.
Today, the building blocks of my life, my job, marriage, inner world – are all in disarray. Fear sends me into a panic that all I seem to create is more chaos. Because that’s all I feel. Moreover, I know that if I’m not specific and clear, I’ll get what I ask for, but not necessarily what I want.
As I vaguely recall, sitting and waiting was actually part of the “manifesting” process during that trip. But so was pot and a didgeridoo. I’m on the hunt for a version of those things that I can use without looking completely insane. But until I get clear about what that looks like, I’ll continue playing at waiting…
Have you ever dreamed of impregnating a rock star? Please let me know.