On being kicked out of the nest:

We have been granted a special two-year leave of absence from British Columbia while still retaining our BC medical coverage. It begins September twelfth when we leave on our next trip. We had been told that we could return to BC for less than thirty days at any one time as often as we wanted. Apparently not. A week or so ago we were told that actually the law states that we can only return to BC for thirty days total in the entire two years.

Our first reaction was a mixture of excitement, and a great feeling of enlivenment, and of course a little fear, all rolled into one. It was shocking! We were doing a little jumping up and down and squealing. It’s not really about medical coverage, it’s not really about health insurance. What it feels like is another tie being cut, another connection to Vancouver as our home and safe harbor being stripped away, and we are being cast out into the world with no anchor, and no safe familiar place to come home to whenever we feel like it. We are really nomads now, floating through the world feeling our way by the tips of our fingers. Free falling. We can drop in for a few days and then we have to leave again. And we have to trust the movement like never before, with little time for forward planning. More than ever we will plan on the road, as we go.

We can of course, come home if we want to, but given the rigmaroles and enormous expense of travel medical insurance now Don is nearly seventy we might not be able to go again, since our special two-year leave of absence would then be cancelled, and we would need to stay in BC to retain health coverage here. What we want of course is complete freedom and the safety net of complete medical coverage without having to pay thousands for it. Well we have that, only it doesn’t include the freedom to come back to BC whenever we want for any extended length of time. Only thirty days in the next two years.

Until learning of this we really had no idea how much we regard Vancouver as a safe harbor, a refuge, a place to come home to whenever we need to stop, to rest, to take a break. We feel as if we’re being kicked out of the nest. It’s incredibly exciting. And enlivening.

We have no idea what we’ll do when the two years is up. We would have to stay in BC for five months of every year for a further three years before we could apply for it again. It is way too far ahead to think about. Anything can happen in two years. Life keeps moving, and changing, and we move and change with it, and whenever we find ourselves thinking too far into the future we stop, and come back to presence. And letting go. And trusting.

On the price of unconscious “shoulding”:

 My right hip has been hurting for a while now. Recently in conversation with a neighbor I talked about Louise Hay’s* suggestion that hip issues are about moving forward, and that I needed to look into what the underlying feelings were, that I was not in touch with, and that were causing my hip to be so painful. Funnily enough the pain went away after that, but later came back again. Then I got really present and the thought arose “there’s nothing wrong” and there were a few tears of relief in realizing this. And in also realizing that I’ve been carrying a low-grade anxiety for a few weeks now, in the background, not even conscious really, about getting things done that we need to get done to move forward with the next phase of our journey – booking hotels in India, getting visas, connecting with all the people we want to see before we leave town, waiting for replies to emails so things can move forward on whatever issue the email was about, hoping the people that we want to see want to see us, trying to make things happen, an unending underlying low-grade tension that I should try more to make things happen, that I should be doing things, getting things done, phoning people, making dates, taking care of business – and instead not doing a lot of these things but doing what I feel like doing, what spontaneously arises in each moment, following the inner urge – all the while with this unacknowledged background tension to do with getting things done that need to be done so we can move forward, instead of trusting the Mystery, trusting that what needs to be done will spontaneously arise and get done in it’s own right time.

“God is in the details”, so let God take care of them. Just be. Just allow each moment as it arises without thinking it should be different. Everything has it’s own right timing and all will unfold in Good Orderly Direction. Relax and enjoy doing what inspires you in each moment. Don’t think it has to be different, or, even worse, try to make it different. No pushing the river. Or worse still, do in each moment what you’re inspired to do with an unconscious tension in the background that you should be doing something different. No wonder my hip hurts! It’s all okay I tell myself. But I’m not sure I believe it. So I have three choices – do all the things on the list that need to be done, or do what pleases me while thinking I need to be doing something different with the subsequent tension and pain that brings, or do what pleases me with presence and full-heartedness and trust. Trust in the Mystery that I will spontaneously find myself doing the things that need to be done when they need to be done.

What I’m inspired to do lately is mainly work on photographs from the folk festival for the blog. And visiting with friends. And going for walks. And long talks with Don about the nature of friendship.

It’s all about trusting presence. And letting go. Just be. All will unfold in it’s own perfect way.

*Louise Hay You can heal your life

On the Vancouver International Folk Festival:

 Every year in July the Vancouver International Folk Festival is held in beautiful Jericho Park by the sea. It’s three days of fun and partying and delicious food, and of course an endless smorgasbord of fabulous live music. There are seven separate stages, or performance areas, going all day, with anywhere from one to three performers or bands jamming on each stage, and three stages each evening. We’ve been to all three days of the festival several times in past years, but this year opted to go just for the Saturday.  What a great day. Hands down best performance of the day? Mike Farris and the Cumberland Saints! What an energy that guy is. He left nothing, and I mean nothing, on the table. Apart from Mike Farris – no picture could ever remotely capture his music and performance – I think the photos best tell the story:

The Setting:

Looking from the main stage out at the sea of “homesteads” – space people have claimed for watching the big concert on the main stage at night

Looking towards the main stage

The Musicians:

The audience:

So to all you non-Vancouverites – come to Vancouver, come visit. There’s a reason we call it Lotus Land, and the folk festival is one of them.

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.