“Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use”. ~ Carlos Castaneda
I just returned from a vacation to Belgium – Brussels, to be exact. While I was there, I was also able to take the train over to England and visit my brother. It was extremely cold, yet the entire time, my heart was extremely warm – because in the end, I was doing exactly what I most wanted to be doing.
Back in August, I booked a trip – an African safari. It sounded super cool – yet while I was booking it, something was causing me hesitation. I couldn’t put my finger on it – I wrote it off as fear, and I laugh in the face of fear! Or do I?
Anyway, as the trip got closer, I started thinking that I might not want to go. I began asking myself why. It sounded really cool, it would be super brave of me to go by myself to Africa, and I told everyone I was doing it! So what was the problem?? Was I afraid to go alone? Was it too close to Christmas? I thought these must be the reasons (along with getting shots – I HATE needles) so I decided I’d try and exchange the trip or possibly postpone it, with the hopes that I’d want to go at a later date.
Well, that was not in the cards – the agency I booked with refused to give me any options, saying it was too close to the trip and the policy stated I was entitled to $0 refund at this point. Yes, the policy did say that – no argument there. But having worked in customer service for many years, I had figured they’d be willing to work with me to either postpone or change the trip to something else, being they’d want to keep my business. No dice. They were of no help whatsoever. I had nearly given up, and thought I’d have to just either suck it up and go, or eat the loss and suffer shame over my fear – until something caught my eye. I noticed that my flight connected in Brussels, both ways. I’ve never been to Brussels, but I do love chocolate, and when looking on the map, it was also a short train ride to London, so if my brother was free, I could visit him, too. Thinking upon it further, I realized I could do a chocolate shop walking tour of Brussels, just like the Paris Patisserie Tour I did last summer! I quickly emailed my brother, who called me back immediately (which is rare, for him, ha ha) and he said I should definitely come out. Kismet.
Next thing I know, I’m buying train tickets, booking a hotel, and researching the best chocolate shops in Brussels. I wound up with a mapped out tour of 10 shops, and wouldn’t you know, I was able to hit all 10. The next few posts will be dedicated to the Chocolate Shop Tour of Brussels, so stay tuned!
I was nervous though – there were a lot of “what ifs” on this trip – what if the weather is really bad? What if I can’t figure out how to get up to NY for the flight? What if one of my trains is cancelled (would it cause a giant domino effect of missed transfers)? What if my flight gets delayed or cancelled? What if my brother is waiting for me and I have no way to call him? What if I have to check my bag, and it goes to Africa? And the biggest one of all – what if everyone thinks I’m a wimp for not going on the safari?
Well, as the trip came to be, I decided the best thing to do was to just take each step as it came. I made the flight. My bag made it to Brussels. I made my train (all of them, in fact). The weather was bad at times, but it had no effect on anything, including my inexplicable light heart. I ate a ton of chocolate, and had some really great laughs with my brother, who I miss terribly already.
On the way home, I replayed the trip in my mind, and realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was eating chocolate. I was taking photographs. I was writing. I was spending time with my favorite person in the world. Yeah, it was 20 degrees outside, but I hardly noticed. When you’re following your heart, nothing else really matters.
It wasn’t fear or shots or Christmas that ultimately changed my destiny – it was doing exactly what I wanted to do, regardless of what anyone thought. And THAT is the bravest thing of all.