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Saturday, April 5, 2014

It's All About Timing

Dear Mom,

Is there anything lovelier than a day when you have absolutely nowhere you have to be? I'm enjoying one of those, and it's just glorious! I do have a few things I really need to do...namely cleaning, doing my taxes, and finishing my thank you notes. (Leigh Ann might feel relieved that her share of your estate-related chores are all wrapped up, since she did all the financial stuff. But I can't be sending out sloppy thank you notes when we talked in your eulogy about how well you trained us in that department!)

Anyway, I had a nice long talk with Miss Frances and told her all of this, as I thought she'd be one of the few people who wouldn't mind listening! Now it's your turn...

The bottom line is I'm going here:

But it's the story about how I'm getting there that I want to tell you.

Monday ended up being 24 of the most synchronous hours I've ever lived. I was calling them serendipitous until Frances said she likes to call those moments (life's little coincidences) synchronicities. "Hmm...I thought...what's the difference?"

Using the knowledge of Latin roots you loved to teach us, I realized synchronicity must be related to time... I looked up both words:

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

Synchronicity: the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung. 

Seriously? Jung shows up in the definition? Holy cow, there's another one! More to come on that. But okay, synchronicity is definitely the bucket we want. Moving on... 

Aaaaanyway, you may recall I've been obsessed with the idea of going to Mozambique since 2006, when Leigh Ann and I went to Africa with Lisa, Hilary, Rebecca and Laura. Let's do a quick flash back to that trip, for those who weren't along for the ride back then.

We started in Cape Town...

Visited Table Mountain...
Toured the Cape Peninsula...

Drove ourselves into the wine country on the "wrong side" of the road, with yours truly behind the wheel of this stick-shift VW van...

Toured vineyards, tasted wine, and sampled delicious gourmet South African cuisine...

Made my very first visit to one of the world's top restaurants, Le Quartier Frances in Franschoek, where I experienced my first-ever tasting menu... 

That was the night Hilary complimented my tiny, perfectly packed "magical suitcase" that kept producing cute outfits! 
Next, we did a safari at a private game reserve... 


We went to Zimbabwe to visit Victoria Falls...
 Cruised on the Zambezi River at sunset...

Zimbabwe was not at all what we expected, and I could write a looooong post on why, but I'm so glad we went there for a number of reasons...the silliest of which is that Hilary snapped this hilarious photo of Leigh Ann and me when the other girls got stuck at immigration.
Have books, will travel! Looks like something from the Gadsden County Nursing Home, not a border crossing in Africa. Moving on... 

During the safari portion, we spent hours doing early morning and late afternoon game drives with our ranger, Van, and our tracker, Musa. And while we were cruising to capture moments like these...

 There was also A LOT of drive time. HOURS of it. Poor Van. Trapped in a Jeep with six talkative females.
Musa was lucky. He was watching the road for fresh animal tracks, so he missed a lot of our jabbering.
Van found creative ways to pass the hours between animal sightings. One day, he challenged us to an impala dung-spitting contest, which he of course won by a mile. 

Eventually, though, we wore him down and won him over with our stories. They included Lisa's hilarious and disgusting medical tales ("So they finally diagnosed her. You know what the doctors said she had, Van? Tater twat!"), and our dating sagas, including the patented tales "My Date with a Homeless Man" and "That Time I Almost Called You to Interpret the Secret Spanish Letter I Found from That Liar's Ex-Girlfriend." 

Honestly, I wish I had a picture of Van's face, his chin cradled in his hand, in rapt attention, as Hilary finished one of her longer fireside tales. "That was an amazing story. Indeed. I enjoyed that one very much," he laughed.

When we left, Van wrote down a few wise words for us in my trusty trip notebook. He told us to stop being so picky. Our biological clocks were ticking! 

Well, it's been six years, and I'm clearly not following Van's advice. But I am following the other "helpful hint" he gave me. After learning I spoke Portuguese, he told me about this place, Benguerra Lodge, on the coast of Mozambique. At the time, it was owned by the same people who owned Jackalberry Lodge, which employed Van in South Africa. 

Since 2006, I've occasionally googled it and been absolutely obsessed with visiting Mozambique. And I've tried my best to find someone else who wanted to go with me. No dice. 

Last Monday, as I started to plan my sabbatical, Leigh Ann forwarded me an email from a group Lisa has traveled with, Adventures for Singles. 

At first, I was leery of joining a big trip. But then I saw where they were going: Mozambique and Zululand. There was ONE SPOT LEFT for a female. 

The itinerary sounds pretty amazing. We're not going to Benguerra Lodge -- I'll keep saving that one for my honeymoon! But I did notice the tour company appears to have lifted one of Benguerra's photos off the internet. That shot of the tent on the beach in the Mozambique collage is from the AFS trip materials. I'll consider that a "sign." 

And as Leigh Ann noted -- it's proof that you have to share your dreams if you want them to come true. If I hadn't been so vocal about my itch to go to Mozambique, she never would have passed along the email. 

Within 24 hours, I'd pulled the trigger and signed up for the trip. It's going to be incredible. They've rented an entire resort on the Indian Ocean for us to stay a few days...we'll also do a safari in Zululand and stay in a tree house! 

The group trip is just a week. After all this buildup, that didn't seem like enough time. So, I emailed my friend Carey, who's been working in Maputo. Now...Carey is herself another little "synchronicity story," as she went on the first group trip I led to Rio in 2006, and was inspired to study Portuguese at Wake Forest, hence her work in Africa. 

It never ceases to amaze me that if I hadn't moved to Dothan, Alabama, in 1998 and gone on that very first mission trip, then all of that Rio stuff never would have happened! 

Anyway, I got to be a link in Carey's life chain, and now she's going to be a link in mine, as she's giving me ideas of other spots I can go in Mozambique, and inspiring me with her current work for an NGO in Uganda.   

Life is beautiful, isn't it, Mom? 

The other thing about my sabbatical planning that you would just love is I'm going to try and visit Arthur and Freya in Switzerland. 
I love this photo of you guys laughing and having fun at Blucher's house when Arthur was in town to visit his mother. He wrote the loveliest response to my random email and said they'd love to see me this summer. It was too cool. 

And there's our Jungian connection! I can't wait to learn more about Arthur's studies of Jung. (On that note, I'm seeing a hypnotherapist on Monday. I'd been looking for one, and Rosanne Cash mentioned one in her memoir. Lucky for me, he's taking new clients!)

This may sound really hokey or whackadoodle to some people, but another link in the synchronicity chain was watching the How I Met Your Mother finale on Monday night. I can't spoil it, as Hilary and Jeff are behind on their viewing, as he's been working mad hours. 

BUT -- the bottom line is that show -- which has always felt really relevant to me, as the characters are basically my age -- seemed like another sign from the universe: Hang in there. Enjoy the ride. There's a happy ending in store, and it might not be the one you expected, but when you get there, it will all make sense. So, enjoy the journey. 'Cause you're on a great one.  

The finale reminded me a lot of one of my favorite exchanges from the show:
Timing's a bitch ~robin scherbatsky
I shared all of this with a dear friend and fellow seeker, and she sent the perfect response: 
I'm a firm believer that the universe sends us messages and points us in the right direction; we just have to be open to receiving those clues. 
A recurring theme I've encountered in yoga is that of resistance versus surrender and accepting that the place where you are is exactly where you need to be.  In other [inartful] words, when you're trying so hard to MAKE something happen, but keep running up against such incredible obstacles in pushing the ball forward or getting to the next step or whatever it may be, it might not be that which should be happening or should be seeking.  But when doors open and you feel like you're moving with the current, that's when it's important to acknowledge the ease with which your actions move you forward and see where it takes you.
Those days like you had on Monday when everything falls in place are so very rare but so very special.
It's terribly bittersweet to be so excited about this summer of travel knowing how much you would have loved to be part of it. But my love of new places and sense of adventure comes from you. And while I recognize I've already been incredibly fortunate to take many "trips of a lifetime," I feel like this summer is going to be an amazing one on all sorts of levels. You always said you lived vicariously through me and Leigh Ann, and I still sense that dynamic at work.
And yes -- there will be some destinations that YOU had on YOUR bucket list -- which I know would NOT have included Mozambique! Stay tuned for more of the itinerary, most of which won't entail quite this much of an explanation.
Then again...who am I kidding! It always takes me a while to tell a good story. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?    
Love you and miss you. 

P.S. If other readers are intrigued by this trip, I'll happily put them in touch with my friend Dianne Titlestad, in Charlotte our incredible travel agent and a South African native.

1 comment:

Sandra Gee said...

A great read!