Tag Archives: freedom

Constellations

 

The more that I explore this vast and mighty planet, the deeper I find myself rooted in the common ground of humanity. Each journey down a new path fuels my fourth chakra by time spent with those along the way.

 

I believe in acceptance. I believe that the things that divide us are issues based in fear and ignorance. As a child I was exposed to diversity with a side of apple pie. Romanticizing the unknown was what freed me from the gravity of suburbia. Compared to most parts of the U.S., New Jersey and New York have always offered a metropolitan mix of cultures, but many people never seized the opportunity to learn about their neighbors. We were all the parts of a well-oiled machine, disassembled and placed side-by-side on the table. Normalcy and comfort glazed over our blissful lack of awareness. Still, this fascination called to me, thirsting for exploration, knowledge, and connection.

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Currently, I’m working onboard a cruise ship, sailing the seas for a second six month period of time. I first embarked early March 2016 as an American and left that fall a Global Citizen. Through those first six and a half months my family grew in size and diversity and offered me deeper connections to a world outside my own. There are roughly 1500 employees on this vessel and with only 58 of us being American, it was the first time I had ever truly been a minority. Suddenly I was living with people from almost every continent, social, economic, and religious background making our bubble like a floating UN. I have never seen a place where everything just worked.

 

Down time onboard is often spent communally in designated crew areas. Crew members shoot the breeze with others, rapidly evolving relationships from strangers to friends/lovers/family. These seemingly small experiences blessed me with a refreshed love for humanity all over again.

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During my time here I have strengthened my ability to listen, which I believe is one of the most important qualities to possess. Fundamentally, we all want to be heard. When you give your undivided attention to another person you are not only fulfilling their social and emotional needs,  you’re also gaining a broader perspective without even trying. By being a silent listener. I have strengthened my inner empath, stepping outside of myself and into the experience of the sharing soul. This ability is a completely golden opportunity in itself. Carrying that out into the world continues to help me meet people where they are, in the timeline of their own life experience. These magical abilities don’t even stop with the human race. Strong listeners and empaths are able to extend their influence out to all other aspects of the conscious world.

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When you are not exposed to the world outside your front door, it isn’t always easy to figure out who you are. Through this experience and my travels since, I have become more deeply connected to my core identity. There is a certain confidence and fearlessness acquired by diversifying your circle. By challenging the limits of my comfort zone I have been able to really cultivate these qualities, trusting in my own ability to understand what I need to thrive, based on who I am. I was stifled by my safety net for so long that I seemingly changed completely to those who knew me before. In reality, all I had done was uncover layers of disguise and years of expectation from my true self. Shedding the extra skin was just as liberating as it was to travel across the world and back.

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So here I am on my fourth month of contract number two, an evolving human who can confidently say that I am constantly falling in love with the human race. I continue to bond with as many people as possible, both onboard and on land, to expand my heart’s pallet. We bond over passions and art forms and we push past the small talk early on. We embrace similarities, respect differences, and let the armor fall to the ground. When I return home again I try to bring these moments with me allowing them to free me time and again from the gravity that once felt crushing. We all keep searching for our little piece of freedom but what we can easily forget is that freedom grows from an accepting heart. Open your arms to the world and the world opens its arms to you. We are points in the universe connected by invisible thread, a mighty collection of stellar lines creating the most beautiful constellations.

Written by Allie Pizzo

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Travel and Home

That first morning, light burst through at a time my body told me it should fade. Thoughts scattered across my eyes, as inconsistent as the light that touched them.

 

We lay intertwined and marvelled at the concept of flying. Home felt close, connected by only a days travel. Familiarity lingered between us as we repeated the comforting words our families had left us with, comfortable vowels and nouns are reshaped and reused. Wrapped in the sheets of our new home.

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Yet at the end of our embrace, the connection drifted. Familiar smells were replaced and goodbye hugs washed away. Soon we were wrapped up, completing the backdrop of our new surroundings. Familiar items we had brought with us became part of the now and the new. A bracelet my Mum had given me before we left clung duly to its previous context. My carry on, so carefully organised for the flight now contained a mixture of biscuit crumbs and books.

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It was scary and yet exciting to step forward into our present. To accept the distance between us and everything we knew. To not cling so violently to the memories of home. To not hope so avidly to see those we missed the most.

We embraced the drift.

Home became the foreign land. It held the tang of excitement, just as New Zealand had before we arrived. Nostalgia twisted memories into perfection. Travel no longer felt like travel. The easy rhythm of our new country felt like home. Being far, was what we had become accustomed to and although at times it stung, overtime the ache dulled. Still, when my guard dropped, sharp memories hit hard like a wave, stopping me, recalling me to home. I learnt to let them slip and glide away. Not cling to them and demand they stay, like the mad king and the sea.

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As time drifted past, friendships blossomed and opportunities arose. I took up offers to explore and to settle. Festivals and future plans in our new home. But as plans stretched on ahead of me, their distance took me by surprise.
“Will you be here next year?” New friends chirped and I choked. I’d reply with a quiet “no” and a vague promise that I might return someday. Just as I settled it was time to start leaving again. I hadn’t planned to enjoy myself this much, to love people this much. We’d planned to arrive, explore and flow on. Collecting experiences, not pain.

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This is where the great contradiction in travel arises. To explore is to stretch yourself thin, building connections and memories everywhere you go. There is always somewhere not here that beckons. There is always the pang of what lies behind and the enthralling excitement of what is to come.

To lurch forward and to reach back. Endlessly longing, in one direction or another.

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Written by Charlotte Greenstock, edited by Bethany Naylor

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The Sun rises in the East

Evenings spent by a lake by Port Leucate, South East France

You wake up at first light, back aching from weeks of sleeping a centimetre off the hard and rocky ground. Your feet are bruised and bloody from hundreds of kilometres crossed in shoes you’ve had no time to break in. There have been times when you felt like giving up. But when you take your first step out into the cool, sharp dawn, none of it matters. The sun is in the long, slow process of breaking over the horizon, and the only sounds are the gentle rise and fall of the waves lapping at the shoreline ten feet away from where you stand in your boyfriend’s old shirt and the bikini you haven’t taken off for a week. There are no time limits, there are no goals. There is just one simple plan – live. You are free.

 

Define freedom in one photo or less
Define freedom in one photo or less

 

The two months I spent hitch-hiking over 1000km between Barcelona and La Rochelle, was the most rewarding, exciting, and challenging experience of my life, one which changed my entire perspective and even my personality more than anything else I have ever experienced. Waking up to sunrise on the beaches of the east coast, and watching the sunset from the beaches of the west give you a profound respect for nature. Walking through the lower peaks of the Pyrenees, almost hallucinating from lack of food, water, and sleep, give you great fear. At this point, I had to ignore everything I’d ever been told, climbing into the back seat of the first truck to go past. I was driven away to safety, and that I will never forget.

I was given food by strangers, driven for hours by families who had no reason to trust me, and given worldly advice by people generations ahead of me. I was even given forty euros, breakfast and a tour of Toulouse by a 70-year-old German man, who the previous day had driven me to a canal to camp. Before this dramatic yet stabilising period of my life, I was questioning my faith in human kindness. Some of my experiences on the road had left me drained, exhausted of all feelings of empathy. The generosity and understanding that I experienced in those weeks on the road proved to me that I have much left to discover about human nature.

 

A canal near Villefranche, half-way between Carcassone and Toulouse
A canal near Villefranche, half-way between Carcassone and Toulouse

 

At this point in my life, there is nothing I long for more than the freedom and hope that comes from exploring this planet, not as an enemy  but as a friend of beauty. In this day and age, so many see nature as simple statistics – a percentage of rainforest destroyed or a disappearing coastline – and they cannot fathom this loss. To sit by a silent lake, kept warm by the fire you made yourself from the kindling you found in a nearby forest, listening to crickets and the birds singing their evening chorus, is an experience without which humans would never have developed to what we are today. Settled atop an old wall of an abandoned monastery, at the peak of what had seemed like an insurmountable climb only that morning, staring across at the patchwork of forests and farmland, the town you left only days before  invisible in the evening haze. Only there, when you have abandoned all that made you who you were, when you have ignored and dismissed all of society’s rules and regulations, can you appreciate the truth. We are a part of nature, we are simple animals, living in a world that we share with many others, a world full of beauty and experiences, if only you go out and seek them.

Written and edited by Beth Naylor

Originally posted on the Wayfaring Student

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