11 September, 2012

Italy: Day 0 - And so the journey begins

And so the journey begins.

I haven’t really given it much thought. I don’t even really know why I am doing it. I don’t have expectations for it. It’s funny. My cousin, “Vinyasa Girl,” was the one who suggested this to me. She had recommended some great yoga studios to me during a recent visit to Boston, and my experiences at those places led me to have implicit trust in her recommendations. The passion and eagerness with which she tried to help me really stood out to me as well. And that’s sort of the yoga spirit, isn’t it? When we feel the positive effect in our lives of these experiences, we are bursting with enthusiasm for sharing with others. And not only does that spirit reveal itself with such obviously connected things. It ends up translating into other areas of our lives. If we live our life from a place of joy and presence, then every encounter with another is an opportunity to share that energy, whether it is a coworker, our partner, or a stranger asking for directions on a crowded street.

Vinyasa Girl said to me, “There’s this retreat in Italy, with my friend Sue Jones, and you should do it.” She said that it was actually a “yoga plus cooking retreat,” where a small group of people (typically 7-12) went with Sue, and stayed in a villa (Locanda del Gallo) in Gubbio, which is about 3 hours north of Rome. There is yoga each morning and evening. Day trips to neighboring villages. Hot tub. Swimming pool. Meals together, including four-course Italian dinners every night.

My initial reaction was “Hm… that’s interesting.” But there was also a chorus of voices in my head that said things like “Well, that’s a neat idea, but I don’t really see how that will happen.” Or, “I don’t want to travel alone.” Or, “Is it really necessary to go to Italy to do a yoga retreat?” There were a slew of reasons why I shouldn’t go that freely came to mind when I looked for them. But, at the same time, there was one voice in my head that kept whispering “Why not?” This was way back in June. I read about the retreat online, and I contacted Sue, and asked her a few questions. I started to feel like “I might do it, but I think I’ll sleep on it for a few days.” But a few days turned into a month, and a month turned into 6 weeks, and it was starting to seem like it had slipped from my memory. But it didn’t completely slip. It was sitting back there, quietly cooking.

Life brought it back to the foreground, and I talked about it with Vinyasa Girl one more time. This time, she said “It was the best experience of my entire life.” And that was it. I again contacted Sue to find out if it was still possible to sign up. That was about a month ago. It was the day after “the deadline” (it’s very much like me to decide I want to do something right after it’s “too late”). But Sue still had space and, just like that, I signed up. I resisted any thinking or analysis. I resisted asking myself any further questions about why, or if, or how.

So here I am, on a plane to Montreal, en route to Italy. Still, there is no anticipation. No expectation. I know what the destination looks like, because I have seen photos. But I don’t know what it feels like. The pilot and the flight attendant on this small Air Canada jet are bilingual. Flight instructions and announcements in French are the first real indicator that I am on a journey.

It turns out, this will be a very small group of us. Only six of us in total, including our teacher, Sue. I do not know any of the four other people who are going (besides Sue, whom I also do not know, other than email exchanges). I know their names from reply-all email threads. I know some of their professions from perusing LinkedIn. And I know what some of them look like, from Google and Facebook information.

I am, after all, a researcher.

The rest shall begin to unfold shortly.

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