As part of my pretence of being a creative person, I thought it was fitting that I passed through a Blue Period – rather literally blue, as it turned out.

Once, a long time ago when I was studying in Wales, I travelled on as many weekends I could. These were short trips, usually to a castle town because I was mad about castles then. Basically I picked up the bus schedule, and just went from there.

There were no plans; just getting there and wandering. These were different from the trips I had taken before with my family. I was solo. Exploring and lost in my own ruminations. Ate on the road, or upon random grassy coastal slopes awaiting the sunset. Come to think of it, I was a ‘solo female traveller’ before it was de rigeur

Even though it was a time when I struggled with many things, when I was wandering, I felt complete. I felt free. But it was all too brief. I finished my studies, and returned. 

The illusion of normalcy

But when I started working, I reverted back to old travel norms. Only, there was work travel now as well.

It was a period in my life when I shuttled between places more, but explored them less. Touring, but not engaging. It was a period when I tried to be normal, so that I could have the life that everyone was having. The life that everyone was supposed to have. The full time job, respectable. Find someone, get married. Have the wedding, start a family. Build a house. Happy ever after. 

Hard as it was for someone who wasn’t quite normal, this dream of normal was eventually – miraculously – right in my grasp. It looked like happiness. I closed my fingers upon it, hard. 

But my hands closed upon it as on a burning coal. The effort to hang on made me crouch smaller and smaller, and still the embers did not die.

Finally I let go.

It was a time of darkness and loss. I felt overwhelmed by the sense that I had lost too much time, and was damaged beyond revival. Pain surrounded me on all sides – though you cannot see by looking at me.

It is in this drowning that I learned to accept that the conventional life was not chosen for me. I surrendered myself to be reborn. 

Into the cocoon

And so my Blue Period began in pitch black darkness.

The path out of the dark drowning felt like a rehearsal for dying and crossing over to another life. The me who I was could not cope with what I faced, as dead ends loomed on every side. And so I asked to be changed into the me who could, even though my logical mind could not compute what exactly it was that I asked, nor how it would possibly make any sense.

Yet that is what happened. A metamorphosis.

Funnily enough, to be restored as Me 2.0, requires that I completely let go of Me 1.0, trusting that at the end I would still feel like me, recognise myself, and that all will be ok. It takes trust to leap off that cliff, trusting in the Guide, confident of sudden flight – or at least, levitation. 

There are some who could leap on the strength of that trust and love for the Guide alone. I’m honest enough to admit that I am not sure if my logical mind could have released its self-reliance to do so if it weren’t a choice between that, or misery and bitterness for the remainder of my life. I had to be pushed to the edge.

Nonetheless I did trust. Through my terror of self-loss, I trusted. I trusted, in defiance of all the instincts of disappointment and disillusion. I trusted the Guide, when all else proved themselves unworthy of trust.

In that respect, looking back I suppose I needed the calamity. The tragedy was perhaps the best thing to happen to me. It forced me to my true spirit – I learned that I would rather smash my ego to pieces, release my logic, and take a leap of faith.

I did not lose my logic by choosing faith; it was restored to me. But it returned with something better that breathed a living light to it, animating with warmth the marble golem that housed it before. 

Out of the cocoon

The leap was the hardest part, hands down. If a caterpillar had to decide to enter its cocoon, trusting that it will be fine in there, and that afterwards it would emerge a butterfly, I wonder if we would have butterflies at all. After all, it seems scary and lonely in there, and that’s not even including thinking about being liquified and remade. For all you knew, maybe being a butterfly isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

It’s only after having passed through metamorphosis that you understand how vast the difference is between the two stages.

Paradoxically, you also then understand how – despite such a clear difference – you have somehow not changed into a ‘different person’. Rather, it feels like you have changed into much more of you. Like you changed ‘into’ yourself. Just distilled, compressed.

Kind of how you make a sun by fusing the pre-sun into itself.

Still, the bad news is that metamorphosis isn’t the end of the struggle. Breaking out of the cocoon isn’t it either.

A baby remains fragile for a while as it works out how to be. A butterfly can’t fly straight away, while its wings are yet wet.

But life hurries you and hurries you, and I know I’ve wasted time.

Let the Blue Period begin. 

The downside to my analytical sight being returned to me upon crossing the rebirth threshold, is that I will think. But a butterfly does not think about being a butterfly. It just knows to do butterfly things.

There is an obvious problem with not having the conventional life: no one knows how to give you directions.

You can ask a hundred, a thousand caterpillars and not a single one can advise a butterfly what its food is, never mind how to fly. It’s not much good being reborn if you don’t know how to live anew.

It was at this period in my life that I realised that:

  1. The best thing that needed to happen to change my life, did.
  2. Not a single person I knew has any flipping idea what kind of life this would – or could – be.
  3. If I don’t work it out soon, the reborn me would starve and die.
  4. You can’t un-metamorphose.

I looked out to an empty blue horizon. Once again, I had no choice.

Let the Blue Period begin.

It’s a good thing blue is my favourite colour.

Odyssey of Teja: Inner exploration and re-invention | Teja on the Horizon travel blog

7 Responses

  1. Danique says:

    I love to read this piece! Especially the sentence ‘you have not changed into a “different person”… like you changed “into” yourself. I can definitely find myself in that sentence. I got lost a bit since I travel and I do not always know which direction I have to go, but I feel more myself than ever and I wouldn’t change a thing – I can’t change it anymore anyway.

  2. Travelwithtarah says:

    Thank you for sharing this!! Your words are so inspiring!

  3. Alaska Rue says:

    I love the ending! That leap of faith that you take into your second life, the unconventional life of someone bound to travel (though getting more and more conventional, now, or maybe I’m too stuck in a bubble with other travelers/bloggers), cannot be reversed. That’s so true. I can’t go back to who I was before either, before I discovered travel. I especially adore your bullet point list. Nice introspection!

    • Teja says:

      Maybe it’s getting conventional enough that it is possible to congregate among travellers and forget the majority of the world is still grounded. I hosted a Hungarian blogger at my place recently and her way of life is still considered highly controversial in her country – even resented sometimes. Not that grounded is bad – that stability creates a community that grounds and shelters millions of people quite efficiently, right?

  4. “It’s a good thing blue is my favourite colour” < I love that!! Thank you for sharing this <3

    I used to study in Wales too, absolutely loved it! I lived in Pembrokeshire :)

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