After I returned from my trip to Africa, people wanted to know what the best part of the trip was. The people, the animals, the landscape, the country, and the workshop I attended all enriched my life in so many ways.
But did one thing stand out?
Yes. The best part of the trip for me was that I went. I didn’t take the advice of the whiney chorus of nagging, nay-saying voices in my head intoning “NO-O-O-O. Don’t go. You shouldn’t do this.”
“You don’t have the time,” the clockwatcher crisply noted.
“You don’t have the money,” intoned the voice of lack, convinced it’s the only thing between me and a life spent living under a bridge with my worldly belongings in a shopping cart.
“You didn’t plan this far enough in advance,” clucked the practical one as she studied the lists on her clipboard.
“The long plane ride will wipe you out,” implored the hand-wringer that thinks danger and injury lurk around every corner.
“Everyone will think it’s foolish/be jealous/won’t like you,” pleaded the approval-junkie that desperately wants to get along well with others.
I’d heard them all before, cautioning me not to seize other opportunities in my life. I’ve listened to their advice so many times.
This time, I realized they were just the voices of doubt, trying to protect me when I didn’t need protection. So I thanked them for their efforts–they really had my best interests at heart.
Then, I ignored them.
My stomach still did loops when I gave the airline agent my credit card information and realized that I was committed. It’s to be expected when stretching into new territories, both geographically and metaphorically.
And I had a fantastic trip with absolutely no regrets. I was enchanted. I learned. I shared amazing sights and transformative insights with fabulous people. I had an adventure. It felt light and airy and magical and free. And it still does.
The Buddha taught that you can always know the sea because it always tastes of salt and you can always know enlightenment because it always tastes like freedom.
I can recall so many adventures that I’ve passed up because I chose to believe that chorus of hyper-cautious, sensible voices.
This time I listened to the deeper, wiser voice inside me. “Go,” it whispered. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t pass it up. Go.”
Recognizing and listening to that still, quiet voice of truth is the greatest lesson I learned. And it’s delicious. It tastes like freedom.