Some of you who have been reading Ali’s blog about our European travels may have wondered how and why we came to be doing all this travelling. So here’s how it all began.
By way of background I trained as a neuropsychologist at McGill University in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and then went on to teach neuropsychology at the University of Victoria for six years. From 1991 until 2011 I had a successful private practice in Vancouver assessing the consequences of traumatic head and brain injuries. I pick up the story from late May 2011:
May 26, 2011: It’s time – everything in my little universe has conspired to push me into letting go of everything – work, home, life-style (such as it is) and moving on to whatever The Mystery wants of me. My enthusiasm for my work has almost gone, my bookings have diminished to zero as of the end of June, my health has deteriorated to the point where I went to VGH Emergency Department yesterday to get checked out for my potential to be at risk for a heart attack, and I’m going for an MRI of my brain Friday morning because of attention and memory problems. I get it – stop working, stop working, stop working and let the Creative Force of The Universe carry me wherever it wants me to go.
I clearly can’t go on as I have been – a few more months, even a couple more years, is not going to make any difference to my financial circumstances. Pray for clarity, pray for guidance, and remember that I am held in The Great Hands of Mystery. Here’s the opportunity to jump in and put my heart where my mouth has been – living the dream of travelling, just being, trusting The Mystery to provide whatever is needed in the moment, moment by moment. It can no longer be something that I consign to the realm of magical thinking or wish fulfillment – I need to keep feeling into and trusting The Mystery to support me. If I try to keep on doing what I’ve been doing I’m going to die or become incapacitated in some way – The Mystery has been pushing me to stop and I’ve finally listened and said YES! Yes to selling the apartment. Yes to travelling to Italy, India, Bali, wherever. Yes to trusting God – Good Orderly Direction, as Julia Cameron in The Artists’ Way puts it. Whenever the mind comes in with its reasons why not I will remind myself that I am always held in the Great Arms of The Mystery, and that to resist the flow of The Universe is to invite suffering in one form or another. Fear is the great stopper of flow. Joy, enthusiasm and willingness put me into the flow. Acceptance of things as they are keeps me in that flow.
I want to ask my spiritual teacher about ways to remind myself about The Truth of Life: that it’s all a moving picture show put on for my edification and entertainment. I’m the writer, director, editor, star, co-star, bit player, extra in the story of my life, and God is the creative genius who first suggested the theme for the show. I’m also cameraman, sound engineer, and stunt coordinator, stuntman, set dresser, costumer and make-up artist. I am voice coach, food truck driver, roustabout and every other participant in the creation of the show, and if I’m not happy with the way it’s turning out I have no one else to blame. Trust the Magic, trust the Mystery, keep moving, keep breathing, stay strong in the knowledge and belief that I am being guided every step of the way. I‘ve been a cynic all my life, unwilling to trust Good Orderly Direction and my life has reflected that. Yet despite my cynicism I’ve somehow managed to survive this far. Now it’s time for a radical shift and a great deepening of trust in Good Orderly Direction.
The next few months can be joyful or terrifying – it’s up to me how I choose to experience things. When I trust the flow all is well, when the mind steps in I forget and fear arises. Therefore I need to be continuously actively reminding myself to trust The Mystery, trust the Magic and let go of trying to control the outcome of whatever The Great Mystery has in store for me for the balance of my days here. I may be anywhere from 70 to 99 percent of my way through this incarnation. I may have great things to achieve in the world or just peace and joy and contentment in my being. I have no idea. All I can do is to keep listening, keep trusting, keep moving, keep writing, and stay focused on the desired outcome, which at this point in time appears to be to divest myself of the majority of my possessions – apartment, car, household goods – close my business practice, and travel. It feels like exactly the right thing to be doing even though fear keeps trying to insinuate itself. Arrange for a realtor to come and look at the apartment. Keep feeling, keep trusting, keep moving. There’s an energy in me now that has been dormant for years and I know that it will get stronger as I move forward into actualizing the goals that have been set for me by The Mystery. Travel (yeah), joy (yeah), enthusiasm (yeah), aliveness (yeah), and new energy for life (yeah). It’s all good: trust The Mystery, trust the Magic, keep moving forward with purpose. More life, more love, more trust, more . . .
And so that is what we do, moving forward, step by step on this great adventure. We are completely amazed and constantly blessed by the beauty of the world. To share the beauty here’s another small selection of my photographs – pottery, masks, and my strange fascination with laundry.
Gorgeous Italian Pottery
Beautiful Venetian Carnivale Masks
The Art of Laundry
This very last photograph is of a piece that was in an art exhibition in a cinema in Milan. I actually took four photos of it because it had lights swirling over it so it continually changed colour.
Next post: Positano and the Amalfi coast.
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.