Please note: this one will be full of Disney quotes, specifically Moana.
As mentioned in my last post, my trip was a challenge. It was also an experience that I would absolutely do again, in a heartbeat. I was challenged, I was cold, I was wet, I injured myself, I cried. I added to all the scarring on my legs, particularly my knees.
But scars can heal and reveal just where you are.
I have obtained my scars in a lot of different places. Home (wherever that is), my own country, Europe. And let’s be honest, not all of those scars are physical. But if it’s going to happen, no matter what, I want them all. They have all come from experiences. They have been during times with friends, family, strangers or alone. The ones during the races in Scotland, I was alone. And at the same time, I was with the people I could relate to. Runners. I had a community. They asked if I was okay. They slowed their times, they paused, to ask. There are very many times where I have felt alone, and that showed me that I’m not.
I travelled predominantly alone. I used to do that more frequently, sometimes annually. I believed in myself and what I could do. I could meet people. I could figure out train schedules. The world wasn’t a place to be apprehensive about, it was a place to be experienced and enjoyed and learned. The entire world called to me.
But the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me.
I remembered how much I loved it. I loved my independence. I unintentionally went to the cafe where the Harry Potter books were written. I went to the city that the Outlander books were started (and despite touching the stones, I didn’t go back in time). I met some absolutely amazing people who showed me a different lifestyle. I learned that socialization can actually be more valuable than work. That it’s not about building a resume at all times. That the relationships we build with other human beings really are more valuable than anything else.
I learned in Halifax that friendships can develop in unlikely places. I learned in Inverness that friendships can last decades and be stronger than they were before, even without regular interactions. I learned in Edinburgh that friendships (without almost anything in common) can begin. I learned from a fellow in Glasgow at a pub who reunited with his previous girlfriend that there can always be hope for love. I learned in Victoria that love can be unconditional.
Physicality: I can push myself. I have the strength to endure. I raced 78.3 kilometres. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot over that length of time. Maybe my time for each race wasn’t impressive. But altogether, I am very proud of myself. I saw both sides of Canada, and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Next time I travel and run, I’ll give myself more time between each run and the travel to the next location.
Epilepsy: The seizures I had didn’t go unnoticed. In Inverness, the proprietor saw that I behaved differently and was concerned. I didn’t have to conceal it. During the race, other runners saw and were willing to amend their race times to stop and help me up. My epilepsy existed, and I survived all of it.
I was afraid to go. I was terrified. It has been 10 years since I’ve travelled alone like that. The trip was booked though, and I had the opportunity to cancel. I didn’t and not out of my usual stubbornness. I needed to know, to myself, that I could do it. I could have stayed, I could have been safe. I would have still had the seizures and I would have regretted not challenging myself.
All the time wondering where I need to be is behind me.
And now I know/remember what I can do, where I want to go, how I want to experience the world. I found my way across the world.
To add here: the reason that I am using soooooooo many quotes, specifically Disney (apart from that I love Disney): In a couple of weeks I will be speaking again at the conference Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland Resort. I am very honoured and very excited. It was a wonderful event last year and I am definitely looking forward to being involved again. I recommend anyone in California (or anywhere for that matter) to attend. I’ve attached the link to their website below!
The things I have learned will guide me. Learning sometimes includes challenges, fear, love, but I can personally guarantee that it’s worth every scar and injury. The scars will heal. They make a map on my body, in my mind and my heart, just like the maps used to explore the world.