Belfast Telegraph

How I travelled to other side of the world and found the new me

By Nuala McCann

All my life it's seemed that things weren't really real until I'd told someone. I reckon if I were ever stranded on a desert island, it wouldn't actually happen until I got off and recounted the tale to another person.

And so it goes here. Greetings from Down Under. I'm in Oz after some time in New Orleans and San Francisco. It's a journey of letting go and letting be. And with every new person I meet who asks: "So are you here on vacation?" I get to say out loud this new reality. "I'm here to stay with the family of my partner, who died last year, suddenly."

Bit by bit, I'm even beginning to believe it myself.

They say that 'everywhere you go, there you are', which is true, of course. An exotic beach does not make one exotic. If it did, I'd be Carmen Miranda by now, having been privileged to stand in some truly beautiful locations so far.

But there's something else going on too. Yes, you travel and it's just you, but subtly, you absorb a trace of every place and leave a trace of yourself there. And this odyssey that seemed crazy when booked, is revealing itself, in the still dawn of a humid Australian morning or in the quiet courtyard of a Zen meditation centre in San Francisco, or even in the hedonistic clamour of a St Patrick's Day parade in New Orleans, to be a gradual setting down of what was, and a gentle picking up of what is now.

And I see now it had to be on this huge scale because only a scale of this size could do any justice to Mike's huge spirit. He was never contained by one country, one job or one body.

As I stretched out flat across three empty seats on one of the flights I've taken so far, trying not to listen to the voices screaming in my head, 'You're lying in a metal tube hurtling through space with nothing but empty space underneath you!', I 'got' what it means to trust. When all control is out of your hands, whaddareyagonna do? You either pass out with fear or surrender with open everything. I chose surrender. Or maybe it chose me. Either way, I experienced what I believe all of us simultaneously desire at a very fundamental level and yet resist, because we are afraid to believe in it. I experienced that all is well.

I am slowly surrendering to the freedom that comes with loss. Loss of M, loss of the illusion of control, loss of certainty, loss of identity as it has been created over all these years.

We are all hurtling through space with nothing underneath but emptiness. Our very existence defies logical explanation. It could melt your head if you tried to work it out.

There are no answers to those questions.

The joy is that when you experience yourself as your real – in this very moment, just as it is – self, the questions don't get answered. They disappear.

And suddenly all the effort and energy normally spent trying to work it all out, is available to let it all in. And it's an overwhelm of colour and smells and birdsong and detail and beauty.

If you ever doubt that there is enough for you in the world, take it from me, there is. The whole world is in a small knot in a plank, if you see it clearly. And there's nowhere to get to, when you know that where you are is enough.

Belfast Telegraph

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